UCI Men 2012




National Recognition ...
Dateline: 17-Dec-2012
Twelve months on and Bradley Wiggins replicated last year’s award to Mark Cavendish by taking the BBC’s top sports award - Sports Personality of the Year - at a lavish presentation ceremony in London last night. A much better way to end the cycling year than the escalating internal conflicts surrounding the management of the sport. Bradley now joins Sir Chis Hoy and Tom Simpson on the role of honour.

Like last year it was a comfortable victory for cycling. Just look at the top three - 1. Bradley Wiggins 492,064 votes (30.25% of total), 2. Jessica Ennis 372,765 votes (22.92%), 3. Andy Murray 230,444 votes (14.17%). Not the landslide percentage that for voted Mark Cavendish in 2011 - but this time there were two other cyclists among the 12 candidates so that would have certainly split the fans’ loyalty. Just to round off the evening David Brailsford won the Coach of the Year trophy - a repeat of his 2008 award.

Update 30-Dec-2012
It’s now Sir Bradley and Sir David [along with Dame Sarah Storey] as a result of the Queen’s New Year Honours. I wonder if Brad will now get a special No. 1 race number for the 2013 Tour de France?

UCI_IMG_4749Pressure Mounts on the UCI
Dateline: 25-Oct-2012
The UCI covers off-road, track and road racing - not just the Elite Men normally covered on this page. But it is the men’s pro racing section of the sport that has trigged the latest round of dissatisfaction with the sport’s governing body. In the past much of the UCI’s incompetence has been through an arrogant disregard of its members and so limited to “internal” issues - arguments with race organisers, crazy schemes like the “Golden Bike” or dropping blue-ribbon Olympic events like the individual pursuit for no good reason. But the fallout from the USADA Report on doping that centred on Lance Armstrong is a whole lot more serious. Before it was just unhappiness and internal dissent - now it is a widespread call for, at least, the top two UCI men, Verbruggen and McQuaid, to resign.

This not the first time these guys have been in the frame. For example in July 2008, a BBC investigation found documents indicating that over $3 million were paid by Japanese race organizers to the UCI for expenses during Verbruggen's tenure as president ... The investigation cited sources within the UCI who confirmed that the repayments were "explicitly a payback for getting keirin into the Games". Verbruggen denied any wrongdoing and the UCI ignored requests for clarification. Also Verbruggen is quoted, by the USADA, as saying in May 2011: "There is nothing. I repeat again: Lance Armstrong has never used doping. Never, never, never. I say this not because I am a friend of his, because that is not true. I say it because I'm sure." Then in May 2010, Floyd Landis accused Verbruggen of accepting a $100,000 bribe from Lance Armstrong to cover-up a positive dope control in 2001. Verbruggen denied the allegation, but confirmed that Armstrong representatives had offered the UCI money. However Pat McQuaid, Verbruggen's successor as UCI president, later had to confirm that Armstrong had made two donations. And Armstrong and the Tour de France are far from the only examples - there are others that involve the UCI directly; through their own world championships and the handling of issues about Paolo Bettini, Michael Rasmussen, Patrik Sinkewitz, Alexandre Vinokourov, etc, etc. But these are less well researched; not having been subjected to investigations to the detail of the Armstrong case.

The current appetite for clearing-out cycling’s past problems - and a resentment of the UCI leadership that has built up over decades - may just be enough to force Verbruggen and McQuaid to quit. And not just from the UCI but from their roles at the IOC. That’s what is needed; but the chances of it happening are not high. There may, for example, be strong financial reasons for them to tough it out - while approving an amnesty for all involved [that’s what most dictators try to do before they get pushed out]. However if a clear out at the top of the UCI does not happen then we could see some national federations or specific cycling groups either breaking away - or withholding / redirecting their funding.

How long do we have to wait before we can have some real cycle racing again? I think I will switch to the track for the rest of the winter...

Rabobank1Rabobank Pull Out
Dateline: 19-Oct-2012
No doubt you will have already read the story that broke earlier today - and know that 17 years of pro team sponsorship has ended with the withdrawal of the main sponsor of the biggest Dutch team.

