Distress call from Mauro Santambrogio?

We’re not quite sure what to make of this, but we’ve just seen on Twitter that Mauro Santambrogio tweeted out the following about an hour ago:

Translation: “Goodbye world”. When asked by someone “what world? why goodbye?” Santambrogio replied:

As far as we can tell, that means “I can’t take it anymore”. We’re really hoping that this isn’t as serious as it sounds and that friends are near.

Contador eyes Tour, Vuelta double as Saxo ups backing

Spanish cyclist Alberto Contador is targeting victory in both the Tour de France and Vuelta a Espana in 2014 after investment firm Saxo Bank increased its commitment to sponsor the Danish team led by former Tour winner Bjarne Riis.

Tour de France 2013 stage-9

Saxo Bank will become the sole name for the team formally known as Saxo-Tinkoff after Russian businessman Oleg Tinkov announced his intention to withdraw his funding of the team for 2014.

“Saxo has decided to step up its commitment in 2014 and with that help we are able to continue the team. This is fantastic news for us, our riders and our fans,” Riis told a press conference in Madrid on Thursday.

“We are extremely grateful to Saxo Bank and the commitment they have shown to us over the last number of years is very important.

“It is a team that will be as strong as it was last year. We have the same quality of riders. Our aim is to be amongst the best in the world tour and hopefully achieve a lot of wins.”

Contador didn’t enjoy the best 2013 season on the road as he finished a disappointing fourth in his quest for a third Tour de France victory and decided against defending his Vuelta a Espana title.

However, he intends to return to ride in his homeland in 2014 and believes he is capable of winning both races.

“I am already thinking about 2014 and I am hopeful it will be a good year for us,” he said. “We didn’t meet all our objectives in 2013, but sometimes it is normal that you don’t always win.

“The Vuelta has many great memories for me, it has given me many things and it is obviously is the race of my country.

“Independently of how the Tour de France goes, unless there is something unexpected, I will be at the Vuelta and I hope to have a good race. I believe it is possible to win both as they are completely compatible. If I thought I couldn’t win both then I would only go for one.”

Text via AFP.

Cookson to investigate Tour of Beijing organiser’s conflicts of interest

The Tour of Beijing starts tomorrow and it’s a race that’s been plagued by some controversy since it began. The company that organises the race, Global Cycling Promotion (GCP) is owned by the UCI and has been accused of a lack of transparency.

“The operations and status of the UCI’s GCP unit are unclear even to those within the UCI. I will ensure absolute transparency of its purpose and function and will eliminate GCP’s conflicts of interest with other race promoters,” Cookson wrote in his manifesto. “Its focus should shift to elevating existing and new races around the world. This can be done by providing development capital and expertise in a way that shares the benefits equitably with the independent organizers and national federations.”

Cookson has announced plans to speak with GCP CEO Alain Rumpf about the promotions company and the Tour of Beijing’s future.

Click here to read more.

How Purito Rodriguez won the 2013 WorldTour

This is a really cool gallery piece from the guys at VeloNews that simply shows the moments throughout the season in which Joaquim Rodriguez picked up valuable WorldTour points.

Fleche Wallone 2012 Elite

Rodriguez ended up winning the WorldTour with 607 points, 20 clear of Chris Froome and 67 clear of compatriot Alejandro Valverde.

Click here to see the article and click here to see the final rankings in the 2013 WorldTour.

Tour de France route rumours

Earlier this week the route for the 2014 Giro d’Italia was announced. It’s still nearly two weeks until we find out exactly where next year’s Tour de France will go but in the meantime check out velowire for some of the rumours about what next year’s Tour might feature.

You can find the article in question here.

Kimmage confirms Cookson is ending legal action against him

New UCI president Brian Cookson has confirmed with journalist Paul Kimmage that he is shutting down the pending legal action against Kimmage that was set up by Hein Verbruggen and Pat McQuaid.

“I had a call from [Cookson], just before he went to Beijing,” Kimmage told VeloNation. “He told me that they were in the process of issuing a release to the extent that the they are going to drop the case against me.”

The lawsuit was set up in early 2012 when Verbruggen and McQuaid claimed articles written by Kimmage for the Sunday Times and L’Equipe were defamatory. The legal action prompted the founding of the Paul Kimmage Defense Fund and the controversy that surrounded that.

For much more about Paul Kimmage, Brian Cookson and the UCI check out this article at VeloNation.

Women’s Tour (of Britain) receives same classification as men’s tour

The UCI has awarded a 2.1 classification to next year’s inaugural “Women’s Tour”, a women’s version of the Tour of Britain, leaving race organisers “absolutely delighted”.

Hannah Barnes celebrates winning on Whitehall last month. Image appears courtesy of thetour.co.uk.

Hannah Barnes celebrates winning on Whitehall last month. Image appears courtesy of thetour.co.uk.

The 2.1 rating will place the Women’s Tour alongside top women’s events such as the Giro Rosa, the Emakumeen Euskal Bira, the Route de France and Thuringen-Rundfahrt. With the Giro della Toscana looking unlikely to happen in 2014 after a controversy-marred race this year, there are unlikely to be any 2.HC races (the highest ranking) on the women’s calendar.

“This is fantastic news for Northamptonshire and I am very pleased that we will be hosting the first stage of this prestigious event,” said Deputy leader for Northamptonshire County Council Councillor Heather Smith. “Not only will The Women’s Tour bring significant economic benefits to the county, it is also a real opportunity to promote cycling and women’s sport locally.”

Race organisers SweetSpot were recently left disappointed when the men’s Tour of Britain wasn’t upgraded to 2.HC classification, remaining with a 2.1 status for the 10th year in a row instead.

Click here to read more at VeloNation.

The joys of riding in the rain?

Cycling in the rain isn’t the most enjoyable part of the sport — the cold, the wheelspray, the shoes that never seem to get dry. But this feature article in Bicycling by Mike Magnuson suggests that if you’re properly prepared — mentally, technically and gear-wise — then a rain-soaked ride can actually “precipitate a sense of freedom, joy, and accomplishment”. What do you reckon? Ever had a rainy ride that was enjoyable?

Rapha Condor JLT at the Tour of Britain

Here’s a nice behind-the-scenes video with the Rapha Condor JLT team from the recent Tour of Britain. Worth checking out just for Kristian House’s insight (and his terrific American/British/Australian? accent).

The Rocacorba Recap

And finally this morning, here are a few things you might have missed this week:

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