Richie Porte wants to ride the Tour de France and Olympics. “I didn’t leave Team Sky for BMC just to target the Giro d’Italia” he tells cyclingnews.com. This has always been the plan and it seems the idea is to keep Tejay van Garderen on his toes, to provide internal competition for him as well as one of the most well-funded teams in the sport simply being able to buy a strong leader like this. Rohan Dennis has to fit into this too.
Porte became an internet buzz for his Giro wheel change and motorhome but the real story should have been his overall wins in the Volta ao Algarve, Paris-Nice, Catalonia and Trentino, an invincible streak from February to April which made him the world’s No.1 ranked rider for the first third of the season. These intra-team rivalries are always interesting in part because they’re exercises in linguistic gymnastics, riders try to stake their claims while also hoping to come across as harmonious. Expect a van Garderen
rebuttal interview with Velonews in the coming days.
Dimension Data could well be in the World Tour for 2016. They were on the list of Pro Conti teams but have since secured more sponsorship and in an interview with cyclingtips the team owner Doug Ryder says they can move up. Oddly he’s waiting for a phone call from the UCI, saying “They [the UCI] will probably give us a call” rather than asking for the upgrade but it makes sense for everyone especially as here’s a team with some huge corporate names that don’t like to play in the second division. Di Data have green and black corporate branding so will it mark the end of the black and white kit?
Marcel Kittel has moved to Etixx-Quickstep. A clever transfer by Patrick Lefevere who’s surely got the Germany sprinter for a good price. People have asked about his sprint train and this looks to be the weak point but Etixx-Quickstep as a whole won’t mind, he is not the team’s central rider so if he picks off a few wins in the year helped by a smaller train, whether the Scheldeprijs or a Tour de France stage, then it’ll all work out fine for everyone. The transfer also helps Giant-Alpecin who’d been worried about being able to meet the bill for win bonuses in the past.
Deserted: There have been several emails and tweets asking about the Abu Dhabi Tour. Watching it yesterday you saw the 5km to go banner and felt relief rather than excitement, the hope that it would all end. In Qatar teams are doing drills for the sprint classics and keen to test their form but by now everyone looks tired. Still, let’s wait until the end of the race before reviewing it, cycling fans are a conservative bunch there were probably people slating the Tour de France when it was launched because it was new and excessive. Saturday’s stage around the Yas motor circuit promises a small first with images from the onboard bike cameras set to form part of the live broadcast output. There’ll be a closer look at the race in the coming days.
Ciao! Abu Dhabi is owned by RCS Sport, owners of the Giro. RCS Sport is in turn part of RCS Media, a large Italian media conglomerate. It’s suffering, the stock price looks the the profile of a downhill time trial and has just cratered to a new low. Compounding this the boss Pietro Scott Jovane has just walk out. Pushed or jumped? It doesn’t mean much for cycling for now, as much as we might think the Giro is huge, it’s only a tiny niche of RCS’s media empire.
Gains Marginaux, Part I
From firing to hiring Ag2r La Mondiale have recruited another coach according to French website Direct Velo. Samuel Bellenoue will specialise in nutrition and altitude training camps and joins a staff of three other coaches already. It’s all part of the team’s drive to invest in performance and support.
Gains Marginaux, Part II
It was touched on in the Lombardia review but FDJ will stop sponsoring their cyclo-cross specialist Francis Mourey. He’s landed on his feet with a contract from Fortuneo-Vital Concept, the new name for Bretagne-Séché in 2016 and has been almost invincible in French CX races although he’s 34 now and Clément Venturini of Cofidis is starting to get the better of him. Team boss Marc Madiot loves his cyclo-cross, part of his empiricism that goes like this: “I did CX and won Paris-Roubaix so you should do CX“. The money saved on Mourey is being ploughed into windtunnel sessions, altitude training camps and stage race recons and it’s not just Mourey’s wage bill, there’s the cost of a soigneur and mechanic for him plus the vehicles to keep him on the road, a camper van and a supply truck.
Both cases show the French team playing catch-up and it’s still a long way from Team Sky who can afford to hire staff like Robby Ketchell as data analysts.
Night time testing
A quick briefing on night time anti-doping tests in France. They can now happen in France but as ever it’s all about the details and these new tests come with beaucoup strings attached. First is the sine qua non that the testers must have “serious and specific suspicions” meaning they cannot blanket test riders but have demonstrate grounds for the test. Next athletes have to consent to them, for those in France they must sign up for this at least once every six months while foreign athletes visiting France can sign up this way or by accepting the rules as part of a race, eg the Tour de France requires riders to agree and requests a signature. Athletes may say “no” to it all but the testers can still return if they have a warrant from a judge after pleading their case to the judiciary.
This Sunday’s Paris-Tours is the last race on TV this year and often with a thrilling finish. There will be a preview here in due course.