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Third Edition Cycling News, Thursday, February 20, 2014

Date published:
February 20, 2014, 0:00 GMT
  • Hosting road Worlds is too expensive, says French Federation president

    2000 Worlds: Romans Vainsteins (Latvia) wins the world title ahead of Zbigniew Spruch (Poland) and Oscar Freire (Spain)
    Article published:
    February 20, 2014, 13:27 GMT
    By:
    Cycling News

    France remains candidate for track and mountain biking

    French Cycling Federation president David Lappartient has confirmed that France is no longer a candidate to host the 2017 world road race championships, stating that it would be financially impossible to do so.

    Two years ago, Lappartient had expressed his wish for France to host world championships in all cycling disciplines before 2018, and Plouay was rumoured to be among the proposed sites for the 2017 road Worlds.

    “We still have the desire but, today, given the cost of organising such an event, it’s impossible financially,” Lappartient told Ouest France. “Unless the cost lowers, the road world championships won’t be in France in 2017.”

    The Worlds were last held in France in 2000, when Romans Vainsteins claimed the rainbow jersey in Plouay, but the costs of the event have escalated significantly in the intervening period.

    That expense was reflected by the past two Worlds in Valkenburg and Florence, where some race starts – and related organisational costs – were shared with other local councils in the wider Limburg and Tuscany regions, respectively.

    Ponferrada hosts this season’s world championships, although the Spanish town risked losing the event when it struggled to provide the initial $5.5 million guarantee requested by the UCI in 2012.

    Lappartient confirmed that France’s candidacy to host world championships in other disciplines remains in place. “Be it on the track or in mountain biking, we want to organise a world championships in the relative short-term,” Lappartient said.

    In particular, it is understood that the FFC wishes to showcase its new velodrome at...

  • Van Garderen relaxed before decisive Oman mountain stages

    Tejay van Garderen (BMC) in action at the Tour of Oman
    Article published:
    February 20, 2014, 14:51 GMT
    By:
    Stephen Farrand

    BMC leader explains why he'll miss Tour of California in 2014

    Tejay van Garderen sat quietly in the BMC team car before the start of stage 3 at the Tour of Oman, satisfied about his season debut so far and relaxed about the upcoming hilly stages that will decide the final winner and show who amongst the Grand Tour contenders has the best early season form.

    Van Garderen is still only 25 but has been given team leadership at BMC for the Tour de France this season, while Cadel Evans has been persuaded to focus on the Giro d'Italia. Sporting manager Allan Peiper is convinced a generation change can get the best out of both riders.

    Van Garderen proved his stage race potential by winning the best young rider's white jersey and finishing fifth in the 2012 Tour de France. He faltered and finished 45th in the 2013 Tour but impressed with overall victories at the Amgen Tour of California and the USA Pro Challenge.

    2014 will be all about the Tour de France, with BMC happy for van Garderen to sacrifice a second win at the Amgen Tour of California so he can be at his very best for the French Grand Tour.

    February in Oman is a long way away from July in France, so van Garderen naturally brushes off any pressure about competing against Grand Tour rivals such as Chris Froome (Team Sky), Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha), Vincenzo Nibali (Astana), Rigoberto Uran (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) and Roman Kreuziger (Tinkoff-Saxo).

    "So far it's been pretty easy. We just kind of roll along on the flat stages," he told Cyclingnews, perfectly summing up the vibe so far this year at the Tour of Oman.

    "It's a good...

  • Contador intends to make the Tour de France tougher for Froome

    Alberto Contador interviewed on stage
    Article published:
    February 20, 2014, 15:59 GMT
    By:
    Alasdair Fotheringham

    Tinkoff-Saxo rider analyses rivals for 2014

    Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) said that he expects Chris Froome to be as strong as in 2014, and so it will be up to the Sky rider’s rivals to ensure that he faces more challenges both before and during the Tour de France.

    “Under normal conditions, there’s no reason why he shouldn’t be as good as last year,” Contador, currently racing in the Volta ao Algarve, told Cyclingnews.

    While Sky manager Sir Dave Brailsford has hinted that Froome may have a more gradual build-up to the Tour de France rather than hitting the ground running and winning races throughout the early part of the season as he did in 2013, Contador doesn’t buy into that idea.

    “Froome was really consistent throughout the season and I imagine he’ll be the same in 2014. Will it be harder for him? That’s going to depend on us rivals. I’ve been working hard and I’m hoping I’ll make it tougher for him this season.”

    Asked about Vincenzo Nibali’s chances in the Tour, Contador says he puts Froome “on a level above” the Astana rider.

