Cycling News

  • Wild aims to bring winning sprint to 2019 Women's WorldTour

    Kirsten Wild is off to a winning start with her new team WNT-Rotor after securing the victory in the Omnium at the Six Days Bremen in Germany this weekend. The Dutchwoman will now turn her attention to the UCI Track World Championships and the defence of her three world titles in the Omnium, Points Race and Scratch Race, before bringing her winning sprint back to road racing during the 2019 Women's WorldTour.

    "I will try to have a good result at the World Championships and to have the world titles again," Wild told Cyclingnews about her targets for Worlds held from February 27 to March 3 in Poland.

    "I'm not only aiming for three world titles again because that is something you cannot plan. I will try to be on my best form, and I hope that ends with some good results."

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    Asked if she had a preferred track event, Wild said "no," but she will line up as the favourite for all three events given her success during the World Cup season so far. Wild is indeed a favourite for the Omnium having won the World Cup rounds in France and London.

    Her Omnium victory in the Six Day Bremen was made even more special by the fact that her new WNT-Rotor teammate Lisa Brennauer stood on the podium next to her in third place.

    "It was nice because the sponsor was there and so that was very nice that both of us were on the podium," Wild said.

    You can read more at Cyclingnews.com

  • Nairo Quintana downplays head-to-head with Chris Froome at Tour Colombia

    Nairo Quintana (Movistar) has downplayed the significance of his head-to-head meeting with Chris Froome (Team Sky) at next month's Tour Colombia. In a press conference in Bogota on Monday, Quintana pointed out that both riders would be lining out in the Colombian race with the principal aim of accumulating racing kilometres as they build towards the Tour de France.

    "It's very early to start thinking about different strategies," Quintana said, according to Marca. "You have to see how we're each going and how each team is working, but in truth he is like any other rival. He will surely come with the same objectives as me: to start [his season] and do the kilometres to get to the Tour de France in very good shape."

    Quintana endured a disappointing 2018 season, placing 10th overall at the Tour and 8th at the Vuelta a España. Despite that setback, the 28-year-old will target the Tour once again this season. He will be accompanied in Movistar's Tour line-up by Mikel Landa, while world champion Alejandro Valverde is set to ride the Giro d'Italia.

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    Now in its second edition – the inaugural event was labelled Colombia Paz y Oro – the Tour Colombia remains a six-day event, but has shifted to a slightly later date. The race gets underway with a team time trial in Medellin on February 12 and concludes with a finish on Alto de Palmas on February 17.

    This year's Tour Colombia will take place in the Antioquia department, while Quintana's home department of Boyaca is pencilled in to host the 2020 edition of the race. Quintana placed third overall in last year's Colombia Paz y Oro, which was won by fellow countryman Egan Bernal (Team Sky).

    Bernal is due to return to the race this year alongside Froome, Tao Geoghegan Hart and new signing Ivan Sosa. Quintana is set to be joined in the Movistar line-up by Carlos Betancur, Winner Anacona, Marc Soler and Richard Carapaz. Valverde confirmed via a video message on Monday that he will not race in Colombia this season, though he pledged to line out at the event in 2020.

    You can read more at Cyclingnews.com

  • Brajkovic blames doping positive on contaminated supplement

    Janez Brajkovic has reacted to the 10-month ban that the UCI handed him for a Methylhexanamine positive from last year, writing in his personal blog that although the UCI accepted his reasons for the positive test, "Cycling is a sport where unfortunately, they'll smack you with higher, rather than minimum sanction".

    "I knew that suspension was inevitable, but my main goal was for UCI to accept that it was unintentional due to contaminated product," Brajkovic wrote.

    "And yes, they came back, accepting my beliefs. Now even though it was non intentional, it shouldn't be taken lightly, that's why they proposed 10 month suspension."

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    Brajkovic blamed the positive on a meal replacement supplement he took, which was made by a company that used to make a pre-workout product that contained Methylhexanamine (MH).

