Cam Karwowski takes yellow jersey in the Tour of Southland

A second place finish in Stage 1 of the SBS Bank Tour of Southland has been enough to propel Southland cyclist Cam Karwowski into the tour’s yellow jersey.

PowerNet’s Roman van Uden took out stage honours; finishing the 167km stage from Invercargill to Gore just two seconds ahead of Karwowski, and Pure South’s Thery Schir who led the bunch over the line. But it is Karwowski, riding for H&Js Outdoor World Avanti Plus – with a 1 second lead in the general classification – that has gone into yellow.

“I didn’t really even consider the possibility of yellow after this stage,” he said.
“It was a bit disappointing not to get first (in the stage), but to come away with yellow is a great achievement.”

Just one second splits three riders at the top of the general classification, with Karwowski in yellow and van Uden and Daniel Barry (Kiwi Velo-Armstrong Prestige) both just one second back, with the infamous Bluff Hill stage tomorrow.

“I don’t rate my chances up Bluff Hill to be fair, even though I got fourth last year,” Karwowski said. “But having a day in yellow is a good thing for a team and we’ll show up with pride, go into tomorrow and do our best.”

Click here to see the results after stage 1 of the Tour of Southland. Text via Tour of Southland press release.

European cyclocross round-up

The weekend just gone was packed full of cyclocross racing in Belgium with a round of the bPost trofee at Oudenaarde on Friday, a round of the Superprestige at Zonhoven on Sunday for men and the European Championships for elite women over in the Czech Republic.

Superprestige Zonhoven 2013 race winner: Sven Nys (BEL)

Helen Wyman showed excellent form, winning her third Koppenberg Cobble trophy, and retaining her European championship, while fellow Brit, Nikki Harris was on the podium of both races as well.

Koppenberg Cross takes in a course that goes up one of road cycling’s most famous climbs, the Koppenberg, and then descends the field beside it. It is steep, usually muddy and is considered to be an especially tough race.

Unlike many races, this one stayed together, with a select group of eight staying together until the last lap. With all the big names present, it was young Belgian, Tom Meeusen who broke through for his first win at this level. The Telenet-Fidea rider turns 25 on Thursday and his ‘most beautiful’ win could not have been a better birthday present. Teammates Pauwels and Vantornout made up the podium.

Zonhoven is my favourite course of the whole season. Set in a sand quarry, it is technical and suits power riding and good running in the steep sand, while attracting massive crowds. Last year saw a cracking battle between Sven Nys and Niels Albert, and this year was no different.

Lars van der Haar and Klaus Vantornout got away to a rapid start, while Nys was his usual self, slipping back to as far as 10th before turning up the wick. The first descent into the quarry was carnage, with no shortage of riders going OTB in the sand.

At the start of the final lap the four riders were together with Albert making what looked to be a decisive gap early in the lap. Nys however was able to close the gap and rest before taking the lead in the final corners and winning a fantastic, tactical race.

Text by Greg Murison, BrewCX.

Rasmussen doping accusations prompt responses from Orica-GreenEDGE and others

Accusations made yesterday by Michael Rasmussen about the 2007 Rabobank Tour de France team have prompted responses from those implicated by the Dane.

Tour de France  2012 stage - 17

In an interview with Danish broadcaster DR Rasmussen said the entire Rabobank team had doped for that race.

“Within the Rabobank team: one hundred percent,” he stated. “Not everyone took the same products, but all riders were on some form of doping provided by the team.”

The riders on that year’s Tour team were Rasmussen, Oscar Freire, Pieter Weening, Dennis Menchov, Thomas Dekker, Juan Antonio Flecha, Michael Boogerd, Grischa Niermann and Bram de Groot.

Freire has angrily denied the accusation and threatened legal action.

“He said that he has never mentioned my name. I don’t understand. He can speak for himself or for those who he has seen take substances, but not the whole team. I won’t allow that.

Rasmussen has since backed down on the claim that the entire team doped.

“There was organised doping, but it did not include all the riders,” he told EFE. “Not once in my life did I see Oscar Freire doping. Flecha as well, he also didn’t know anything.”

Meanwhile Orica-GreenEDGE has issued a statement about Pieter Weening:

We have been made aware of certain allegations put forward regarding Pieter Weening.

We have asked Pieter to fully re-confirm his legally binding written statement to the team regarding his career and these issues before and after joining the team, specifically with regards to the current allegations.

