Saturday, 12 January 2013

Saturday Shorts: Saxo The New Sky?, 2013 Vuelta Route Revealed, Africans In Europe Debut, Giro d'Italia Irish Send-off?

 
When it was announced that the 2014 Tour de France would start in Yorkshire there was definitely excitement building in Britain as the cycling boom took hold, now it looks like 2014 could see two Grand departs as L'equipe suggests the Giro may start in Ireland. The Vuelta 2013 roue has been announced and if we thought 2012 was tough, then there is certainly no let-up in 2013! A very happy bunch of African riders will be hitting European shores this year and as De Jongh announces a deal with Saxobank - are they the new Sky?...

Saxobank The New Sky?

Ex-Sky Director Sportif Steven De Jongh has announced that he will take a position at the Bjarne Riis run Saxobank squad this year. De Jongh left Sky at the end of last year as a result of the anti-doping 'sign or die' strategy where he admitted that he had used banned substances earlier in his career before hinting at his use of EPO whilst at the TVM team. Saxobank also took on Mick Rogers who managed to exit Sky via the back door last year rather than sign the doping innitiative there - what does this say about Saxobanks attitude to ex-dopers? Well not alot but then they did keep Alberto Contador on their books through his doping suspension so it's nothing new and they could point to Garmin-Sharps 'second chance' stance as another example. De Jongh was a good Director Sportif at Sky - will that inside knowledge be of use to Riis and his team? Of course...

2013 Vuelta a Espana Route Unveiled.

Some critics suggested that the 2012 Vuelta was just to difficult, especially in its place at the latter end of the season and with 10 Summit finishes - two of which many riders got off and walked up - it's no real surprise, even Contador looked to be struggling by the end. So what does 2013 hold? Yep, that's right, 11 Summit finished! I was a big fan of the 2012 route and although it sometimes bordered on the insane and at worst repetitive, it did make for some exciting riding, so here's hoping 2013 will deliver the same. There is set to be two new summit finishes in Andalusia and a rare jaunt into France for a mountain top finish in the Peyragudes. The full route can be found here.

African MTN-Qhubeka Team Get European Invites

Africa's first professional-continental team MTN-Qhubeka have landed themselves with some interesting wildcard invites for 2013 already. Their inclusion at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, Tirreno-Adriatico and Milan-Sanremo will see them well and truly mixing it with the big boys and usher in a new era of African cycling in what is unprecedented for cycling on that continent. No African team has ever competed at this level in Europe before which makes 2013 a pretty big deal for MTN-Qhubeka. I will be following the teams progress throughout the year...

Britains Two Grand Tour In One Year?

British cycling has been massively on the up since Bradley Wiggins walked away from France with a yellow jersey in July 2012. With Olympic success in abundance and a sell out Tour of Britain, news that the 2014 Tour de France would depart from Yorkshire was finally an exciting prospect for the British public. So with French newspaper L'equipe reporting that the early stages of the 2014 Giro d’Italia will be in Northern and Southern Ireland featuring a start in Belfast and a possible stage finish in Dublin, it really will be another massive year in cycling for the UK as the sport continues its meteoric rise. Race organisers RCS Sport have refused to comment on the L'equipe story but have not denied or confirmed either way, which does look promising. Time to start planning my 2014 Holidays...

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