    "From what information I was able to obtain," his sample had 20-40 times less of the substance compared with other athletes who tested positive for MH.

    Brajkovic chose to accept the ban, rather than go through the Anti-doping Tribunal process. "Honestly, I just didn't have more energy or money to fight it, so I accepted it. There are still some things that are going on and [that] could reduce my suspension, but I just don't want to wait anymore."

    You can read more at Cyclingnews.com

  • Tour Down Under: Viviani triumphs - Podcast

    In the latest episode of the Cyclingnews podcast, brought to you in association with Sportful, Pinarello and Floyd's of Leadville, we look back at stage 1 of the Tour Down Under.

    The Tour Down Under's opening stage saw a sprinting masterclass from Elia Viviani, with the Italian winning in Port Adelaide and taking the first leader's jersey of this year's race. We hear from Viviani, Caleb Ewan and Patrick Bevin, who was in the break and has emerged as a possible GC contender. We've also got an exclusive interview with Dimension Data's Michael Valgren on his Classics campaign and move from Astana to Dimension Data.

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    You can read more at Cyclingnews.com

  • Bardet sets sights on Milan-San Remo

    Romain Bardet has set his sights on Milan-San Remo and is planning to line up at La Classicissima for only the second time in his career on March 23. 

    The Frenchman last raced Milan-San Remo in 2013, finishing 17th in an edition of the spring Monument that was disrupted by heavy snowfall

    While Bardet is known primarily as a Grand Tour racer, having finished on the podium at the Tour de France in 2016 and 2017, his stand-out performances in 2018 came in one-day races.

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    He won the Classic de l'Ardèche at the start of the season, before finishing second at Strade Bianche, second at the Tour du Finistère, ninth at La Flèche Wallonne, and third at Liège-Bastogne-Liège. Later in the season he was runner-up at the Giro della Toscana before taking the silver medal at the World Championships road race in Innsbruck, missing out on the rainbow jersey in a sprint with Alejandro Valverde.

    Bardet will line up at Paris-Nice between March 10-17, and at the Volta a Catalunya between March 25-31. He plans to slot Milan-San Remo into the middle but, with only a day separating it from the start of Catalunya, his team were keen to stress that it wasn't set in stone.

    "It's Romain's choice that he wants to add Milan-San Remo to his initial programme, but nothing has been definitively decided. It will all depend how things go at Paris-Nice. AG2R La Mondiale directeur sportif Julien Jurdie told L'Equipe.

    You can read more at Cyclingnews.com

  • Tramadol ban to come into effect on March 1

    The UCI has confirmed that its proposed ban of the painkiller tramadol will come into effect on March 1. The governing body also detailed the punishments to be handed out if a rider tests positive, with penalties ranging from CHF 5,000 for a first offence to a nine-month suspension for a third offence.

    In June of last year, the UCI announced its intention to ban tramadol from 2019, but later said that the measure was not likely to come into force until March.

    Tramadol has been a hot topic in cycling for the best part of a decade and many have called for it to be put on the World Anti-Doping Agency’s (WADA) banned list. It is currently on the monitored list – where it has been since 2012 – and WADA has toyed with the idea of banning it but has not yet taken that step. WADA has previously stated it is happy with the UCI banning tramadol independently of the WADA code. 

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    A study of WADA's 2017 Monitoring Report data last year found that between 71 and 82 per cent of positive results for the painkiller came from cycling. In addition, as many as four per cent of all doping controls from within the sport showed traces of the substance.

    Tramadol is an opioid pain medication and has side-effects that have the potential to cause crashes during races. It is for safety, then, that the UCI has chosen to ban it from the peloton, rather than for any performance-enhancing qualities it might have.