The team is also aware that Pieter has made himself fully available to any formal inquiry by the Dutch Federation and will follow up when these have been concluded, should there be a relevant reason to.

Orica-GreenEDGE had previously required all riders to sign a declaration during the Vance Inquiry, saying they hadn’t doped in the past.

Click here to read more at VeloNation. Click here to read about Michael Rasmussen’s accusation that everyone on the 2007 Rabobank Tour de France team had doped.

Rasmussen retracts doping allegations

Yesterday Michael Rasmussen claimed that each of his Rabobank teammates during the 2007 Tour de France had used some form of doping products.

Rasmussen said, “Within the Rabobank team: one hundred percent,” he stated. “Not everyone took the same products, but all riders were on some form of doping provided by the team.”

Now former teammate and triple world champion Oscar Freire has threatened legal action which has caused Rasmussen to retract his statements:

“There was organized doping, but it did not include all the riders,” Rasmussen told EFE.com. “Not once in my life did I see Oscar Freire doping. Flecha as well, he also didn’t know anything.”

The retraction came after Freire had denied his involvement in doping at Rabobank. “I have demanded an apology, and to do so publicly,” Freire told Spanish newspaper, AS.com. “But I also have to blame the media a bit. No one called me for a comment; instead my name has been all over the headlines. I did not like that because I think I behaved very well with all the press, and I have never had any problems of doping.”

Freire said that his name had been tarnished by Rasmussen’s claims, “in many ways, the damage from Rasmussen is done.”

Successful minor surgery for Marianne Vos

Reigning woad and cyclocross world champion Marianne Vos has succesfully undergone surgery to remove a small cyst from her lower back.

“The cyst was removed through keyhole surgery, so there is a small wound,” Vos said. “The recovery is going very well and the wound is especially less painful than I had expected it to be. I’m glad I’ve have it done. The after effects are not too bad.”

After a short rest period Vos will head to South Africa for a training camp with the Dutch national team, before returning to race the Cyclocross World cup in Heusden-Zolder, Belgium, the day after Christmas.

Click here to read more at VeloNation.

New UCI regulation bans kerb-hopping in road races

A new law to be introduced on January 1 next year by the UCI will prohibit riders in road races from riding on footpaths, bike tracks or anywhere else besides the road. Specifically, the new rule reads:

1.2.064 bis It is strictly prohibited to use sidewalks/pavements, paths or cycle paths alongside the roadway that do not form part of the course. Non-respect of this requirement is sanctioned in accordance with Article 12.1.040.14 bis, without prejudice to any other sanctions that may apply.

The Inner Ring has provided a typically excellent analysis of the new rule and whether it is enforceable and we recommend you check it out here.

And here’s a video, also shared by The Inner Ring, showing one of the reasons the new rule has come in: for added safety.

Former UCI President Verbruggen: ‘My conscience is clean’

Former UCI president Hein Verbruggen has written an open letter in which he addresses questions of his integrity, his relationship with Lance Armstrong, the fight against doping and the UCI’s financial situation.

Published on tuttobiciweb.it the letter begins with Verbruggen listing some of his accomplishments while at the head of the UCI. Speaking of his integrity, Verbruggen wrote:

“I have never acted inappropriately and that my conscience is absolutely clean. With the benefit of hindsight, however, I admit that I could have done some things differently, but I do not accept that my integrity is in doubt, with what has happened in recent months.”

“I have never acted inappropriately and I have a clear conscience. No facts, no evidence contradict this truth,” said Verbruggen. “I refuse to engage in a silly debate and stoop to the level of those who criticise me and believe that I have to prove my innocence: in fact they are the ones who can not prove that I have done something wrong.”

“I am exasperated and tired of this endless chain of journalists who delight to fuel conspiracy theories, disguising themselves as ‘investigative journalists’ to sell their latest book or inflate their egos or their careers.”

Click here to read Verbruggen’s open letter (in Italian). Click here to read more at Cycling News.

USA Pro Challenge 2014 course revealed, with crowd-sourced final stage

The 2014 route for the USA Pro Challenge has been revealed and for the first time in the race’s short history, it will feature a mountaintop finish.

USA Pro Challenge Stage 2

Stage 3 will finish atop Monarch Mountain, with an altitude of roughly 3,600m, in a stage that could decide the race overall.

The race’s fourth edition will run from August 18 to 24 and will feature six road stages and a time trial.