But is this just one more step in a long series of consequences that have yet to be played out? When you look at the scale of the problems spelt out in the USADA investigation into Lance Armstrong’s career there can be little doubt there are more problems ahead for pro cycling.

Quite how far this will reach is hard to predict. But it will clearly not stop with just Armstrong. With Johan Bruyneel out of RadioShack-Nissan, Stephen Hodge resigning as Cycling Australia's vice president just after Matt White was sacked as their professional men's road coordinator and a whole series of riders under investigation this story is going to run and run.

In Britain there was no mention of Steve Cummings winning the final stage of the Tour of Beijing but the Lance Armstrong story made big headlines again. If broadcasters and sponsors start to pull out then cycling faces some bleak times ahead. So not the best time to be bidding to host a Tour de France start!

But there is still the UCI’s press conference to look forward to :-( next Monday - which may also resolve the financial issues around the 2014 Worlds at Ponferrada. Also next week ASO are due to confirm the 2013 TdF route - and the start town for 2014 .... if there are any remaining bidders!

Update: 22-Oct-2012
The UCI press conference today accepted the USADA report - but no one resigned. Also the issues around Bruyneel et al and the handling of the vacated race results - such as the TdF’s - were deferred. As regards the 2014 Worlds, the Spanish press claimed last week that the Castilla y León regional council had agreed to provide the financial backing - but I did not spot any confirmation (or even mention) by the UCI. According to cyclingnews.com the regional council “...by October 31 will have paid one million euros and guaranteed the remaining four”. But this timescale is beyond the 30 day deadline given by McQuaid just last month. And there still needs to be a plan for raising the 15 million total that is budgeted to fund the event. Not easy given the financial problems throughout the country.

Women Show The Way
Dateline: 21-Sep-2012
For Team GB it’s the junior women that have led the fields home this week and taken both of the World Road Championship gold medals. But this weekend’s elite mens event seems destined for a string of British DNFs. Wiggins pulled out of the 46 km time trial weeks ago but remained entered in the 260 km road race to provide support. Soon after Froome did the same. And now that Cavendish has confirmed what everyone already knew - that he has no chance on a course with 10 climbs of the Cauberg - the GB team seem to be doomed before the start. It would be nice to think that Jon Tiernan-Locke could follow-up on his Tour of Britain win last week with a medal. But the distance, severity and competition are in a different league.
So this year we could see a re-run of history for Team GB. A likely repeat of the 1966 Championships when the only previous defending champion, Tom Simpson, and his team mates failed to figure in anything but the retirement list. But still .. which British fan could really complain about this wonderful 2012? Thanks Guys

Update - Despite everything the GB team did another great job and worked for new boy “JTL” right to the bitter end.

WorldRoad2014The reign of Spain ...
... goes mainly down the drain?
Dateline: 20-Sep-2012
It’s back again. Now almost three years have passed since I first questioned the UCI’s choice of a modest town in northern Spain -
Ponferrada - to host their biggest annual event; the World Road Championships. Mainly because the little-known location seemed to lack some of the basics facilities needed; for example, hotel capacity. But no one else seemed to complain and the UCI were happy; so the project rolled on.

Yesterday the UCI announced “Concerning the UCI Road World Championships 2014, the Management Committee decided to grant the organizers of the Ponferrada (ESP) event 30 days to  meet contractual commitments, after which time if these had not been met the event would be withdrawn from them”. However the announcement does not give any fallback location. And this time last year the UCI announced it “... has decided to propose only the candidature of Ponferrada ... for the awarding of the 2014 edition of the World Championships”. So it looks like the UCI have left themselves few options other than to scramble around Europe for candidates; if the organisers cannot raise the funds.

