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First Edition Cycling News, Friday, August 17, 2012

Date published:
August 17, 2012, 1:00 BST
  • Olympic medalist Armitstead's AA Drink team ending

    The winner's podium for AA Drink teammates Emma Pooley, Sharon Laws and Lizzie Armitstead
    Article published:
    August 16, 2012, 18:15 BST
    Cycling News

    Prominent women's team loses sponsor

    The end of the Olympic cycle appears to be the end of one of cycling's most prominent women's teams - the AA squad is reported to be stopping at the end of the season. today reported that riders and support staff have been informed this week by team manager Michael Zijlaard that AA Drink has decided not to extend its sponsorship and that the organisation has opted to disband rather than launch a new search for funds.

    The team provided a haven for riders left looking for work at the termination of Garmin's women's program: Olympic silver medalist Elizabeth Armitstead, former world time trial champion Emma Pooley, Olympians Shelley Olds, Kirsten Wild and Willy Kanis and British champion Sharon Laws are among those affected by the cessation of the team.

    Women's cycling has historically been affected by the Olympic cycle: with the only coverage of the sport in the main stream press coming every four years, most of the sponsorship comes ahead of the Games.

    The number of women's teams registered with the UCI reached a seven year peak in 2012, with 49 professional teams licensed. Statistics on the UCI's website show only 25 registered in the year after the Athens Olympic Games. That swelled to 42 in the year leading up to the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, and levelled off between 37 and 41 from 2008 to 2011.

    Several riders have criticized the UCI for not doing more for women's cycling, which is run under rules similar to the lowest tier of professional men's cycling. Pooley called for more...

  • Univest GP revived as Thompson Bucks County Classic

    The 2011 Univest Grand Prix Criterium winner, Jesse Anthony (Kelly Benefit Strategies).
    Article published:
    August 16, 2012, 19:34 BST
    Cycling News

    Doylestown to host UCI, NRC race

    After losing the sponsorship of the Univest Corporation, the Doylestown, Pennsylvania UCI race has been revived through the support of the Thompson Organization automobile dealerships, organizers Sparta Cycling announced today.

    The race will take place as scheduled on September 15 with a UCI 1.2 ranking for a new 102.7-mile long race from New Hope to Doylestown. The event is also on USA Cycling's National Racing Calendar.

    The newly designed road race course begins in New Hope, heading over rolling terrain to a 14.3-mile circuit which will be contested six times for a total of 8,250 feet of climbing before the 7.8-mile run to the finish in Doylestown.

    "We have a great new sponsor in The Thompson Organization, who are very excited to bring authentic European style road racing to Bucks County," said Race Director John Eustice. "USA Cycling has really worked hard to help us keep our UCI and NRC status throughout this rebuilding period.

    "The Thompson Bucks County Classic will be an absolutely beautiful race, one that will provide an unique, exciting and intimate spectator experience. The Classic course, with steep and twisting terrain, is for a true bicycle racer, one who knows how to handle his machine."

    The race will be followed by Sunday's 9th annual Thompson Criterium in Doylestown and the 14th running of the 100km cyclosportif, held in Upper Bucks County for the public.

    New sponsor Teva Respiratory will patron the Best Climber Award, and Doylestown Hospital will sponsor the Best Sprinter Award.

    For more information, visit

  • Guardini joins Fuglsang in move to Astana

    Andrea Guardini (Farnese Vini-Selle Italia) is all smiles
    Article published:
    August 16, 2012, 22:15 BST
    Cycling News

    Astana confirms more signings

    The Astana team today confirmed the signing of Danish rider Jakob Fuglsang, adding that Italian Andrea Guardini will also move to the team on a two-year contract.

    Guardini joins his compatriots Enrico Gasparotto and Maxim Iglinskiy, who won in the Ardennes Classics this season for Astana, and new Italian recruits Vincenzo Nibali, Alessandro Vanotti and neo-pro Fabio Aru. Fuglsang inked a three-year deal with the team.

