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by Shane Stokes
November 19, 2014
In this morning’s edition of the Rocacorba Daily news digest: Lighter and with renewed morale, Porte excited about 2015: “I’d love to have a big year”; Retirement or alternative offer? Sanchez won’t be with BMC Racing Team in 2015; Bora – Argon 18 chasing another invite to Tour de France; ASO confirms starting teams for Tours of Qatar and Oman; Spectator injured in Tour of Flanders crash will be disabled for life; Lefevere not happy with Cavendish riding Ghent Six, rider offers to refund €15,000 cost; Former Cirque du Soleil performer amongst circus artists aiming for UCI Indoor Cycling world championships; Tongue in cheek love song to Alberto Contador
Stating he is over a stone lighter than he was twelve months ago, Richie Porte has said he has got over the disappointment of a season frustrated by illness and is raring to go for 2015.
Any thoughts that the Australian’s morale might still be dented after an at-times difficult year have been dismissed, with the Team Sky rider saying that he is highly motivated to turn things around and show what he can do.
“Probably the only good thing about having a bad year is that it does make you hungrier,” the 29 year old said in an interview with TeamSky.com.
“It was a rough season. It started well and I was where I needed to be in January and February, but I got sick a few times which meant I didn’t had the most straightforward year. In October I came off a month of antibiotics and I feel much, much better.
“I’m coming into this period seven kilos lighter than I was at this time last year. I’m definitely ready to go and ready to really step it up. I’d love to have a big year.”
Porte looked on course for a strong season when he finished third in the national road race championships in January and then went on to win a stage and place fourth in the Santos Tour Down Under. He followed those performances up with second in the Vuelta a Andalucia, but then had several months where his health complicated things vis-à-vis his results.
He rode well early in Tirreno-Adriatico but was a non-starter on stage five. He also withdrew from the Volta a Catalunya, Liège-Bastogne-Liège and the Tour de Romandie, then made the decision not to ride the Giro d’Italia.
Click here to read the full story on CyclingTips.
Although he recent hinted he has a contract offer with the BMC Racing Team for 2015 and also spoke about his contentment with the squad, Samuel Sanchez won’t be competing with the American team in 2015.
Team spokesperson Georges Luchinger confirmed to CyclingTips Tuesday that the rider would not be in the team colours next season. “Samuel decided to not stay and we respect this,” he stated.
Three weeks ago the 2008 Olympic road race champion spoke in warm terms about the team.
“In BMC they are pleased with me and I with them,” he told Ciclo21.com. “I’ve adapted very well and I have made new friends, which is always important.
“I have contributed significantly to the victories of Gilbert in Amstel Gold Race, the ZLM Toer and now in China. In all of those I was helping. We are second in the WorldTour for teams so it has been a good year.”
He also said then that he was relaxed about his situation for next season.
“I’m rested, relaxed and without worry about next year. It is nothing like the situation in the past when the Euskaltel-Euskadi team disappeared and it was very hard,” he said, referring to that team stopping twelve months ago.
Ciclo21.com said that it understood he had been offered a renewal of his current contract.
“Any decision will be made by me. If I want to keep riding I will because I have a place, and if I do not I will take other decisions, but I have not thought of anything yet,” he said then, adding that there was no rush. “My agent was in Japan at the Saitama Criterium and I will talk to him on his return.”
It is not clear if his decision not to renew with the BMC Racing Team means he will now retire, or if he has received another offer elsewhere and decided to opt for that.
Having ridden the Tour de France this year and secured seventh place overall with Leopold Konig, the former NetApp Endura squad – which will be known by the new name of Bora – Argon 18 in 2015 – has said that targeting the race again next season is its top priority.
The squad is the sole German professional cycling team and with national terrestrial TV from that country tipped to return to the Tour next season after a long absence, the team would likely earn considerable publicity from, and for, the race.
It held a meeting at its home base in Bavaria today, outlining its plans to German media outlets while in the presence of the Tour de France race director Christian Prudhomme.