Sadly this is not the only issue for Spanish cycling. In February 2012 the UCI had to consider supporting the three Spanish World Tour races - Catalunya, Pais Vasco and San Sebastian - to keep them in the calendar. And in 2011 the European Elite Track Championship were briefly assigned to Palma Velodrome before it was found that the 2007 track already needed to be rebuilt. More recently Barcelona withdrew its bid to host the Tour de France start - so leaving the way open for Yorkshire in 2014. Which leads me back to my 2009 suggestion of smaller country towns such as Skipton or Peebles making a bid for the Worlds. And so Welcome to Yorkshire may yet have the chance to host both the Tour de France and the World Championships in the same year.

ps Even though Florence (Firenze) has also withdrawn its Tour de France bid it is, we are told, going ahead with unchanged plans for the 2013 World Road Race Championships - official website

Out of Ammo?
Dateline: 13-Sep-2012
After a year of making headlines could it be that the stars of GB cycling have now used up their supply of pent-up ambition? Over the past 12 months Brits have created almost euphoric state for the fans of British cycling - one that even the mainstream media has picked up. The world road championships, the Tour de France and the Olympics - have put British cycling in running for the annual sports personality contests again; despite the many other worthy contenders. True Andy Murray’s first tennis Grand Slam victory may now stop Wiggo making the top spot but it will be close.


However this month things are looking a little jaded as the fatigue builds-up and the motivation starts to slide. A feeling of having achieved a life’s ambition - so where now - hangs in the air. And the fans now expect much more. Even Froome’s fourth place in the Vuelta was seen as disappointing - though he was the best non-Spaniard. Today the Tour of Britain has an Australian in the lead. Confusing for the casual spectator - having just been told that Wiggins and Cavendish are the best in the world. The results in this year’s world road championships are likely to be below what a new recruit to cycling might have expected. And even the track performances this winter may well reflect a post-Olympic dip.

But it is not all doom and gloom. The frustration of many fans that the national tour has had no British winners in its current format [adopted in 2004] is also an opportunity. With Chris Lillywhite being the last British victor of a home tour [in the 1993 Milk Race] there is the chance for a new rider to make the headlines. And in the 2012 Tour there is, of course, still time for that to happen. It would be great if, say, Jon Tiernan-Locke could round off his great season with a home tour win. Go for it Jon!

Brits Grab Headlines - Part 5
Dateline: 10-Aug-2012
This is becoming a often-repeated theme this year - one that started back in February! Apart from the obvious first-ever British win in the Tour de France and the successes on road and track at the London Olympics, there have been others. One worth highlighting was that man Jon Tiernan-Locke, of Endura Racing, winning another Euro stage race. This time it was two stages and overall victory at the Tour Alsace. Some years just turn out much better than others!
Looking ahead it will be Chris Froome’s chance to take the lead in a grand tour when Sky tackle the Tour of Spain in just over a week’s time. With two second place finishes can he take the big step up - despite the long, tiring season he has had so far?
After that there is the Tour of Britain - hopefully capitalising on the summer of sporting success; before the media switches back to the more normal round of bad news stories.

Dateline: 10-Jul-2012
I’ve not forgotten that the Tour de France is still running - just that my comments are going out via the
Tour-Racing web site instead

Brits Grab Headlines - Part 4
Dateline: 10-Jun-2012
There have been many years when British riders have not won a single UCI-ranked stage race - but this year is different. Team Sky’s Bradley Wiggins has now added his second, successive Critérium du Dauphiné to the year’s total. The build-up to the big one continues ....

Brits Grab Headlines - Part 3
Dateline: 29-Apr-2012
The spring classics were a complete blank for the British riders’ supporters - with at least one classic having no British starters! And the sight of the Sky team car breaking down mid-race did not give the best impression of the sole British team’s support services.
But the mood changed in the Tour de Romandie as first Thomas and then Wiggins took a stage and the overall lead. Wiggins did loose his lead to Sanchez but the final mountain time trial stage set-up a finish just like Paris-Nice. And Bradley did it again - winning the final stage and taking 1m23 out of Sanchez - despite un-shipping his chain and having to dismount. It is a close run stage victory - but he had more than enough overall. So he becomes the first British victor at the Romandie; joining a role of honour that includes - Gino Bartali, Ferdi Kubler, Eddy Merckx, Bernard Hinault, Stephen Roche, Laurent Jalabert, and last year, Cadel Evans. Great preparation of the Tour.