    “Year by year, Vincenzo is getting stronger and stronger and we shouldn’t forget Vincenzo has already been on the podium of the Tour [in 2012 – ed.] He’s a sure-fire candidate for victory. But I’d still put Froome one level above.”

    Contador says he is neither pleased nor regretful that Nairo Quintana (Movistar), the runner-up at last year’s Tour, will miss the race this year in order to focus on the Giro d’Italia. Quintana would have been another dangerous rival for the top spot in Paris for the Spaniard, but perhaps would also have helped to weaken Sky’s grip on the race and...

  • Froome ready to be aggressive on the climbs in Oman

    Tour de France champion Chris Froome (Team Sky)
    Article published:
    February 20, 2014, 17:15 GMT
    By:
    Stephen Farrand

    Team Sky to turn up the pressure in the mountains

    Despite Chris Froome (Team Sky) only beginning his 2014 season at the Tour of Oman, he was not afraid to test his legs by joining a late move during the rolling finale of stage 3 and indicated that he and his Team Sky teammates will take on the race in the back-to-back stages for climbers on Friday and Saturday.

    Froome jumped on the wheel of cyclo-cross world champion Zdenek Stybar over the top of the 1.5km Al Jissah climb, showing he has some early season form and a desire to have a go. The move was quickly caught, and Andre Greipel (Lotto Belisol) got back to the front to win the sprint but Froome seemed to enjoy blowing away cobwebs and firing a shot across the bows of his Tour of Oman rivals.

    "I felt a good sensation being able to follow the front guys, and Stybar has just won the world 'cross title. That's extremely intense racing, and so I was surprised I was able to go with him today," Froome told a small group of the journalists at the Tour of Oman during a round-table interview before heading to dinner.

    "The final five kilometres of today's stage was the first time I've really been able to feel the race was difficult. I feel it's just getting started now."

    "It's always strange before the first race because for over two months now, I've just been training, training, training. You don't really have anyone to compare yourself with or understand where you're going to be in race conditions. So that's one thing I like about Oman because we always have big contenders here who I'll be able to test myself against and see where I'm at."

    The mountain showdown

    Froome and his Grand Tour rivals will know about their own and each other's early season form on the four climbs in the final 70km of...

  • Sagan left frustrated after losing Tour of Oman sprint to Greipel

    Peter Sagan (Cannondale)
    Article published:
    February 20, 2014, 18:10 GMT
    By:
    Stephen Farrand

    Cannondale team still looking for the first victory of 2014

    A group of Slovakian cycling fans waved a national flag and cheered for Peter Sagan at the end of the third stage of the Tour of Oman, but he was in no mood for celebration after finishing second behind Andre Greipel (Lotto Belisol) in the sprint that decided the 145k stage to Al Bustan.

    Sagan is still to land his first win of the season and no other rider in the Cannondale team has won a race either. Cameron Wurf was second overall Herald Sun Tour and Viviani was third in a sprint at the Santos Tour down Under. They have tried hard and gone close to victory but so far there has been no cigar for the Italian-based team.

    Sagan has finished second three times in 14 days of racing at the Tour de San Luis, the Dubai Tour and the Tour of Oman. He has also taken a third place but has yet to cross the finish line first and break the duck on his palmares.

    There is no real pressure on his broad young shoulder because the Tour of Oman is a warm weather, early season shake down for most riders. But being the bridesmaid to faster sprinters is perhaps starting to irritate him.

    "Did you not see that I finished second?" he replied bluntly to the journalists who asked him about the day's racing.

    Sagan tried everything he could to win the stage. He knew the roller coaster finale because he won the same stage finish in last year's Tour of Oman. Then he powered across to some late attackers, blew past them and won alone. This year he had the form and power to go after Zdenek Stybar (Omega Pharma-Quick Step), Chris Froome (Team Sky) and Fabian Cancellara (Trek Factory Racing) but a stiff headwind and a lack of co-operation in the final kilometres meant they were caught by the...

  • Tour of California finalizes route, teams for 2014

    Huge crowds lined the climb of Mulholland Highway during the 2010 Amgen Tour of California's final stage.
    Article published:
    February 20, 2014, 19:00 GMT
    By:
    Cycling News

    Bissell, Jelly Belly, Optum and Jamis represent Continental ranks

    AEG, the organisers of the Tour of California, today announced the final details of the 2014 race route, which begins in Sacramento on May 11 and ends in Thousand Oaks, the home of the title sponsor Amgen, on May 18, and the rest of the 16 teams which will comprise the field.

