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First Edition Cycling News, Friday, December 10, 2010

Date published:
December 10, 2010, 0:00 GMT
  • Rasmussen to lead new Christina Watches team

    The controversial Michael Rasmussen pictured at the Tre Valli Varesine
    Article published:
    December 09, 2010, 14:35 GMT
    Cycling News

    Danish squad seeks ProTeam status by 2016

    Michael Rasmussen will be the leader of a new, Danish Continental team, Christina Watches. The new outfit, sponsored by jewelry designer Christina Hembo and kitchen manufacturer Designa Køkken, was officially presented on Thursday in Herning, Denmark.

    The new team, of which only Rasmussen is known as being signed as a rider, came to life when Hembo bought Danish Continental Team Stenca Trading M1, effectively taking over their Continental license and logistics. They have long-term plans for the outfit to move up within team levels to become a ProTeam by 2016.

    "We are running under the slogan 'everybody deserve a second chance' - and it will show in our rider signings. Michael Rasmussen is the sole captain of the team," said Claus Hembo, design director of the sponsor company.

    In addition to his new role as a team captain, Rasmussen also has plans to support the squad beyond his active career. Should the team get access to the highest level of pro cycling and the Tour de France one day, the Dane would be ready to fill in a management role.

    "Obviously I am well aware that in 2016 it's probably not going to be me that will ride the Tour de France. But I have a very clear goal of driving the car behind," said Rasmussen, who in six years will be 41 years old. But for now, he concentrates on getting back to competition.

    "Plan A has always been Bjarne Riis and Saxo Bank-SunGard, but it did not work out. This is Plan B, but I don't think of Bjarne anymore, I focus on Christina Watches," he said.

    Rasmussen served a two-year suspension for lying about his whereabouts before the 2007 Tour de France. When the ban ended in July 2009, he rode for the Mexican team Tecos-Trek, then for Miche-Silver Cross this year. Since July he has been racing for Christina Racing, supported by Hembo as a personal sponsor.

  • CONI requests ban for Bernucci’s family

    Lorenzo Bernucci is back with Lampre again in 2010.
    Article published:
    December 09, 2010, 14:50 GMT
    Stephen Farrand

    Lampre rider and family implicated in doping case

    The Italian Olympic Committee’s anti-doping investigators have formally requested that Lorenzo Bernucci and four members of his family be banned for doping after studying the evidence of a police investigation.

    In an official announcement on the Comitato Olimpico Nazionale Italiano (CONI) website, the investigators requested that Bernucci be banned for six years while his wife Valentina Borgioli, brother Alessio Bernucci, mother Antonella Rossi and father-in-law Fabrizio Borgioli each be banned for four years.

    Bernucci’s relatives do not compete in any kind of competitive sport but can be banned from entering sports facilities and events under Italian sporting law.

    Bernucci was banned in 2007 and fired from the T-Mobile after testing positive for weight loss drug Sibutramine but made a comeback and rode for Lampre-Farnese Vini this year. He won a stage at the 2005 Tour de France while riding for Fassa Bortolo.

    His home was searched in April and several drugs were found but Bernucci claimed that they belonged to his wife and brother.

    Teammate and close friend Alessandro Petacchi was also involved in the police investigation. He was suspected of using Pfc (Perfluorocarbon) and human serum albumin. Pfc can be used to increase the oxygen carrying capacity of the blood without raising haematocrit levels.

    Petacchi was questioned by the CONI investigators a few days after winning the green points jersey at the Tour de France and again in August. He denied any wrong doing and has so far not been deferred for disciplinary action.

  • Kelly Benefit Strategies announces 15-man roster

    The Kelly Benefit Strategies professional cycling team
    Article published:
    December 09, 2010, 15:38 GMT
    Kirsten Frattini

    Four additions to the 2010 squad

    Kelly Benefit Strategies completed its roster with the announcement of four new riders - Thomas Soladay, Julian Kyer, Colton Barrett and Michael Sherer - who will join the team for the 2011 season. The US-based Continental outfit will have a strong presence in the National Racing Calendar (NRC) along with select European and Asian events.

    "We were aggressive with our additions early on because we knew that we were going to have some turnover this year," said directeur sportif Jonas Carney. "Our goal is to build as much depth as we can and have as many guys as possible that can pull off results."

    The team signed four new riders last month that include Michael Friedman from Jelly Belly, Michael Creed from Team Type 1, Jason Donald from the former Bahati Pro Cycling squad and US Pro Criterium Champion Daniel Holloway from Bissell.

    "One big goal was to make our stage race team stronger," Carney said. "We have a well-rounded team to race any style of race successfully but our biggest improvement should be in difficult climbing and altitude stage races."

    Returning riders include Alex Candelario, Andrew Bajadali, Reid Mumford, Jesse Anthony, Marsh Cooper, Dan Bowman and Cheyne Hoag. "We are sticking to our philosophy of keeping the team North American and we wanted to stick to the idea of having a whole bunch of riders that can win races instead of just one guy that can win," Carney said.