Tour de France - British Start?
Dateline: 1-Apr-2012
As reported back in May 2011, “Welcome to Yorkshire” is bidding for the Grand Depart of the Tour de France.

GentWevelgem2012Boonen Back To His Best
Dateline: 25-Mar-2012
It was probably in 2010 when it looked most likely Tom could go into a career decline. He had, of course, reached the heights of a world championship at age 25 - in 2005. But by 2010 he could not quite reach his own high standards - with second places in Milan-San Remo, E3 and Tour of Flanders. In 2011 he won Gent-Wevelgem but then not much else. Others were making the headlines.

But 2012 has seen a big change; with a new determination - and the old speed in the final sprints. It’s still only March but already Tom has won the Tour of Qatar, E3 Harelbeke (on Friday) and Gent-Wevelgem (today); a classic that he first won in 2004. Since his E3 win was the 5th in that race (so beating Rik Van Looy’s record of four wins) and today was his 3rd Gent-Wevelgem it looks like Tom is returning to the level that his early years predicted. The “new” sprinters are going to have their hands full in 2012. And with three previous wins in Paris-Roubaix the odds of Tom making it four wins at the Velodrome in two weeks time must have shortened considerably.

Update 1-Apr-2012 Boonen wins his 3rd Tour of Flanders today. I told you he was going well ...
Update 8-Apr-2012 Boonen wins his 4th Paris-Roubaix today. I didn’t think he was going that well ... sadly I did not bet on my own advice!

The Classics Move Up a Gear
Dateline: 16-Mar-2012
When it’s time for Milan-San Remo then it’s time for a succession of classic one day road races at lie at the heart of the European calendar. And this year looks like being a great year.
According to the bookies tomorrow’s Milan-San Remo is going to be between Cavendish, Sagan, Cancellara, Boonen, Freire, Boasson-Hagen,  Gilbert, Goss and Greiepel - in that order. So a sprint finished is expected despite the 298km route. And that has been how things have panned out most years. But clearly there are those that expect Peter Sagan to break away and spoil the sprinters end-game. The TV remote is at the ready ...

Brits Grab Headlines - Part 2
Dateline: 11-Mar-2012

2012 Paris-Nice Leader Board

1     Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Sky Procycling
2     Lieuwe Westra (Ned) Vacansoleil-DCM at 6 sec
3     Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar Team at 18 sec
4     Simon Spilak (Slo) Katusha Team at 37 sec
5     Tejay Van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing Team at 39 sec
6     Maxime Monfort (Bel) RadioShack-Nissan at 46 sec


Tom Simpson, Jacques Anquetil, Rudi Altig and Eddy Merckx relax on the grass in 1967

Only today’s mountain time trial stands in the way of Bradley Wiggins taking the yellow jersey in Paris-Nice. And looking at this morning’s standings he has a good chance. One view is that it’s a short time trial - a Wiggins speciality - so no problem. The other view being that Valverde could be considered a specialist climber - having already won this year’s Tour Down Under Willunga Hill stage and the 2012 Vuelta a Andalucia. With the margins being slim it could go either way.

However the fact that Wiggins has lead the race since stage 2 - and was only 1 sec off in stage 1 - looks good. And with half the Sky team at Tirreno-Adriatico - where Cavendish won again - it does provide some excellent preparation later in the season. If Wiggins can take the final GC prize then another one of Tom Simpson’s records has been equalled. Tom won Paris-Nice in 1967 - with a young Eddy Merckx as his Peugeot team mate. But back then it was a white - not yellow - jersey.

Update 13:50:
Bradley wins the stage by just 2 seconds from Lieuwe Westra - and so takes the overall GC by 8 seconds ... and another chapter in cycling history gets updated.