Interestingly, the course for the final stage has not yet been finalised, with race organisers providing four options and leaving the decision to a vote by fans. The options include a Denver circuit race like the one used in this year’s race, a start in Golden with a finish in Denver, a start in Boulder and finish in Denver or a start in Boulder and finish in Golden.

You can have your say by voting at the USA Pro Challenge website.

Click here to read more at VeloNews and to see an interactive map of the route.

Truth and reconciliation would stop the bleeding for pro cycling

Matthew Beaudin has written a piece at VeloNews about the constant drip-feed of doping admissions and how they periodically damage the sport and will continue to do so.

Beaudin’s argument is that it’s well and truly time for a truth and reconciliation period so that we can finally move on.

The piece is worth a read but it’s worth remembering that there are those that argue a truth and reconciliation scheme wouldn’t work as there’s currently no incentive for riders to come forward.

Click here to read Matthew Beaudin’s article at VeloNews.

Frenchman to make new hour record attempt at 102 years of age

Most people are lucky to remain mobile into their 70s and 80s but Frenchman Robert Marchand is taking things to the next level.

Marchand currently holds the record for the fastest 100km and the hour record for a rider over 100 years old. And now, at nearly 102 years old Marchand is planning to extend his hour record mark.

INSERM [Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médicale, or National Institute of Health and Medical Research – ed.] professor Véronique Billat announced Marchand’s attempt over the weekend.

“We prepare Robert Marchand for the world record of an hour above 25 km/h in January he will be 102 yrs old,” she wrote on Twitter. “He improved his VO2max (35) and his maximal power by 10% by the strength component, especially 2.65 w/kg of full body mass with 13% fat mass.”

Click here to read more about this remarkable man and his record attempt over at VeloNation.

Erika Salumae sells Olympic track cycling gold medals

Estonian sporting heroine Erika Salumae sold her two Olympic gold medals for £50,000 (59,000 euros, $80,000) in London on Monday, auctioneer Graham Budd told AFP.

386px-Erika_Salumäe.IMGP6301

Salumae won a gold in track cycling at the 1988 Seoul Olympics when representing the USSR and when she repeated her success four years later in Barcelona it meant she’d won Estonia’s first Games gold medal since the Baltic state gained independence from Soviet-bloc control in 1991.

The two medals sold for £25,000 each with the total value of the sale of various items from Salumae’s career, including five world championship medals, £80,000.

That included £8,000 for her winning bike in Barcelona.

“The two gold medals sold for more than double our estimate of £9,000-£12,000 each,” Budd said, adding “the bike was a most unusual item to have in the sale”.

Budd, one of Britain’s leading auctioneers of sports-related items, said he was not at liberty to name the buyers of the two gold medals.

Twice a world champion, Salumae, 51 and who now lives in Denia, southern Spain, is recovering from back surgery and Estonian media reported she had organised the sale to help pay for her medical costs.

Text via AFP.

Mad Fiber shuts down

Wheel manufacturer Mad Fiber has shut down its factory in Seattle and might be headed for bankruptcy, according to some sources.

Mad Fiber co-founder Ric Hjertberg left the company in August and wrote recently “I’m told what is left will go to bankruptcy shortly.”

We reviewed a set of Mad Fiber clinchers last year and rated them an 8.5/10. Check out our review here.

Click here to read more about the Mad Fiber shutdown over at Bicycle Retailer.

Orica-GreenEDGE announces partnership with Craft

Over the next three years Orica-GreenEDGE and Orica-AIS riders will wear Craft clothing while training, racing and while off the bike.

“We have been looking for a team that shares our goals and ambitions and that is made up of people who we can win, lose, laugh and cry with. Down Under we found a perfect match in ORICA-GreenEDGE, a team that combines strong personalities with a strong team spirit,” said Craft’s CEO Jonas Peterson.

Orica-GreenEDGE General Manager shared the Peterson’s enthusiasm.

“We’re really happy to partner up with Craft for our race and casual clothing next year. We share their excitement and attitude around cycling – both as a really demanding professional sport and as a healthy lifestyle. It will be a great way to explore great new products and gain a competitive edge. I’m convinced all of our riders will be happy with this collaboration.”

Text adapted from an Orica-GreenEDGE press release.

How Chris Froome flew up Mont Ventoux

It all makes sense now.

St. Kilda crits video

The following video by Tom Reynolds isn’t your usual criterium video, focusing more on the spectacle of the event and some artistic time-lapse shots that on the ins and outs of how the race was run and won. Well worth a look.

The Rocacorba Recap

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


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