    "We have taken on Guardini because we want to compete on all fronts, and he is without doubt the sprinter we were missing. He is young, but in two years as a professional with Farnese he has already picked up 21 wins," said team manager Giuseppe Martinelli. "I am sure he will rise to new and more important achievements from next year onwards."

    Guardini, 23, spent his first two full professional seasons with the Farnese Vini-Selle Italia team, and has proven to be a prolific sprint winner. In addition to his first Grand Tour stage win at the Giro d'Italia (stage 18 to Vedelago), he has racked up multiple stages of the Tour of Qinghai Lake, Presidential Tour of Turkey and 11 wins in the Tour de Langkawi.

    Fuglsang comes to the team after a contentions stint with the RadioShack-Nissan team. The Dane was left off the team's Tour de France squad despite having won the Tour of Luxembourg. He went on to take the overall victory in the Tour of Austria.

    "Our agreement with Fuglsang is a cornerstone of Pro Team Astana's strategy for 2013," Martinelli said. "With him, Nibali and Brajkovic, we have got three excellent leaders for competing in next year's three Grand Tours. He is still a young rider who can give his best in our team.

  • Samuel Sanchez to lead Euskaltel in Tour of Britain

    Spain's Samuel Sanchez in relaxed mood at the 2012 Tour de France
    Article published:
    August 17, 2012, 4:51 BST
    Cycling News

    Basque rider continues build-up for Worlds

    Samuel Sanchez will make his Tour of Britain debut next month. The Euskaltel-Euskadi rider will continue his comeback to racing whilst preparing for the World Championships in Valkenberg, Netherlands.

    Sanchez suffered fractures to his left shoulder blade and right hand in a crash during the eighth stage of the Tour de France, denying him the opportunity to defend his gold medal at the 2012 London Olympics. He returned to racing at the Clasica San Sebastian this week, abandoning after nearly 200kms.

    It was recently announced that Sanchez will stay with the Basque team another three years.

    Sanchez will lead a strong climbing team in Britain. He won the mountain ranking in the Tour de France in 2011, and teammate Egoi Martinez won that title at the Vuelta a Espana in 2006.

    The Tour of Britin runs from September 9-16, and the world championship road race is one week later.

    Euskaltel-Euskadi for the Tour of Britain (provisional): Samuel Sanchez; Victor Cabedo, Egoi Martinez, Miguel Minguez, Adrian Saez and Pablo Urtasun

  • Andy Schleck ruled out of US Pro Cycling Challenge

    Frank and Andy Schleck (RadioShack-Nissan)
    Article published:
    August 17, 2012, 9:42 BST
    Cycling News

    Still suffering from fractured pelvis

    Andy Schleck is not ready to return to racing and will not ride the USA Pro Cycling Challenge, which starts on Monday in Colorado. His brother Fränk, who is currently suspended from the team, will also not participate.

    The younger Schleck, “was on the list of preselected riders, but he is not ready yet for such a hard race,” team spokesman Philippe Maertens told “That fracture in his pelvis is still bothering him.”

    Andy Schleck fractured the sacral bone of his pelvis in a crash during the Criterium du Dauphine in early June, and has not yet returned to racing. Fränk Schleck was provisionally suspended by the team after testing positive for a diuretic during the Tour de France.

    Team director Johan Bruyneel had indicated on his blog a few weeks ago that the Colorado race was on Andy Schleck's schedule, but his participation was never confirmed.

    Maertens said that recent reports that the Schlecks would ride were “very wrong. Frank will not race — provisionally suspended by the team,” and as for Andy, “The organizers announced him. We did not.”

    Instead, the team is sending its three eldest riders – Jens Voigt and Chris Horner, both of whom turn 41 later this year, and 37-year-old Andreas Klöden – as well as Tour of Austria winner Jakob Fuglsang. who will ride for Astana next year.