Spain’s Financial Problems Bite
Dateline: 29-Feb-2012
Today’s press release - “The International Cycling Union (UCI) is closely following the evolution of the situation concerning the three Spanish events in the UCI WorldTour - Volta Ciclista a Catalunya, Volta Ciclista al Pais Vasco and Clasica Ciclista San Sebastian – which are currently facing economic related difficulties that could threaten the continued organisation of these benchmark races for professional cycling.
Conscious of the fundamental importance of saving cycling’s heritage, as well as the International Federation’s vital role in helping all involved in the sport, the UCI immediately took action in order to evaluate these cases and study possible measures that could be taken...”
In other words the UCI may have to bail-out the organisers if they want to keep these races alive. I feel that the world’s economy - and with it sponsored professional sport - is shifting east at an increasing speed.

Brits Grab Headlines
Dateline: 13-Feb-2012
Now for some better news - British riders are winning!
And just to show it’s not just the big budget teams it was Jon Tiernan-Locke of Endura Racing who won the 1st stage of the Tour of the Med beating the sprinters - and who then followed it with a 17 sec. solo mountain win to take the final stage and overall victory. He now joins Eddy Merckx, Phil Anderson, Tony Rominger, Gianni Bugno and Paolo Bettini - amongst many others - on the victors list. Fantastic!

At the Tour of Qatar it was Mark Cavendish who was winning stages 3 and 5 - putting two more victories in the bag. And Andy Fenn of Omega Pharma-Quick Step won the first of the Challenge races in Mallorca - then just to prove the point he won the second one as well.

Three riders - six wins - and it’s still only February!

Update: 29-Feb-2012
Make that four riders - ten wins - as Bradley Wiggins wins the time trial stage on the Algarve and Mark Cavendish became the first British winner of Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne; despite being sick during the race. Meantime Jon Tiernan-Locke wins again - with a stage and the overall at the Tour du Haut Var
more.. At this rate the British road results might even get on a par with the Australians!

Justice or Not? - Part 2
Dateline: 09-Feb-2012
I had to read this message twice just to check that it was not a long-lost e-mail suddenly reappearing. But it’s true - “1997 Tour de France winner Jan Ullrich has been banned for two years by the Court of Arbitration for Sport and his results from May 2005 annulled.” (from AIPS). Not that there was much chance of Jan ever competing at the top level again. Why not make a bad week just that bit worse?

Justice or Not?
Dateline: 13:12 06-Feb-2012
Alberto Contador has been banned by CAS for two years after the court upheld appeals by the World cycling governing body and World Anti Doping Agency over failed doping tests following his acquittal by a Spanish cycling tribunal. He has also been stripped off the 2010 Tour de France title after the sports highest court rejected his claim that the positive test for clenbuterol was as a result of eating contaminated meat.(from AIPS)

More, I am sure, at all your favourite cycling web sites - and in the wider media (eg the BBC); especially as it is bad news!

Update 15:35 06-Feb-2012; this ruling nullifies all results since the 2010 TdF - so his 2011 Giro victory goes as well. This means Alberto’s six Grand Tour wins are now reduced to four - and that he will not be able to ride this year’s Giro or Tour. Another sad day for pro cycling - with the riders, their managers and the sport’s administrators loosing again.

Besseges2012South of France Season Openers
Dateline: 21-Jan-2012
The start of the European road season gets ever nearer and the pro teams are working to get their squads back into the racing routine. How many master plans will fail to materialise this time around?
Certainly some of the plans have worked already - with GreenEdge getting a TDU ochre jersey (just), Greipel winning sprints and Valverde showing that he can still climb.
These early season races will be interesting - but the big objectives are still months away ...

And there the lack of resolution of the Contador case (again) must surely be building-up a cumulative negative effect on Alberto’s motivation. He will need a mind of steel to tackle another grand tour, in May or July, and win for a 7th time; irrespective of the final outcome of the case.

ps I have kept the link to BBC Sport’s Cycling section despite the lack of any news of interest. The fact that Mark Cavendish won the last BBC Sports Personality vote by a landslide seems to have been ignored by the Beeb planners and editors. Instead it is only ITV that is airing the content and has the contracts for more coverage later - on the UK terrestrial channels that is.
Do the BBC provide any cycling news outside of the UK I wonder? I know that most of the cycling events - and star athletes - are in mainland Europe; but that does not stop, say, skiing getting plenty of UK airtime and a chunk of the BBC’s “scarce resources”.

