The fallout from Tom Danielson's postive test continues, Orica-GREENEDGE bolsters their Classics squad, and Aru weighs in on Nibali racing the Vuelta. Plus, find out which retired Aussie racer has just become Queensland cyclocross champ.


Tuesday 4 Aug 2015

Warning: some strong language contained within.

The news of Cannondale-Garmin rider Tom Danielson's positive test for synthetic testosterone has cast a pall over the beginning of the Tour of Utah - not least because the rider acts as an ambassador for the race.

VeloNews quizzed a number of riders on the startline, who were shocked while (understandably) reserving judgement on Danielson's guilt. Jamis-Hagens Berman rider Ben Jacques-Maynes was more forthright.

“Danielson and I turned pro the same year,” Jacques-Maynes said to VeloNews. “You can see the massive difference in our career trajectories from 2002. Having said that, we now know why there’s a trajectory difference.

“We kind of knew about that with the Reasoned Decision and the whole Lance Armstrong thing coming out," he added. "Danielson gave plenty of testimony about his own drug use then. But I guess he hasn’t given it up. I don’t what he could be thinking that it’s even a possibility. I don’t know what drives people to do these things.”

Little has emerged from the Cannondale-Garmin camp since the news of the positive test, with usually verbose team manager Jonathan Vaughters remaining silent on Twitter over the last two days and the team Twitter account remaining silent on the news. That hasn't stopped other commentators pitching in, however, including one Lance Armstrong:

The other major news from the Tour of Utah is the return to competition of BMC Racing's Taylor Phinney. The American rider has been sidelined since a major crash in the 2014 US national championships that resulted in multiple leg injuries. The chance of Phinney returning to racing altogether was in doubt at several points in the last year.

It turns out that those fears were unfounded, because Phinney's back with a bang. Not only did Phinney complete the first stage of the Tour of Utah, he sprinted to third place out of a five-man group. Here's hoping we see much more of his fighting spirit in future.

Juul-Jensen, who currently rides for Tinkoff-Saxo, has signed a two-year contract with the Australian team.

“I’m very happy and excited to be joining ORICA-GreenEDGE for the coming two years,” Juul-Jensen said. “Orica-GREENEDGE has some of the most well respected, experienced and winning riders of the peloton as well as the biggest up and coming talent. To be part of such a group of riders is going to be an incredible experience."

Orica-GREENEDGE directeur sportif Matt White added that Juul-Jensen would play a key role in the Aussie team's Classics squad, as well as helping to develop the team's Grand Tour ambitions. However, the biggest test for Juul-Jensen is yet to come:

Tour de France green jersey winner, SBS pundit and all-round Aussie legend Robbie McEwen may be officially retired from the competitive scene, but he's still putting the hurt on other racers.

McEwen took to the racetrack in Nundah over the weekend to race in the Queensland state cyclocross championships - and ended up winning the title after breaking away from a leading group of four riders.

McEwen admitted afterwards that his preparation was non-existent (we should probably blame Tomo for that) and he was in real danger of being dropped from the lead group several times.

“I don’t think the other boys knew how much I was suffering,” he said.

Mountain bike racer Imogen Smith won the women's race, with Robbie McEwen's son Ewen McEwen wininng the under-15s race. 

The Australian national cyclocross championships take place this coming weekend in Melbourne.

More pics and reportage available from Queensland Cyclocross here.

The news that Vincenzo Nibali will race the Vuelta a Espana alongside up and coming Italian rider Fabio Aru has caused many to speculate that we could see a Hinault and LeMond-style battle for supremacy in the Astana team during the Spanish Grand Tour. However, Aru insists that's not going to be the case.

“It’s better to have Vincenzo as a teammate,” Aru told La Gazzetta dello Sport over the weekend. “It’s the others who will have the problems.”

Nibali endured a difficult Tour de France, failing to defend his 2014 title and ultimately finishing fourth with an impressive stage win in the final week. Meanwhile, Aru took second place in the Giro d'Italia earlier this year. Both men will be eager to prove their mettle in the Vuelta.

“[Nibali and I] spoke on the telephone Thursday. He’s come out of the of the Tour in great form, the win gave him a good boost,” Aru said. “We are professionals, we know how to do our work, we know the rules of the team. I have a good relationship with him even if we never race together.”