    "The use of tramadol can have two types of side-effect: nausea, drowsiness and loss of concentration (increasing the risk of race crashes), and gradual dependence on the substance with a risk of developing an addiction," read a statement from the UCI. "Tramadol is available on prescription but is also freely available on the internet, which increases the risk of uncontrolled self-medication.

    You can read more at Cyclingnews.com

  • Samuele Manfredi out of coma

    Samuele Manfredi regained consciousness on Tuesday after spending more than a month in a coma following a training crash. 

    The 18-year-old Italian suffered serious head trauma when he was hit by a car while training in Liguria on December 10, and was put into an induced coma by doctors at the Pietra Ligure hospital. 

    Manfredi is signed to Groupama-FDJ’s development squad for 2019, and on Tuesday, the team confirmed that he is no longer in a coma.

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    "We have good news to share with you. Placed into an artificial coma since his serious accident on December 10, 2018, Samuele Manfredi woke up on Monday. He is no longer in a life-threatening condition but he will now start a long recovery process," read the statement. 

    "Samuele's family would like to thank you for all the messages of support they've received."

    Manfredi is considered one of Italy's top talents. He won the junior Gent-Wevelgem and finished runner-up at Paris-Roubaix last year, as well as becoming junior European champion on the track in the individual pursuit. 

    You can read more at Cyclingnews.com

  • Enric Mas: I want to win the 2019 Tour de France

    After his podium finish at the Vuelta a España last year – in only his second Grand Tour – expectations surrounding Enric Mas are as high as ever. The rider dubbed 'the next Alberto Contador' heads to the Tour de France for the first time in 2019 and his own hopes are just as high, as he insisted he'll be there to try to win it.

    Mas discussed his Tour debut last week, sitting down in front of the media at Deceunicnk-Quick-Step's team presentation in Calpe. Moments beforehand, Quick-Step manager Patrick Lefevere had made reference to the 'next Contador' moniker – imparted by the seven-time Grand Tour winner himself – and how it was a 'poisoned chalice'.

    Mas, who has in the past insisted he'd rather be seen as the first Enric Mas rather than the new Alberto Contador, seems to have successfully deflected the pressure, having only turned 24 last week. 

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    "I now just take it as a joke," Mas said of being compared to Contador. "The pressure I put on myself is the biggest of all."

    As well as having ridden for the Fundación Contador development team, the speed of Mas' rise does draw comparisons with Contador, who won the Tour de France in 2007 on what was only his second Grand Tour appearance. Mas turned pro with Quick-Step in 2017, riding the Vuelta in his first season before going back to claim a memorable third place overall last September.

    While Bob Jungels, the team's other Grand Tour general classification leader, will return to the Giro d'Italia in 2019, Mas feels ready to lead the line at the Tour de France.

    Team support

    You can read more at Cyclingnews.com

  • Tour Down Under: CCC start season successfully through Bevin and Mareczko

    It may be a team with a new sponsor rather than a new team, per se, but CCC Team's first outing in their new guise – the squad was formerly known as BMC Racing – was a successful one on stage 1 of the Tour Down Under on Tuesday, with Paddy Bevin spending the day in the break and picking up a number of bonus seconds before Jakub Mareczko sprinted to third place on the stage.

    Bevin escaped with Team Sunweb's Michael Storer, Jason Lea (UniSA-Australia) and Artyom Zakharov (Astana), and while Zakharov later dropped back to the relative safety of the peloton on what was a scorching hot day on the stage between North Adelaide and Port Adelaide, the trio battled on until eventually being caught. Bevin's efforts, however, netted the New Zealander five bonus seconds, putting him into third place on the general classification by the end of the day.

    "It was definitely our intention to go out there after the bonus seconds," Bevin explained. "We talked about it yesterday, and if they were going to let a group roll away and you could kind of sneak off the front and take some sneaky time in a race that's often decided on count back or bonus seconds, then why not take the opportunity?"

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    In making his move, Bevin made his general classification ambitions clear.