    Notably absent from the roster was David Veilleux who will step into a full European racing season with the French-based Professional Continental team Europcar next season.

    "David was a special rider and a great person to work with for three years," Carney said. "It was difficult to see him go because he thrived in our program and we really benefited from having him on our team. But he wanted to make that step and go to Europe, and we are excited for him."

    Kelly Benefit Strategies will begin its season at a snowy meet-and-greet...

  • Belgian amateur champion receives one-year ban

    The Flemish and Belgian flags wave wildly for Tom Boonen.
    Article published:
    December 09, 2010, 17:26 GMT
    Cycling News

    Taelman himself asked for doping controls to be performed

    Rudy Taelman, 49, Belgian amateur champion of his age category, has been handed a one-year ban for a positive doping control for which he had asked. As an active anti-doping advocate, he had instigated the doping controls performed by the Flemish Community at the Belgian Championships of the WAOD amateur cycling federation. But after he'd won his age group event, he tested positive for Methylhexanamine.

    Meanwhile, Taelman has been able to gather enough evidence to show that his positive control was the result of a food supplement he'd taken. "I can't be as stupid to dope while at the same time asking for an anti-doping control myself? I'm not 100 percent against doping, but 1000 percent," he told Sportwereld.

    Banned from competition until July 1, 2011, Taelman would have liked to take his case to court but lacks the money. Even the Belgian agency for food safety supports his argument that the Methylhexanamine came from a supplement by the name of Crack. "I especially looked for a safe supplement and my pharmacist said that Crack did not contain any doping," said Taelman. "How can I, along with thousands of recreational sportsmen, know that Crack contains Methylhexanamine?"

    The affair has created a stir in Belgium, where food supplements are now under pressure. Also, Methylhexanamine is not forbidden during training but only in competition, which is another factor for confusion. "I'd like nothing more than that they continue anti-doping controls, also in competitions that are not for professionals. But what is really annoying is that recreational sportsmen - and there are a lot of them - are being deceived by the food supplement industry," Taelman said

  • Bellis looking forward to return to peloton

    Jonathan Bellis (Saxo Bank)
    Article published:
    December 09, 2010, 17:35 GMT
    Cycling News

    Saxo Bank rider still recovering from 2009 motorbike crash

    Jonathan Bellis is looking forward to returning to professional cycling full-time.  He admits that he is still not recovered from his September 2009 accident which put him in a coma for six weeks, but says he hopes to get back to the top level.

    "My goal is simply to allow my body to get used to the pressure during the races. In time, I hope to get back to the level I was before and then to get even better," he said on the Team Saxo Bank website.

    Bellis, now 22, was in a motorbike accident last year which dramatically changed his life.  “After being hit by a car in September 2009, I went into coma and no one knew if I'd live through it. In September 2010, I had my last operation and finally, I'm on my way back to the road. I lost a lot of muscle and weighed in at 46 kilos.”

    "Surely, I see life differently now. Minor everyday problems don't get too big,” he said.   “Compared to what I've been through this past year, I'm just happy to be alive.”

    “I actually did a stage in Tour of Britain this autumn which was a victory for me. To feel the butterflies in my stomach the night and the morning before the race and to put the race numbers on my back was an excellent experience."

    Bellis returned to racing in June of this year, riding both the Isle of Man and British national championships.  He then went on to the GP Plouay, which he didn't finish, before tackling the Tour of Britain. Bellis had to drop out of the first stage of that race after only 54 miles.

    Those were only the first steps of his comeback, and he knows who to thank for them.  "The support from the team has been unbelievable and more than I could have hoped for. Bjarne has given me the time to recover and has been there for me in every little need I have had. I really appreciate the help and support from the whole team."

    He has now returned from the Saxo Bank teambuilding,...

  • Pegasus, Geox, Luxembourg among 16 teams invited to Tour of Oman

    The scenery at the Tour of Oman was unlike that which the peloton is used to racing past.
    Article published:
    December 09, 2010, 18:18 GMT
    Stephen Farrand

    2011 edition to tackle hillier route

    The Tour of Oman will cover a hillier route in 2011 with a finish on the slopes of the Jebel Akhdar mountain and an 18km individual time trial.

    Fabian Cancellara won the first edition of the race this year.  The second edition of the six-stage race will be held in mid-February (15-20) following on from the Tour of Qatar (February 6-11).

    Tour of Oman organiser Eddy Merckx, the Tour de France Director Christian Prudhomme and Bernard Hinault joined the Muscat Municipality Director-General Saif Al Rashidy in Oman to unveil the full route and reveal the teams invited to take part.