    RadioShack-Nissan for the UCA Pro Cycling Classic: George Bennett, Matthew Busche, Jakob Fuglsang, Chris Horner, Ben King, Andreas Klöden, Jens Voigt and Oliver Zaugg

  • Gesink: This Vuelta is the hardest race I've seen

    Robert Gesink (Rabobank) was involved in the crash and had to chase on his own, losing over three minutes
    Article published:
    August 17, 2012, 10:40 BST
    Daniel Benson

    Rabobank climber ready for Spain's grand tour

    Robert Gesink (Rabobank) aims to put a disappointing Tour de France behind him as he lines up for the start of the Vuelta a España. The 26-year-old climber abandoned this year’s Tour but with two top ten finishes in the Vuelta, is hopeful of a strong showing in the Spanish three-week race.

    After a strong ride in the recent Tour of Burgos, where he finished sixth, Gesink is still cautious about his chances though. Despite the climber-suited parcour the Rabobank rider admits that the 10 summit finishes make this a challenge he has never encountered before.

    "For me personally I’d like to see where I am again after a difficult season coming back. Hopefully I can make it to the highest level," he told Cyclingnews.

    "It’s day-by-day especially in a Vuelta like this with all these difficult days. Of course I don’t know how I’m going to react in the race but I hope that I can find my old legs again in race I’ve done well at in the past. I hope to be there at the top but that’s three weeks from now."

    "But this is a really difficult race. I think it’s the most difficult parcour I’ve seen in a grand tour ever since I’ve been a bike rider. It’s another reason to take it steady and day-by-day. It’s a grand tour for climbers but things can happen in the first week but there are already uphills but a lot of things can happen even before the final week of climbing. It could make it a really surprising grand tour."

    Rabobank lines up with another Dutch rider who has tasted success at the Vuelta. Like Gesink, Bauke Mollema started this year’s Tour with hopes of  the GC. However he...

  • Contador plays down favourite tag ahead of Vuelta a España

    Alberto Contador at his pre-Vuelta press conference
    Article published:
    August 17, 2012, 11:08 BST
    Alasdair Fotheringham

    Spaniard Says “First week won’t be at my best”

    With just 24 hours left before the Vuelta a España gets underway, Alberto Contador used his pre-race press conference to attempt to play down the expectations surrounding his return to Grand Tour stage racing.

    Flanked by all eight Saxo Bank teammates for his home race, as well as his team manager Bjarne Riis, the 29-year-old Spaniard started the conference by dodging the question of whether he was the top favourite of the race.

    “It’s up to other people to decide whether I’m the number one rider for this race, not me. I’m just going to try to do this the best possible and that’s all,” Contador said.

    “I will be fighting for the victory, for sure. I’m very aware there are a lot of riders out there who are very strong and ready to go, and I’m also very aware that in every race, sometimes you win and sometimes you lose.”

    Contador denied that anger he might feel at what he perceives to be an unjust ban would act as extra motivation during his first Grand Tour since the suspension ended.

    “I’m in good shape, keen and motivated, even if the last two years [of suspension] have had their effect on me. I’ve suffered a lot.”

    “But thanks to the support I’ve received from people I’ve been able to overcome this situation. And now I want to do this race as well as possible, enjoy being on the bike and focus on fighting for that victory.”

    Asked if he was feeling fresher after such a long spell without racing, Contador said, “relatively so. I’m in good shape but often I train harder than I race. Ok, I’m more rested than other contenders, but probably they’ll go better than me in the...

  • Navarro leaving Saxo Bank for Cofidis

    Daniel Navarro Garcia
    Article published:
    August 17, 2012, 12:41 BST
    Cycling News

    Spaniard to French team for two years

    Daniel Navarro is leaving Alberto Contador and Team Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank to ride with Cofidis. He has signed a two-year contract with the French team, according to the AFP news agency.

    Navarro, 29, has ridden alongside Contador in 2005-2006 and 2008 to the present, on teams ranging from Liberty Seguros to Astana to Saxo Bank. He is considered one of Contador's most trusted lieutenants.

    Earlier this month Navarro won the third stage of the Tour de l'Ain and finished third overall. He also was third overall in the Tour de Méditerranée earlier this year.

    Navarro's racing calendar was altered this year in order for him to help Contador at the Vuelta a Espana. He had originally been planned to ride the Tour de France, but after Contador's suspension, the plans were changed. "Alberto needs me, and I want to be good for the month of August," he said to in the spring.