- Article published:
- December 10, 2009, 22:32
- Peter Cossins
Expects BMC to be more focused on assisting Evans
Silence-Lotto's Matthew Lloyd believes his former team leader Cadel Evans is likely to thrive at his new BMC Racing team having made the surprise jump from the Belgian ProTour outfit. "Our team is not obviously totally and 100 percent driven to win the Tour de France as you would say Astana is or your CSCs of the world [are]," Lloyd told The Age newspaper.
"It's a team that is based in Belgium that has other objectives that are as big as the Tour de France as far as they're concerned, which makes it difficult, because if you're the best guy in the world who knows he can win a bike race, it's challenging to know that a team is there and they're probably not going to challenge the best guys," said 2008 Australian road champion Lloyd, who joined the Belgian squad in 2007 to act as a support rider in the mountains to his good friend Evans.
Evans, Lloyd believes, could well thrive in a team that is more focused on assisting him in achieving his goals, particularly at the Tour de France. "From a team perspective it could for Cadel...be a really good place to go. Solely because it gives him the freedom to explore whatever he wants to do and have a team that can back him up," said Lloyd of the world road champion, who produced his poorest ever performance in July.
Asked about the breakdown in relations between Silence-Lotto and Evans, who has been particularly critical of the team's management, Lloyd commented: "To me the relationship between our team and Cadel didn't exactly go through anything bad, it was just a time to change and everyone accepted that."
- Article published:
- December 11, 2009, 09:56
- Susan Westemeyer
Schleck named Luxembourg's Male Athlete of the Year
Andy Schleck was named Luxembourg's Male Athlete of the Year Thursday night. The Saxo Bank rider dominated the voting, easily beating his brother Fränk, who finished second.
The younger Schleck had 533 votes, with 276 going to Fränk. Kim Kirchen finished fifth, with 82 votes.
Schleck owed his trophy to his outstanding performances throughout the year. The Saxo Bank rider won Liège-Bastogne-Liège in the spring, and topped it off by finishing second overall in the Tour de France.
It was the seventh year in a row that a cyclist has won the honour. Kirchen won it 2003 to 2005, 2007 and 2008, with Fränk Schleck taking it in 2006. It was the first time that a pair of brothers have finished one-two in the voting.
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- Article published:
- December 11, 2009, 11:21
- Cycling News
Team's first camp gathers 2010 roster on Canary Island
Columbia-HTC is in full swing of preparing for the 2010 season. This week, the squad has convened at the Club La Santa in Lanzarote, Canary islands, Spain, for the team's first training camp with the full 2010 rider roster of 28 men. The outfit will spend ten days in planning, fittings, bike set-up, testing and training on the windy volcanic island off the Moroccan coast.
Team manager Rolf Aldag was excited about the camp, as well as about the new season prospects. "It's really great to have all of the guys together for the first time," he said. "We have eleven new riders on the roster and it's a good chance for them all to get to know each other and for the new guys to learn how we do things on this team. All of our individual meetings are going well and I have a really good feeling about 2010."
Together with the riders, Aldag enjoyed the warm weather conditions of Lanzarote. "The Island is perfect for training at any time of year," he dded. "We can train in short sleeves and we have the support of Club La Santa and the local government here so we feel very welcome."
The full Columbia-HTC 2010 team roster is:
Michael Albasini (SWI), Lars Bak (DEN), Mark Cavendish (GBR), Gert Dockx (BEL), Bernhard Eisel (AUT), Jan Gheyselinck (BEL), Mathew Goss (AUS), Bert Grabsch (GER), André Greipel (GER), Patrick Gretsch (GER), Rasmus Guldhammer (DEN), Adam Hansen (AUS), Leigh Howard (AUS), Craig Lewis (USA), Tony Martin (GER), Maxime Montfort (BEL), Marco Pinotti (ITA), Frantisek Rabon (CZE), Mark Renshaw (AUS), Vicente Reynes (SPA), Michael Rogers (AUS), Hayden Roulston (NZL), Alex Saramotin (LAT), Marcel Seiberg (GER), Kanstantsin Sivtsov (BLR), Tejay Van Garderen (USA), Martin Velits (SLO), and Peter Velits (SLO).
- Article published:
- December 11, 2009, 11:30
- Cycling News
Ballarat to host all road titles in 2010
The Australian Criterium Champion jersey will at awarded at January’s Australian Open Road Championships (AORC), with race organiser Caribou Publications confirming the event’s addition to its schedule. The AORC event has previously included the elite men, women and U23 road races, while the criterium race was held elsewhere.
Caribou Publications managing director John Craven said the event’s addition to the AORC schedule would increase the appeal for competitors and spectators alike. “The addition of the criterium category to the championships has added an extra element of appeal for elite riders,” he said. “The field quality so far is shaping as the best ever, which is extremely exciting.”
The Australian Criterium Championship was held at Brisbane's Southbank Parkland in 2007, where Baden Cooke claimed victory. The event was moved in 2008 to the Cronulla Grand Prix, held in Sydney, New South Wales, with Fly V Australia’s Bernard Sulzberger beating Peter Mcdonald to the title. Sulzberger's victory saw the jersey on display in the North American peloton throughout this season.
City of Ballarat Mayor Judy Verlin was enthusiastic about the opportunity for spectators to see criterium racing in her municipality.
“The new format for the championships, with events in both Ballarat and Buninyong, provide great opportunities for spectators to experience elite level cycling up close,” said Verlin. “I encourage local residents and visitors to come to Ballarat and Buninyong and experience all that this prestigious event has to offer.”