    "Absolutely," he said. "That was a GC play today, and although it's a bit of a gamble when it's this hot, it's this hot for everyone. There are not too many times in this race where you can say, 'Hey, there are two intermediate sprints out there with bonus seconds on offer just for being out there," so we went out and took them. It means we start the next five stages with a head start."

    If there's a downside to burning some of your matches so early, it's that Bevin could struggle in the coming days. The 27-year-old, however, thinks it's a risk worth taking.

    Mareczko in the mix

    You can read more at Cyclingnews.com

  • Tour Down Under: Ewan and Lotto Soudal flounder on stage 1

    In truth, Caleb Ewan was never in contention for the win on stage 1 of the Tour Down Under. Once the hammer went down inside the final kilometres, and despite the earlier work from his team, the Australian sprinter was on the back foot, and would eventually cross the line in 26th place.

    Unlike on Sunday, when he showed a clean pair of heels to his opposition to win the Down Under Classic, stage 1 from North Adelaide to Port Adelaide demonstrated that the Lotto Soudal lead-out train still has a lot of work ahead of them if they and Ewan are to fill the shoes of their former sprinter Andre Greipel.

    The defeat today was in sharp contrast to Elia Viviani and his Deceuninck-QuickStep teammates who claimed the stage and the first leader's jersey of this year's race. One team was a well-oiled machine, the other full of promise but with no reward.

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    "In the final few hundred metres, I was way out of position. I was constantly trying to move up in the last kilometre. I tried to start sprinting with a couple of hundred metres to go, but I knew as soon as I started that I didn't have much left," an upfront and honest Ewan told the press at the finish.

    "It's one of those finals that was really tricky when it came to predicting what would happen. It was pretty tough from the start, but then we caught the break super early. Then the race shut down from there," he explained. "Then teams were just waiting to start their lead-outs. We didn't want to go too early because of the headwind, and when it got really hectic there in the last two corners, we lost each other a little bit. I got squeezed off the wheel and I was left trying to catch back up."

    Sunday's win at the Down Under Classic suggested that Ewan and his new lead-out train could hit the ground running when the WorldTour event began on Tuesday. Although Sunday's criterium was affected by crashes that held up several of Ewan's opponents, the 24-year-old was still well-placed and strong enough to win. One victory, and this one defeat, will not define Ewan's year, and the former Mitchelton rider suggested that his train was still looking for its rhythm.

    You can read more at Cyclingnews.com

  • Viviani masterclass seals Tour Down Under stage 1

    There was no sound to accompany the live race feed in the press room on stage 1 of the Tour Down Under, but in a sense that only made Elia Viviani's win all the more impressive. Without commentary, the room fell silent, eyes fixed to the monitor that lay on the floor as the Italian cut his way through the chaos and mayhem to take a win that displayed all his true skills as a world-class sprinter: silence and speed – a breathtaking combination to behold.

    It may only have been stage 1 of the Tour Down Under, and against rusty opposition and lead-out trains still finding their rhythm, but Deceuninck-QuickStep's Viviani was nothing but exceptional. What made the sprint so beautiful was the fact that it looked effortless.

    By the time the live television feed found its voice, and Viviani was on the podium, his weary opposition were scratching their heads as they made the long ride back to the centre of Adelaide. This could prove to be a long week for the other sprinters who came all this way from Europe, and Caleb Ewan, in particular, who was never in contention after a messy lead-out from his Lotto Soudal squad.

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    "It was a headwind sprint, and you don't want to be at the front too early," Viviani said as he greeted the gathering press after the podium celebrations.

    At five kilometres to go, with a number of sprint trains already in full swing, Viviani was doing nothing more than ghosting from wheel to wheel towards the back of the bunch. His teammates were scattered, and it looked as though he might still be struggling after his crash in Sunday's criterium. Those who doubted the Italian should have known better.

