Team Vacansoleil-DCM announced that Juan Antonio Flecha will retire with the Tour of Beijing this week. The Spaniard closes out 14 years as a professional, including a Tour de France stage win and three podium spots in Paris-Roubaix.
“In my last season at Vacansoleil-DCM I raced the way I wanted in the races I like the most. Although I didn’t get a big victory I believe it was one of my best seasons, very consistent and solid,” the 36-year-old said in a press release. “Retiring now gives me a chance to look back on cycling with good memories.”
With the departure of Vacansoleil and Euskaltel, many riders are finding it hard to find teams. Some, like Flecha are retiring instead of accepting lower offer in a smaller team. Spain’s Egoi Martínez (Euskaltel), Benjamin Noval (Saxo-Tinkoff) also called it quits
Flecha is one of Spain’s most celebrated classics riders. He said that after Beijing, he will go on holiday and reflect on his career. “I love the sport and say goodbye with a big smile,” he added. “Cycling will for sure stay a part of my future life.”
Horner vents frustration in Twitter
Chris Horner (RadioShack-Leopard) let loose on Twitter yesterday over doubts about his credibility. He became the oldest winner of a Grand Tour, winning the Vuelta a España at 41 last month, but came under fire from critics. As a result, he posted his anti-doping biological passport data and wrote 24 tweets in 2.5 hours.
15 years old and up @ 4:30am before school starts to train while dreaming of winning a grand tour. I did that!
— Chris Horner (@hornerakg) October 8, 2013
- 15 years old and up @ 4:30am before school starts to train while dreaming of winning a grand tour. I did that!
- Riding your bike to work so that you can train for hours in the dark after works done. I did that!
- Hitching a ride across the country for months w/no money (almost I had 400+-) to race. I did that!
- Sleeping in hotels,host family houses,cars,and park benches to get to the races. I did that!
- Pro teams won’t give you chance, so you buy your own license and race as an independent. I did that!
- Race pro for years w/out pay just hoping to make enough winnings to pay rent. I did that!
- Win everything in the US, pass on the big paycheck, go to Europe for minimum pay. #ididthat!
- Live in Europe in a small apartment W/no car, computer, phone, TV, only a walk for company. #ididthat!
- Oops. Only a Walkman for company. #ididthat!
- Take a step back hoping to go forward again. #ididthat!
- Winning again but told I’m too old to go back to Europe a second time but keep fighting anyways. #ididthat!
- Sell everything I own for a second chance at a grand tour, fly over with a 140bucks in my pocket. #ididthat!
- Start going up the ladder with each year passing while never getting that leader respect and belief. #ididthat!
- Up @6am w/3kids so I can drop them off @school before I go train all day for the Grand tours. #ididthat!
- Finding that belief, given the leadership, delivering on it. #ididthat!
- Moving up the ladder w/that continued belief, big sponsors on board now. #ididthat!
- Whole season disappearing fast but still working hard to make it to those grand tours. #ididthat!
- Amazing help and belief from all my family, friends, and fans to get back there. #ididthat!
- Works paid off, forms back, but by now some have lost belief. #ididthat!
- So much stress & work 4another start at a dream that began many years ago. #ididthat!
- A life time of work and a stage/jersey arrive and disappear over night.#ididthat!
- 100% is given and second time it happens, only to pass just as fast but belief is returning. #ididthat!
- The jersey returned only this time for life, the stories to tell before & during it are epic & lifetime. #ididthat
- Yes it was worth it and yes the dream continues… With or without the belief. #ididthat!
And you can see the #ididthat wise-cracks that followed from the twittersphere:
Giro d’Italia climbs less
The 2014 Giro d’Italia will climb 5000 metres less than this year’s editions. It is part of what the organisers call a more humane edition.
Andrea Monti, director of La Gazzetta dello Sport newspaper that started the race, said, “We don’t want a superman to win when the race finishes in Trieste.”
Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) won the race this year ahead of Rigoberto Urán (Sky) and Cadel Evans (BMC Racing). Snow and bad weather marked this edition.
“On paper, it seems a little more humane but we all know it’s not that way,” Nibali explained. “Maybe it’ll be cold like this year and that’ll make everything harder, and not so humane.”
Rodriguez wins WorldTour title for third year
Joaquím Rodríguez (Katusha) won the WorldTour rankings for 2013 for a third year thanks to his Il Lombardia win on Sunday. He moved into the lead, which he keeps since he and runner-up Chris Froome (Sky) are skipping the last WorldTour event, the Tour of Beijing.
Tinkov takes money to Cannondale?
Russian businessman, Oleg Tinkov is reporting taking his money to team Cannondale after leaving Saxo Bank. The deal could see Cannondale become Cannondale-Tinkov and a wave of money to further support Peter Sagan.
Tinkov entered the sport with Tinkoff Credit Systems, pulled out when Katusha was formed and returned with Saxo Bank last year. He reportedly was unhappy with the way Alberto Contador raced at the Tour de France this year.
The problem at team Cannondale, as with Bjarne Riis in Saxo Bank, is that General Manager Roberto Amadio wants to run the show. If it linked with Tinkov, the bright-green Italian team might not be able to work with an opinionated Russian.
UCI outlines reform of WorldTour
We’ve seen the World Cup, the ProTour and the World Tour. Yesterday the UCI announced their vision for future of the World Tour which will start gradually from 2015 and be completed by 2020.
Instead of the current WorldTour team format, the UCI is proposing a system with the WorldTour split over two divisions that will still sit above the third division comprised of Pro-Continental and Continental teams.
• 120 days of racing for 16 Division 1 teams (reduced from 154 days of racing for 19 WorldTour teams)
• 50 days of racing for 8 Division 2
• Division 3 to feature the Europe Tour, America Tour, Asia Tour, Africa Tour and Oceania Tour.
• All results across three divisions to be compiled into a single ranking system to serve as the basis for the nations’ ranking.
There are also proposed reforms to the calendar including:
• The season to be run from February to October.
• Competition on every weekend, especially Sundays.
• No overlapping of events and races cut to five or six days (no, not the Grand Tours, but races such as the Dauphine which overlap with the Tour de Suisse).
• No competition amongst first and second division events.
• Six weeks of uninterrupted competition focused on the spring classics.
Miss Ciclismo finals
As the season closes, Italy’s tradition of voting on Miss Ciclismo continues. On Sunday, the jury narrowed the selection down to seven finalists. The winner will be decided on October 26.
Alessia Franchi won last year and worked in cycling through the year, interviewing at Milano-Sanremo and hosting at the Giro d’Italia.
The Armstrong Lie Trailer
Stay tuned. CyclingTips will be premiering this film in Australia soon…
The Rocacorba Recap
And finally this morning, here are a few articles you might have missed:
- Visions of the future – wearable devices in cycling
- Made in Italy: a tour of the Sarto bike factory
- Rocacorba Daily: Tuesday October 8