“We want to be back at the Tour de France next year,” said Bora Argon 18 team manager Ralph Denk. “We are trying very hard to get a wild card and are quite candid about our goal.
“It is thus a great honour to have Christian Prudhomme visiting our team in Bavaria today. The mere fact that he has made the effort underscores the Tour’s interest in Germany. And our team makes a small contribution to this.”
The team’s approach to the race may prove to be different to last July. Konig has moved to Team Sky, thus causing Bora – Aragon 18 to be without its key GC rider next season.
At the same time the leadout train has been strengthened by the signing of Shane Archbold; this could point towards the team targeting bunch gallops instead, most likely with its sprinter Sam Bennett.
Still, Denk believes that it might have a new GC rider. Dominik Nerz has come on board and was 14th and 18th in the past two editions of the Vuelta a España.
Click here to read more at CyclingTips.
Meanwhile Bora – Argon 18, MTN Qhubeka and other teams pushing for wildcard invites to the Tour de France got an apparent boost to their prospects of riding that race when they were confirmed as selected for ASO’s Tours of Qatar and Oman.
According to MTN Qhubeka’s general manager Brian Smith, who was speaking to CyclingTips recently, selection for those races would be interpreted by him as increasing the likelihood of a first-ever Tour de France ride.
“We were the first team to meet with them,” he said, referring to ASO. “I don’t know when the Tour places will be announced. Last year it was early on in January. I am hoping it is going to be the same. We will get a good indication if we get confirmed for Qatar and Oman. I think that looks very possible.
“If that happens, it puts us in good stead for the ASO events. We had a good meeting with them. Things look good. We have strengthened the team and we really want to go there.”
Both teams were part of 18-squad lineups confirmed for the two events on Tuesday. Interestingly, Astana is also part of those startlists. The team had three positive tests in recent months and is currently under review by the UCI Licence Commission.
The Tour of Qatar will run from February 8 to 13, while the Tour of Oman follows from February 17 to 22. The team selections for both races are as follows:
Toursof Qatar and Oman: Orica Greenedge (Australia), Etixx – Quick-Step Cycling Team and Topsport Vlaanderen – Baloise* (Belgium), Cofidis, Solutions Credits*, FDJ (France), Bora – Argon 18 (Germany)*, Team Sky (Great Britain), Bardiani CSF*, Lampre-Merida (Italy), Astana Pro Team (Kazakhstan), Team Giant-Alpecin (Netherlands), Team Katusha, Tinkoff-Saxo (Russia), MTN – Qhubeka (South Africa)*, Movistar Team (Spain), IAM Cycling (Switzerland)*, BMC Racing Team, Trek Factory Racing (USA).
* = 2014 Pro Continental squad
Although doctors initially said that the spectator who was accidentally injured by Garmin-Sharp rider and former Paris-Roubaix winner Johan Vansummeren in this year’s Tour of Flanders should make a solid recovery, her family have learned that this now won’t happen.
According to Het Laatste Nieuws, the Belgian woman, Marie-Claire Moreels, will be partially paralysed for the rest of her life. “She talks like a two year old,” her husband Philippe said.
The crash occurred after just under 60 kilometres of racing in the Classic on April 6. The road split right and left around a traffic island, where Moreels was standing. Vansummeren didn’t see the divide and crashed into the woman, who fell heavily and appeared to be knocked out.
She was more badly hurt than the rider, who received stitches to his face but was able to compete in Paris-Roubaix.
The 66 year old woman initially had a prognosis which gave hope, according to her husband. “I had a conversation with an anaesthetist,” he said. “She told me that Marie-Claire had suffered severe trauma, but that all would largely come good again.”
However the family were told earlier this month that the right side of her body would remain paralysed, meaning that she must use a wheelchair and be helped to eat, use the toilet and to get into bed.
Although medical costs have racked up to approximately €10,000, the family are yet to receive any compensation. The accident is being investigated by a prosecutor and no payout can be made until that is concluded.