    In addition to previously announced WorldTour teams BMC, Belkin, Cannondale, Giant-Shimano, Garmin Sharp, Trek Factory Racing, Omega Pharma-QuickStep, Orica-GreenEdge and Team Sky, the domestic Pro Continental teams UnitedHealthcare and Team Novo Nordisk as well as the German Team NetApp-Endura will take part.

    The Continental ranks will be composed of the Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies team, Jamis-Hagens Berman p/b Sutter Home, the Jelly Belly team of US Pro champion Fred Rodriguez and the Bissell Development Team.

    NetApp-Endura's Leopold Konig won the queen stage atop Mt. Diablo last year, and is looking forward to revisiting the summit when stage 3 finishes there.

    "The team loves to race in California," Konig said. "We all look forward to the Amgen Tour of California because it has beautiful scenery, it's warm and also incredibly competitive. We performed really well last year, and I'm definitely hoping to repeat the stage win at the top of Mount Diablo. That was an incredible moment last year."

    Race director Kristin Bachochin was pleased to announce the full field of teams. "With more UCI ProTeams in the line-up than ever before and the strongest field of Pro Continental and Continental teams we have ever invited, the field this year is shaping up to be our most competitive ever," Bachochin said. "Our commitment to the fans and the competitors remains focused on fielding an exciting race for...

  • Gillow confident of capturing fourth Oceania Championship

    Shara Gillow (Orica - AIS) shows off her medal after the podium ceremony
    Article published:
    February 20, 2014, 21:40 GMT
    By:
    Aaron S. Lee

    Australian looks to take her fourth consecutive time trial title

    Orica-AIS standout Shara Gillow is looking for redemption. The three-time Australian national time trial champion failed to make it four in a row in Ballarat in January, but come Friday in her native Queensland, the 26-year-old Olympian looks to avenge a rare loss at the Aussie nationals and become a four-time winner of the Oceania Championships after skipping the event in 2013.

    Gillow, a two-time Oceania time trial (2011, 2012) and road race champion (2011), had missed two weeks of training due to a chest infection just days prior to the Aussie Road Nationals and finished 32 seconds behind Felicity Wardlaw of Victoria to take silver and thus end her bid for a four-peat.

    While Gillow will compete in both disciplines at Oceania, she tells Cyclingnews that the time trial is the only thing on her mind at the moment.

    "The TT is very important to me," she said. "It's what I do and what I love, and a win would give me my fourth Oceania title and that would be very special to me. Then I can focus on the road race."

    On the time trial start list, Gillow descends the ramp one minute ahead of Wardlaw who caps the 12-woman elite field on the out-and-back 25km course that Gillow confidently claims is ideally suited for her.

    "I conducted a recon of the course and really like it," she said. "It's fast and undulating on some open country roads. It's been hot, and I expect some wind but my training has been going really well. I am at 100 per cent physically - and mentally - and feel really good about my chances."

    While disheartened with her performance in Ballarat, Gillow wasted little time mourning her loss at nationals, as she played a critical role in supporting Orica teammate Gracie Elvin's successful bid to capture her...

  • Porte confident Sky can fight back at Ruta del Sol

    Richie Porte (Sky) in action during the Ruta del Sol prologue
    Article published:
    February 20, 2014, 21:58 GMT
    By:
    Alasdair Fotheringham

    Australian lies second overall behind Valverde

    Richie Porte (Sky) may have lost a little time on stage one of the Ruta del Sol, but he nonetheless moved up from seventh to second overall after finishing in the group closest to Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) on Thursday’s uphill finish in Jaén.

    Sky worked hard to keep the pace high on the climb up to Jaén castle, and Porte praised his team for eliminating so many rivals en route to the final right-hand turn where Valverde started to accelerate away, gaining four seconds on a group of five riders, including the Australian.

    Now 19 seconds down on Valverde, the Tasmanian believes that he can yet turn the tables on the Spaniard, and Thursday’s climb was certainly far easier than the race’s toughest summit finish on Friday – the ascent to Cabra sanctuary is almost certain to settle the overall classification.

    “Valverde is obviously in great shape, yesterday [Wednesday] he already showed that he was absolutely flying and he’s very motivated for one of his home races,” Porte told Cyclingnews as he waited for other riders to finish.

    “There’s still a few more hard days where we can fight back, tomorrow [Friday] in particular, so we’ll see what happens.”

    As for stage two up from the Meditteranean coast through the Axarquia mountains and then across to the sierras of Jaén, Porte recognised that “it was a tough finish, but the stage looked a lot harder on paper than it actually turned out to be.

    “The team was absolutely brilliant, Geraint [Thomas] did a hell of a job on the last climb.”

    Overall, Porte said he was “pleased with my form, I’m pretty much where I want to...