    Sixteen teams of eight riders will line-up for the race, including the new Pegasus Sports team, Astana, Garmin-Cervelo, Geox-TMC, Liquigas-Cannondale, Team Sky, HTC-Highroad and the Luxembourg Pro Cycling Project. Big names on the start list last year included Tyler Farrar, Edvald Boasson Hagen, Tom Boonen, Daniele Bennati, Taylor Phinney and Filippo Pozzato.

    The 2011 race begins with a 158km stage on the coast near the capital Muscat and then a transfer to the southern coastal town of Sur for stage 3. The finish on Jebel Akhdar is on stage four after 157km of racing and the18km time trial is on stage five. The race ends with a 157km stage from Qurayyat to the Mattrah Seafront.

    “In February 2011 the Tour will be one of the key highlights of the Muscat Festival (January 27 – February 24), an annual showcase of Oman’s heritage and culture. The competitors will be racing across some of the most spectacular Omani countryside as well as through the heart of Muscat,” Saif Al Rushaidy said.

    ASO will again be responsible for the technical organisation of the race, and Tour de France Director Christian Prudhomme, praised the atmosphere of the inaugural edition in 2010.

    “Racing through Oman’s magnificent countryside, the atmosphere was exhilarating. With the edition of the Sultanate of Oman to the world...

  • Cavendish has ambitions for the Classics

    Mark Cavendish made his Tour of Flanders debut in 2010 and will return in 2011.
    Article published:
    December 09, 2010, 21:15 GMT
    Laura Weislo

    Tour of Flanders, Paris-Roubaix on 2011 schedule

    Mark Cavendish has emphatically etched his name in the annals of cycling history as one of the sport's top sprinters, but he revealed this week that he has ambitions to live a childhood dream and compete for the cobbled Classics - the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix.

    For the upcoming season, the HTC-Highroad star said he would ride those races in support of his teammates, but hinted that down the line, he might try to add one of the races to his long list of victories.

    Speaking at the team's camp in Northern California, Cavendish said he asked to add the Classics to his schedule because, after winning 15 Tour de France stages, he misses getting into the nitty gritty of racing.

    "I miss that because I've been so well protected," he said. "My team does all my work for me, they're incredible guys, and I don't really have to do anything anymore. I kind of miss that - I want to be able to get involved in the racing, help someone else and get some experience in those races. I've been wanting to do that since I turned pro but I wasn't allowed."

    It may sound crazy for the team to put its star sprinter in the most challenging and dangerous races of the season where the possibility of injury could ruin his chances of capturing his other goal, to win the points jersey in the Tour de France, but director Rolf Aldag is willing to take that risk to present Cavendish with the new challenges he craves.

    "He went to the Tour and won 15 stages, as bad as it sounds it gets a little routine," said Aldag, explaining that having new goals is a way to keep his rider motivated. "From that point of view, it makes sense," Aldag said.

    Cavendish started the Tour of Flanders for the first time in 2010, but didn't reach the finish. Aldag didn't count Cavendish out of challenging for a result in the Classics, but said it would be difficult to go in with the same kind of ambitions with which he approached the 2009 Milan-San Remo.

    "Do I...

  • Launceston Cycling Classic boasts stellar field

    Cameron Meyer (Australia) with the gold medal and world champion's jersey he won in the men's points race.
    Article published:
    December 10, 2010, 3:18 GMT
    Cycling News

    Meyer brothers amongst a host of Australian pros to ride in Tasmania

    This year's Launceston Cycling Classic on December 27 promises to be the toughest race since its inception in 2002, with multiple track world champion and recent Australian Cyclist of the Year Cameron Meyer headlining the field with his brother and Garmin-Transitions teammate, Travis.

    With sponsorship from local cycling company 'Rapid Cycling' (run by national MTB champions Rowena Fry and Ben Mather), the event will feature some of Tasmania's best cycling exports, including Wes and Bernie Sulzberger, neo-pro Will Clarke, HTC-Columbia team member Matthew Goss and best young rider at the Giro d'Italia, Richie Porte.

    Aaron Kemps will also be racing for Pegasus Sports and as holder of the national criterium jersey it ensures that all three current national road champions will be present.

    Australian sprinters Graeme Brown and Leigh Howard will also start the race in addition to a host of local talent from the Genesys Wealth Advisers team, which took out the 2010 National Road Series championship this year. Australian National Road Series and Scody Cup champion Pat Shaw will also ride, with former team-mates Scott Law and Michael Freiburg taking part.

    Drapac Porsche will take a three-pronged attack spearheaded by former junior world champion Tom Palmer with stalwarts Stuart Shaw and David Pell in support.

    The building block for the careers of riders such as Goss and Clarke, the Launceston Cycling Classic is an important part of the Australian calendar and race director Tom Sawyer is thrilled with the startlist. "The race is getting bigger every year and it's great to see so much interest from some of the Australia's best cyclists," said Sawyer.

    "We'd love to see a home town winner again. Richie Porte - 'Mr People's Choice' - would look good on the honour roll. He's in good shape and we are hopeful one of the locals will claim victory."