British World Tour Riders
Dateline: 4-Jan-2012
Today’s announcement by Team Sky lists three more British riders; making ten in total - Mark Cavendish, Alex Dowsett, Chris Froome, Jeremy Hunt, Peter Kennaugh, Luke Rowe, Ian Stannard, Ben Swift, Geraint Thomas and Bradley Wiggins - in a 28-man squad. [The UCI still only list 18 in the squad]

Update: 14-Jan-2012
The newly renamed Garmin-Barracuda squad now only lists one British rider - David Millar - rather than the hoped for three. Since there are no British Pro-Continental teams in 2012 I checked the six Continental teams - but no entries for Hammond or Lloyd were spotted. Where now?

Update: 06-Feb-2012
Despite earlier rumours Roger Hammond does NOT appear in the latest update to the team roster at the
Accent Jobs Willems Verandas team web site.

GreenEdge20122012 UCI Top Teams
Dateline: 1-Jan-2012
The new Australian GreenEdge team kicks off in the top division with 17 Australian riders in a squad of 30. But at least their first big event will be on home soil in Adelaide. That should give them a good start - possibly even providing a winner’s jersey to launch their trophy cabinet. Certainly Cameron Meyer will be looking to repeat his 2011 success when he took the ochre jersey for Garmin.
Most British interest is, of course, with Team Sky but Adam Blythe & Steve Cummings at BMC and Andy Fenn at Omega-Pharma-Quickstep do spread the interest a little wider. But this still only gives a total of 10 GB riders confirmed by the UCI - since the Garmin-Cervelo squad is yet to be published. Their team list should add David Millar, Daniel Lloyd and Roger Hammond to the total. But Jeremy Hunt and Russell Downing are out of the top flight rosters - along with world number 15 Chris Froome; who is missing from Team Sky - according to the UCI web site that is [surely some mistake!]

2012 UCI World Tour Road Races
Dateline: 1-Jan-2012
Here is a quick summary of the headline races for 2012 - this one being taken from what the UCI “WorldTour” list. The only addition to the 2011 list being the “E3” - but the Giro di Lombardia moves to the end of September. The World Championships are in the Netherlands this year (16-09 to 23-09) and the London Olympic road events are 28-07 to 01-08. The European season opens with the Grand Prix Cycliste la Marseillaise in just four weeks time.

17.01.2012 22.01.2012 Tour Down Under
04.03.2012 11.03.2012 Paris - Nice
07.03.2012 13.03.2012 Tirreno-Adriatico
17.03.2012  Milano-Sanremo
19.03.2012 25.03.2012 Volta Ciclista a Catalunya
23.03.2012 E3 Prijs Vlaanderen - Harelbeke
25.03.2012 Gent - Wevelgem
01.04.2012 Ronde van Vlaanderen / Tour des Flandres
02.04.2012 09.04.2012 Vuelta Ciclista al Pais Vasco
08.04.2012 Paris - Roubaix
15.04.2012 Amstel Gold Race
18.04.2012 La Flèche Wallonne
22.04.2012 Liège - Bastogne - Liège
24.04.2012 29.04.2012 Tour de Romandie
05.05.2012 27.05.2012 Giro d'Italia
03.06.2012 10.06.2012 Critérium du Dauphiné Libéré
09.06.2012 17.06.2012 Tour de Suisse
30.06.2012 22.07.2012 Tour de France
10.07.2012 16.07.2012 Tour de Pologne
06.08.2012 12.08.2012 Eneco Tour
14.08.2012 Clasica Ciclista San Sebastian
18.08.2012 09.09.2012 Vuelta a España
19.08.2012 Vattenfall Cyclassics
26.08.2012 GP Ouest France - Plouay
07.09.2012 Grand Prix Cycliste de Québec
09.09.2012 Grand Prix Cycliste de Montréal
29.09.2012 Il Lombardia
10.10.2012 14.10.2012 Tour of Beijing

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