    As the kilometres passed, and the tension rose, Viviani found his verve, and while the opposition splintered and buckled in the heat, the Italian national champion moved closer and closer into contention. With the line in sight, but with a cross headwind to deal with, the 29-year-old showed incredible patience before cutting through on the lefthand side, between the barriers and Bahrain-Merida's Phil Bauhaus, before crossing the line first.

    You can read more at Cyclingnews.com

  • Slagter aiming to repeat podium performance at Tour Down Under

    All eyes have understandably been on Richie Porte (Trek-Segafredo), Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) and time trial world champion Rohan Dennis (Bahrain-Merida) in the build-up to the Tour Down Under, but spare a thought for 2013 overall champion Tom Jelte Slagter (Dimension Data).

    The Dutchman has been ticking over nicely during the winter and arrives in Australia with the aim of making it onto the overall podium. It’s not an unimaginable goal given that the 29-year-old finished third in last year’s race and returns with an arguably stronger team around him this year.

    “I come here with high expectations again,” the modest all-rounder told Cyclingnews at the start of stage 1 in Adelaide.

    “We come here with a very high level in the team, and we’ve got guys for both the stage and the GC. We’re going to try our very best.”

    Slagter’s 2013 win was based on his consistency. He won in Stirling and then finished second on Willunga Hill behind Simon Gerrans to move into the leader’s jersey with one stage to go. This year’s race once again takes on Willunga Hill, but there are also testing finishes that include the Corkscrew climb on stage 4, and a constantly undulating stage that includes more than 3,000 meters of climbing on the road to Uraildla the day before on stage 3. This year’s race route has been designed with hope that the GC riders will have more terrain than just Willunga to decide the outcome of the race.

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    “I like this year’s course. It’s harder than the ones in recent years. I hope that it’s in my favour, because I’ve trained a lot for this race. Hopefully it pays off. It’s hard to talk about minimum expectations, but the goal is the podium and after that we’ll see.

    “Willunga is going to be key, but then you’ve got stage 3, which will be hard, and then on stage 4 we have Corkscrew. We have to be ready for several days.”

    There is an argument that suggests Slagter’s level of form and fitness hasn’t dropped since his 2013 triumph and that the level of competition has simply improved around him. In 2017, Slagter posted the same time on Willunga Hill as in 2013, when he finished second. The only difference was that in 2017 he was dropped on the climb and lost 23 seconds to the stage winner Porte.

    “In the last 10 years the level has gone up and up and more teams have come here with a higher level and a GC guy," he said. "Last year I did more or less the same time on Willunga as when I won the race, but Richie was faster.”

    You can read more at Cyclingnews.com

  • Wyman signs for Experza-Footlogix

    Belgian team Experza-Footlogix announced the signing of multiple former British cyclo-cross champion Helen Wyman. The signing of Wyman solidifies the team’s decision to focus primarily on cyclo-cross.

    “Joining Experza is a natural step for me, and finally I will ride for the team owner Christel Herremans who I have known in the sport for such a long time,” said Wyman. “They are so motivated to give long term opportunities to ‘cross riders. Their plan is to help riders right through the categories is exciting and something I haven’t seen yet. It’s needed in the sport and to be a part of shaping that plan has been really good. Their plans link perfectly with mine and I can’t wait to get started.”

    Wyman, a professional for over a decade, has been racing as an individual rider under the banner of Xypex-Verge Sport for the last year. After lengthy discussions, she will be bringing some of her sponsors to her new team with Xypex, Kogel bearings and her bike supplier KindHuman Bicycles new additions to the jersey.

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    As well as riding for the team, Wyman will provide mentorship for the youthful team with the owners hoping to provide a set-up that accommodates junior, under 23 and elite women. In a press release on the team website, they confirmed that they will run training days in Belgium for young riders, who could them join their junior programme. The team will also hold training camps in South West France, Wyman’s adopted home.

    “With Helen, we have signed more than just a rider; we have signed a vital cog in the development of our team. Our transition from professional road team to UCI cyclocross team is such an exciting time for the team, and with Helen, we think we can accelerate our transition in the sport,” said team manager Christel Herremans.

    Wyman competed in her first race with the team in Otegem and finished fifth at 50 seconds behind the race winner Denise Betsema, while her new teammate, and recent runner up at the British national championships, Anna Kay finished eighth

    You can read more at Cyclingnews.com

  • Brajkovic suspended for 10 months

    Janez Brajkovic has been given a 10-month suspension from the UCI after testing positive for methylhexaneamine during the 2018 Tour of Croatia.

    The 35-year-old Slovenian was racing with the Continental squad Adria Mobil last season, but has not competed since being informed of the positive test.

    The UCI made no public statement about the suspension, only listing Brajkovic's ban on their periodic publication of "Consequences Imposed on License-Holders as Result of Anti-Doping Rule Violations (ADRV) as per the UCI Anti-Doping Rules (ADR)".

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    Brajkovic formerly raced with the Bahrain-Merida team in 2017 after two seasons with UnitedHealthcare. He spent three years with Astana and seven seasons with the Discovery Channel/Astana/RadioShack teams run by Johan Bruyneel.

    Methylhexaneamine was first as a nasal decongestant, but was taken off the market in the 1970s. It was reintroduced into the dietary supplement industry by Patrick Arnold of BALCO fame in 2006 as Geranamine after ephedrine was banned. Despite numerous warnings from the FDA after five people died from consuming supplements with the drug, the compound continues to be included in projects touting fat loss or energy boosts.

    According to one study, supplements makers often list "geranium oil" or "geranium extract" as a source of the substance, but geraniums do not actually make methylhexanamine.

    You can read more at Cyclingnews.com

  • Tribunal investigating allegations Freeman lied about testosterone delivery

    Former Team Sky and British Cycling doctor Richard Freeman will be facing serious questions when he faces the Medical Practitioners Tribunal next month. The pre-hearing disclosure by the tribunal listed for scrutiny numerous allegations of 'dishonesty' attributed to Dr Freeman.

    Dr Freeman was working for both Team Sky and British Cycling at the National Cycling Centre in 2011 when a box from supplier Fit4Sport containing 30 sachets of Testogel - a topical testosterone drug - arrived.

    The delivery of the banned substance came to light in 2017 after UKAD began its investigation into the programme, and at the time Dr Steve Peters, the former head of medicine at British Cycling, told the Sunday Times that he was told delivery was in error. "I was with a colleague when the order arrived and it was immediately brought to our attention. Dr Freeman, who was responsible for ordering medical supplies, explained that the order had never been placed and so must have been sent in error," Peters told the Sunday Times in 2017.

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    "He contacted the supplier by phone the same day and they confirmed this. I asked Dr Freeman to repack and return it to the supplier, and to make sure they provided written confirmation that it was sent in error and had been received."

    That explanation will come under intense scrutiny starting on February 6, 2019, when the tribunal begins its hearing. It is understood that Dr Freeman denies the allegations.

    The allegations listed for investigation in the pre-hearing disclosure included:

    • That on 18 May 2011, Dr Freeman "made untrue statements", when he denied making the order and advised that it had been made in error.
    • That Dr Freeman contacted Fit4Sport requesting written confirmation that the order had been sent in error and returned "knowing that this had not taken place".
    • That Dr Freeman "showed the email to others knowing that its content was untrue".
    • That during an interview with UKAD on 17 February 2017, Dr Freeman "made untrue statements in that he stated that Testogel had been ordered for a non-athlete member of staff and had been returned to Fit4Sport Limited."
    • That his motive for placing the order "was to obtain Testogel to administer to an athlete to improve their athletic performance".
    • That Dr Freeman's "untrue statements and communications with Fit4Sport Limited, were to conceal his motive for placing the order".

    You can read more at Cyclingnews.com