“I have a certificate from the Federal Social Security that she is severely handicapped, but everything is blocked until there is a decision in the criminal investigation,” her husband said. “It is nevertheless certain that my wife will be heavily in need for the rest of her life. It’s unbelievable.”
Vansummeren is moving to the French AG2R La Mondiale squad, where he will compete for the next two seasons. He was understandably traumatised by the crash and its outcome.
Click here to read the full story at Het Laatste Nieuws.
Chris Horner is said to have found a team for next season but the official announcement is still a few days away. InCycle caught up with Horner to see how he was recovering from a horrific crash suffered back in April after a hit and run incident with a vehicle in Italy.
Although Omega Pharma-QuickStep manager, Patrick Lefevere said that he is in principle “not in favour” of Mark Cavendish‘s participation in the Ghent Six-Day, the Belgian has said that he will turn down the British rider’s offer to refund the €15,000 cost to the team of his participation.
“It’s not about the risk of a crash or about the event itself,” Lefevere said to Het Nieuwsblad. “We just faced the question: How do we keep him fit? Because Mark also likes doing it, we allowed it. However I’m still not in favour of it.”
Lefevere points out that participating in the race complicates things in relation to the riders’ off-winter schedule, saying that he believes the date should sync better with the road season and the team training camps. He is also disgruntled with the money he must pay to have his own riders take part. “For my own cyclists, which I already pay a monthly wage, I have to give a ridiculous €15,000 so that they can compete in the Omega Pharma-QuickStep jersey,” Lefevere added. “Cavendish offered to pay me back, but I refused. He has the right, just like the other riders, to keep his starting money.
“The organiser Rob Discart may say that the Ghent Six-Day would go on without Cavendish and Keisse, but I’d say that we’ve given him a beautiful present.”
Cavendish previously raced on the track in world championships and Olympic Games while part of the Great Britain squad. He has said before that he believes velodrome competition is a boost to his speed.
Click here to read the full story on Het Nieuwsblad.
The UCI’s Indoor Cycling world championships is known for its extraordinary skill level and visual feats, and will this year feature entries from two professional circus artists and two circus school students. All Canadians, they will compete in the championships in the Czech Republic next weekend, and are currently training in Germany with Kathrin Igel of Promotion Club Indoor Cycling in order to perfect their technique and to familiarise themselves with the rules and regulations of international artistic cycling competition.
She conducts daily training sessions of four to six hours and also offers accommodation for these young athletes who are paying their own way to the World Championships. “I think it’s very important to support and help other nations,” she states. “I can see how difficult it is for them.”
One of those Candians is Maxime Poulin, a former Cirque du Soleil performer, who has been working with Igel since October 31st.
“I gain so much experience each time,” said Poulin, who will be competing for the third consecutive year. “When I train in Germany I learn new movements and the emphasis is on perfection. Kathrin has taught me so much and pushed me to try things I was too scared to do. I love training here.”
Despite his background, he doesn’t expect to be in the medals. That’s a reflection of the skill level involved, but Poulin is content to continue working. He said that his goal is to “keep getting better, learn more tricks and get more stable on my bike.”
Another Canadian, Francis Gadbois, will also take part. However his need to juggle his participation with professional commitments means he has had to return for a few days to Dubai where he is appearing in a show.
In the video above: Patrick Klein of France competes in the 2012 UCI Indoor Cycling World Championships.
Click here to read more on UCI.ch.
The video below shows an unusual – and very creative – song dedicated to Alberto Contador, winner of this year’s Vuelta a España and past champion in the Tour de France and Giro d’Italia. Speaking of two singers’ affections for the rider, it also discusses high and low points of his career as well as the female chanteuse’s passion for the rider and her desire to get hold of his phone number.
Tongue in cheek while also featuring a good tune and solid production, it’s well worth a watch.
And finally this morning, here are a few things you might have missed at CyclingTips: