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by Matt de Neef
November 19, 2015
Photography by Jered & Ashley Gruber and Cor Vos
In this morning’s edition of the CyclingTips Daily News Digest: Valverde to race on the cobbles then target the Giro; UCI president Brian Cookson has confidence in Russian cycling; JJ Rojas’ expected heart procedure deemed unnecessary, exploratory check rules out danger; Cavendish to mentor Madison Genesis Continental team; Team Dimension Data to set up development programme in Italy, splits with World Cycling Centre Africa; Phil Liggett on his support for Lance Armstrong; Italian town pays people to cycle to work; GOGO Hellcross 2015; The Fixx Cyclocross mudbath; The Mighty Corinthian.
Movistar went into this year’s Tour de France with two leaders — Nairo Quintana and Alejandro Valverde — but in 2016 Valverde will be in a clearer support role for his Colombian teammate. Speaking to Cyclingnews, Movistar manager Eusebio Unzue has said that Valverde will instead target the Giro d’Italia with hopes of winning the race overall.
“[Valverde’s] got his podium finish [third in 2015] and we can’t partly build our race round that goal again when we’ve also got a rider like Nairo, who’s clearly got the opportunity of winning the Tour,” Unzue said. “It would be more a case of the Giro being a target for Alejandro then for him to ride as team support for Nairo in the Tour de France.”
Valverde will also ride the Tour of Flanders in 2016, in addition to Fleche Wallonne and Liege-Bastogne-Liege, both of which he won this year.
“Luckily, he doesn’t need new challenges to continue to be motivated. But I don’t want that to stop Alejandro from experiencing the magic of a start of of Tour of Flanders, even if it’s a race where he’ll be finding out what he can do. The other reason why I want him to do Flanders is that he knows what the Belgium of the Ardennes is like, so I want him to experience the other kind of Belgian racing, the Belgium of the pavés.”
Valverde will race two other cobbled semi-classics, Dwars Door Vlaanderen and E3 Harelbeke, in the lead up to the Tour of Flanders.
Click here to read more at Cyclingnews.
UCI president Brian Cookson has told Sky Sports that the doping scandal surrounding Russian athletics has not reduced his confidence in the Russian Cycling Federation.
“I have always had concerns about all nations and all teams in our sport,” Cookson said. “I think it would be foolish of me to say I didn’t have any concerns about any particular geography, any particular country, any particular branch of our sport.
“But I’m confident that the people running the Russian Cycling Federation are trying to do the right thing and I’m sure that if there were any problems there, they would not want to cover them up at all.
“We have truly independent processes here [at the UCI] – the Cycling Anti-Doping Foundation, the Anti-Doing Tribunal, the legal service. All that happens without my direct involvement. I don’t ask them to target anybody or any nation or team, and equally, I don’t tell them not to target any team or nation or individual.”
Russian track and field athletes were provisionally suspended last week after an investigation accused Russian athletics of “state sponsored doping” and a “deeply rooted culture of cheating”.
Click here to read more at Sky Sports.
by Shane Stokes
A day after the news that José Joaquín Rojas would undergo a heart procedure to address an issue discovered last week by Movistar’s medical staff, his team has said the issue was more straightforward than initially believed.
On Tuesday Rojas said that he had a condition called Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome, which causes bursts of rapid heart rate.
Usually harmless for those who follow a regular life, it is a more complicated issue for top level sportspeople.
“I have been told that they will insert a catheter through my groin and burn the fibres that cause this anomaly,” he said, speaking about the procedure in the hospital of Navarra.”
However, Dr Alfredo Zuñiga, of the Movistar Team medical service, told CyclingTips that this burning of fibres – known as an ablation – was ultimately deemed unnecessary.
Click here to read more at CyclingTips.
As part of his new role at Dimension Data in 2016, Mark Cavendish will spend time helping to develop young riders on the British Continental team, Madison Genesis.
“The partnership, with arguably the greatest sprinter of all time, will see Cavendish dedicate some time to the Madison Genesis team to help young riders develop into accomplished World Tour competitors,” stated the squad on Wednesday.
The news comes at the same as an announcement that Madison Genesis manager Roger Hammond will take up a director sportif role at Dimension Data next season.
“I’m so proud that Mark will join Madison Genesis on the next phase of the team’s journey,” stated Hammond. “I have known Mark a long time, his knowledge and passion for the sport is second to none. Combined with his enthusiasm to help nurture and support the up and coming generations, I could not have ever hoped for a better person to look to the future with team.”
by Shane Stokes
Facing a drop in funding for 2016 after Team MTN-Qhubeka/Dimension Data opted not to continue its partnership, the World Cycling Centre Africa (WCCA) has said that it will take a new direction next season and beyond.
“Basically we will just be doing development training camps now,” WCCA director Jean Pierre (JP) Van Zyl told CyclingTips. “We will concentrate more on women’s cycling. We will still work with the men but we will shift the focus a bit more on women’s cycling going forward. That will also fit into the budget that I do have from the UCI.”
MTN-Qhubeka had been a long-term sponsor of the WCCA, providing an estimated 20 percent of its budget. He said that this enabled the project to send riders to Europe to race, acting as a bridge between those learning the trade and those who were ready to try to move to the next level.
The MTN-Qhubeka U23 feeder team associated with the WCCA will be moved to Lucca where the Pro Continental team is based.
“We weren’t given reasons, [MTN-Qhubeka principal Doug Ryder] just said that he wants to do it in house,” Van Zyl said. “Obviously he has a much bigger budget, many times the budget we are given to run the feeder team.”
Cycling commentator Phil Liggett had always believed in and defended Lance Armstrong and it wasn’t until the Texan finally revealed his past indiscretions that Liggett’s tone changed. Speaking to ABC Radio in Sydney, Liggett has reflected on his support for Armstrong.
“All I wanted was the absolute proof [of Armstrong’s wrongdoing],” he said. “I stood by him of course and it certainly was to my detriment.
“I must confess Lance has never rung up and thanked me for standing by him … Nobody is a friend of Lance Armstrong. I don’t believe he’s got any friends.”
Click here to read more at the ABC.
The Italian town of Massarosa is trying to encourage more people to ride to work by offering incentives to those who do so. A pilot scheme will see riders paid 25 cents (AUD 37c) per kilometre ridden, to a daily maximum of €6 (AUD$9) and €50 (AUD$75) monthly.
Some €30,000 (AUD$45,000) has reportedly been set aside for the scheme and no more than 10 workers from the same organisation can apply. The scheme has been financed by traffic tickets collected in town.
This program is not the first of its kind — France introduced a pilot scheme in 2014, also offering 25c per kilometre.
Click here to read more at road.cc.
The following video is from the third edition of GOGO Hellcross 2015, a single-speed cyclocross race in Esquelmes, Belgium. Looks like fun!
Elsewhere in the world of cyclocross, this rider in the Fixx CX race in Dublin wasn’t about to wait to get muddy. He figured he’d get it out of the way nice and early …
The Mighty Corinthian is a new sportive coming to the UK’s Lake District in 2016; a sportive in the style of L’Eroica. Open only to people riding pre-1987 bikes, and at 301km in length, The Mighty Corinthian is being billed as “the longest retro cycling event in the world”.
And finally this morning, here are a few things you might have missed at CyclingTips in the past few days: