TechPowered By

More tech

First Edition Cycling News, February 20, 2008

Date published:
February 20, 2008, 0:00 GMT
  • Azevedo to retire at season's end

    Jose Azevedo (Discovery Channel)
    Article published:
    February 20, 2008, 0:00 GMT
    By:
    Monika Prell

    By Monika Prell Portuguese rider José Azevedo (Benfica) has announced at a press conference that...

    By Monika Prell

    Portuguese rider José Azevedo (Benfica) has announced at a press conference that 2008 will be his last season, no matter what results he achieves during the year. The 34 year-old, who was born in Vila do Conde, has been a professional for 15 years.

    "I decided to hold a press conference because [everyone] deserves my highest respect and so, I think that the most appropriate is to announce this communiqué to everybody at the same time, and not in an individual form," started Azevedo. "I called this conference to announce that this will be my last year as professional rider.

    "At the end of 2008 I will close my cycling career," he repeated. "It's a personal decision, because I always wanted to be the one who decides the moment of the end of my career."

    The former ONCE and US Postal rider is one of the stars of the Portuguese cycling. Azevedo finished fifth and sixth in the Tour de France, and was instrumental in Lance Armstrong's victories at the Tour de France.

    "Independently of the obtained results, I announce my decision at the beginning of the season to avoid any possible speculation at the end of the season, and to confirm that my decision has been taken independently of the results I will obtain," he said.

    Azevedo went on to outline his aims and dedication to the season ahead. "This year, the Volta a Portugal will be my big objective because this will be my last chance to win it, but I will always have the interests of the team as priority," he explained. "As this will be my last year as professional cyclist, I will try to enjoy at a maximum the joy of being a cyclist, always with professionalism, honesty and respect, values I always respected in my cycling career."

    Azevedo finished the 2004 Giro d'Italia in fifth place and in 1996 was the Portuguese time trial champion.

  • Tour of California women race a hit

    The pack snakes down the road
    Article published:
    February 20, 2008, 0:00 GMT
    By:
    Cycling News

    By Kirsten Robbins in California, USA The inaugural Tour of California women's criterium proved to...

    By Kirsten Robbins in California, USA

    The inaugural Tour of California women's criterium proved to be a success as thousands of fans gathered two hours in advance of the men's stage two finish to get glimpses of the women's peloton fly through their Santa Rosa street. The women competed on a one and half mile circuit, sprinting to the same finish line as the men's race.

    According to AEG Sports president, Andrew Messick, the women's criterium is just the start of what's to come in future years, where plans are being drawn to incorporate a three day event for the women's field. "It was important for us to bring women's racing into the Amgen Tour of California," said Messick. "There are just as many women involved in this sport as there are men and the women who race commit themselves, they work hard and they sacrifice like everyone else and they deserve an opportunity to perform on this stage.

    "There are world champions and Olympic medallists in this field and just watching this race was outstanding," he added.

    The only glitch in the coordination of a women's stage race is that the women's Australian Geelong Tour is held on the same week and according to Messick, AEG Sports does not want to interfere with the current women's UCI schedule. "I think our next step is to make it more like a three-day race with leveraging the infrastructure that we have for the men's race," said Messick. "We thought very carefully about trying to do that this year and we were a little bit late in the organisation and we didn't want to compete with the UCI event in Geelong, Australia.

    "We are going to work next year, in 2009 to try to coordinate the calendars a little bit more," he said. "But we would really like there to be at least three stages."

    Budget for the women's criterium was extracted directly out of the budget for the men's stage race, however Messick...

  • Lastras takes Andalucía lead

    Article published:
    February 20, 2008, 0:00 GMT
    By:
    Cycling News

    Pablo Lastras (Caisse d'Epargne) has taken over the general classification lead at the 54th Vuelta a...

    Pablo Lastras (Caisse d'Epargne) has taken over the general classification lead at the 54th Vuelta a Andalucía (Ruta Ciclista del Sol), after finishing Stage 3 in the lead group of 25 riders. Lastras entered the stage 51 seconds behind Clément L'Hottelerie (Skil-Shimano), but the lead group containing the Spaniard finished 1.39 minutes ahead of the Frenchman on stage four.

    "Third the first day, second after the second stage and the first today," noted Lastras of his rise up the general classification. "It is true that I feel very well and that I can count on a very strong team, which supports me since the first day."

    The Spaniard finished sixth on the 174.5 kilometre stage to Jaén, with Alessandro Petacchi (Team Milram) out pacing Giovanni Visconti (Quick Step) for the stage victory in a small bunch sprint.

    Lastras explained that the group of 25 attacked on the day's final climb, the category three climb up Alto de la Guardia. "The ascent was very hard and we went very quickly," he said. "I believe that L'Hottelerie paid for the efforts he did the previous days and that he was therefore not able to follow our rhythm, which enabled me to climb on the podium and receive the red jersey."

    Lastras, who is in his fifth year with the Spanish ProTour team, won the Eneco Tour's sixth stage in 2007. The 32 year-old thanked his team-mates' for their efforts in helping him take over the leader's jersey heading into today's penultimate stage.

    "I am very happy, because I like this race and hoped to achieve something nice here," he said. "I particularly want to stress my team-mates' spectacular work, and in particular David Arroyo, Alberto Losada, Luis Pasamontes and Joaquím Rodríguez, who gave it all in the final of the stage to increase the gap and to give me this possibility to lead the overall classification.

    "It will not be easy to...

  • Menchov won't defend Vuelta title

    Menchov took home the Vuelta's trophy last year.
    Article published:
    February 20, 2008, 0:00 GMT
    By:
    Cycling News

    Rabobank's Denis Menchov won't defend his 2007 Vuelta a España title this year, opting instead to...

    Rabobank's Denis Menchov won't defend his 2007 Vuelta a España title this year, opting instead to concentrate on his Giro d'Italia and Tour de France campaigns. Defending his title at the Spanish Grand Tour is not as high a priority to the Russian as the sport's other two major crowns.

    "I want to win the Tour," he declared to HLN.be. "The Giro is a perfect build-up for the Tour, that's why I am not riding the Vuelta."

    Rabobank dominated the Spanish Grand Tour last year, with Menchov riding to a brilliant Stage 10 victory and winning the combination and mountains classifications in addition to his overall victory. The 30 year-old also won the points classification at last year's Volta a Catalunya.

    "With Rabobank we are capable of competing in all types of races," he explained. "We have riders for Tours, sprinters like Oscar Freire and with Juan Antonio Flecha we have some fire power in the one day classics."

    The 91st Giro d'Italia will run from May 10 to June 1, while the 95th Tour de France will run from July 5 - 27.

  • ASO invites gets political attention

    Article published:
    February 20, 2008, 0:00 GMT
    By:
    Cycling News

    Spanish politician Mariano Rajoy has called on French president Nicolas Sarkozy to pressure Tour de...

    Spanish politician Mariano Rajoy has called on French president Nicolas Sarkozy to pressure Tour de France organiser ASO into inviting 2007 winner Alberto Contador and his Astana team in this year's Tour according to Dutch newspaper The Telegraaf. ASO announced last week that Astana wouldn't be invited to contest any of its events this year, including the famed French Grand Tour, which starts in Brest on July 5.

    "You can't not take a 25 year-old rider, who only has a short time to ride at a professional level, to a race of that calibre," said Rajoy.

    ASO's decision not to invite Astana was met with dissatisfaction by Rajoy, the leader of the Spanish Peoples' Party, who believes the decision to be a blunder on the behalf of the French authorities.

  • RCS gives Astana the cold shoulder

    Andreas Klöden won't be able to defend his Tirreno-Adriatico title
    Article published:
    February 20, 2008, 0:00 GMT
    By:
    Kirsten Robbins in California, USA

    ProTour team Astana has been dealt another blow with major cycling race organiser RCS Sport not...

    ProTour team Astana has been dealt another blow with major cycling race organiser RCS Sport not inviting the squad to this year's Tirreno-Adriatico or Milano-Sanremo, according to HLN.be. The news comes exactly one week after fellow major cycling race organiser ASO, which operates the Tour de France, announced the Johan Bruyneel-led squad wouldn't be invited to any of its races in 2008.

    RCS Sport, who organises the Giro d'Italia, yesterday announced the squads for its first two major events of the season, with Astana left off the two invite lists. Astana's absence at Tirreno-Adriatico means Andreas Klöden is unable to defend his 2007 title at the event.

    "It's a very unfortunate situation for not only our riders, but also the sport of cycling," said team director Johan Bruyneel. "It appears that only a few powerful race organisers do not recognize that we are an entirely different team from 2007 and should be allowed to compete in the world's biggest races.

    "The decisions handed down by the organisers are inconsistent. RCS originally told us that our Giro d'Italia squad was not to their competitive expectations," he continued. "Now RCS has not invited us to Milano-Sanremo and Tirreno-Adriatico, where team leader Andreas Klöden was prepared to defend his 2007 title. It's very hard to understand these decisions when there are no rational and consistent reasons behind them. We continually attempt to reach RCS for further explanation and wait for proper justification as we still hope to participate in future RCS events."

    Also among the list of non-starters at Tirreno-Adriatico are Crédit Agricole and Bouygues Telecom, the two French teams that were also not selected for the Giro. Both teams have however reportedly been granted a start in the first Classic of the year, Milano-Sanremo....