Earlier this year Ballarat signed an agreement with Cycling Australia to host the AORC event for a further six years, starting with the 2010 event. January’s event will be the seventh time Ballarat, Victoria has played host to the road nationals.
- Article published:
- December 11, 2009, 13:37
- Shane Stokes
Wiggins move puts spotlight on chasing of riders
The International Cycling Union (UCI) is planning to tighten-up on the contract rules next year, following recent events such as the unexpected jump of Cadel Evans to Team BMC, the transfer of Alexandr Kolobnev from Saxo Bank to Katusha and the chasing of Ben Swift’s signature by the new Team Sky.
UCI President Pat McQuaid told Cyclingnews on that he is 'concerned' at recent developments in this area. McQuaid said the governing body is likely to introduce new rules in 2010 to safeguard the rights of riders and teams alike, in relation to existing contracts.
“There’s been a lot of hullabaloo recently as regards [Ben] Swift and [Alexandr] Kolobnev, and you also have Cadel Evans leaving his team overnight without informing them,” he said. “There are things going on now on both sides - both on the sides of the teams and of the riders – that are of concern. I have given instructions that we need to start looking at it more closely. Perhaps we need to put more rules in there to try to control these scenarios, or make better sense out of them.
“It is not going to change anything for 2010 but I guarantee you that we will be studying a lot of these aspects in the early part of next year,” he added. “The aim will be to ensure that the landscape is a bit more clear next winter than it has been this time round.”
McQuaid referred to the Swift situation as an example. The Briton has one year remaining on his contract with Katusha, but was recently reported as being close to signing with Team Sky. It also named him in its lineup for the Tour Down Under, although the team later claimed that it had believed he was a free agent.
Katusha has complained about the team’s tactics, saying that it is trying to scoop riders who are under contract.
“Under UCI rules, the regulations don’t allow for aggressive chasing of riders, that’s for sure,” said McQuaid. “That is against the spirit of the sport. I mean, I understand if a new team or a new sponsor comes in, and they have got to find riders. But there is a proper way of doing things, and going about things.”
McQuaid appeared to be referring to the Swift scenario when he said: “there may have been some shortcuts taken this time by members of Sky staff which would have started discussions and then hadn’t been followed up by going to the team [concerned], which they should have done in the first place.”
He suggested that the British team had been speaking directly to the rider’s agent without verifying that he was indeed free to move. “It would concern me – the aggressive chasing of riders isn’t a healthy situation,” the Irishman said.
What of Wiggins?
McQuaid played down the suggestion that the Bradley Wiggins move to Team Sky was a similar example, despite the fact that Garmin-Transitions repeatedly said that it did not want to release him a year before his contract ends. He said the fact that the two teams eventually agreed to Wiggins’ transfer satisfied the UCI’s requirement that both sides involved in such a situation must reach an accord.
However Garmin general manager Jonathan Vaughters told Cyclingnews that it was the prospect of a long legal case with Team Sky which led the Garmin squad to reluctantly release the rider, who had finished fourth in this year’s Tour.
“At the end of the day, we came to a settlement because I didn’t think that a lengthy legal battle would be productive to the team that I have,” he said.
He suggested that the various national employment laws in different countries take precedence over the UCI’s own rules, and that the regulations needed to change.
“For me, now that cycling is becoming a more professional sport and a larger sport, there probably needs to be a more formalised reform in regards to transfers,” he said. “That is something that is going to have to come out of a lot of work by the governing body. It is also going to have to come from the agreement of the teams involved.
“There is no formalised and agreed-upon transfer system like there is in soccer, American football and whatever else and so, like the UCI says, they have to bow to the employment laws of any individual country.
“I definitely think changing this is important for the future of cycling, as otherwise it is a very challenging system to work with,” he said.
- Article published:
- December 11, 2009, 13:42
- Hedwig Kröner
Provincial court dismisses appeal to retrieve blood bags
It looks like Operación Puerto, the biggest doping scandal in pro cycling in recent years, is finally over - and a failure. The International Cycling Union (UCI), as well as the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), amongst others, had appealed the Madrid judge's decision according to which the blood bags found by the Guardia Civil could not be released to the international institutions.
But on Friday, the Provincial court of Madrid dismissed the appeal, which would have opened the possibility of officially identifying and sanctioning more riders involved in the case. This decision seems to be final, as Spanish press reports suggest that there are no more recourse possibilities.
The appeal was made after the Madrid criminal court, on April 15 this year, denied delivering the testimonials of the case, or samples of the bags that contained blood, blood plasma and cells, to the anti-doping authorities. The public prosecutor, as well as the UCI, WADA, and the Spanish cycling federation RFEC, appealed this decision in their ongoing bid to make all the identities of the anti-doping violators known and be able open disciplinary proceedings against them.
Their appeal was rejected a first time on June 2, and renewed as more institutions, notably the national and international cycling teams associations, joined in another appeal in July. But now, the decision not to release the case evidence for disciplinary purposes seems final.
Operación Puerto began in May 2006 when the Spanish Civil Guard arrested Madrid doctor Eufemiano Fuentes and Liberty Seguros manager Manolo Saiz, amongst others, after having found massive amounts of doping products and blood doping evidence in an apartment belonging to Fuentes.
The doping ring was said to involve more than 200 athletes, amongst which 34 cyclists were named. Of these, 15 were later acquitted of any wrongdoings, and three admitted their ties to Fuentes.
- Article published:
- December 11, 2009, 15:28
- Laura Weislo
Sky's arrival and Wiggins' departure spur Millar on
Earlier this year, as the transfer season heated up and Team Sky was said to be courting just about ever British rider, the rumour mill was rife with speculation that both Bradley Wiggins and David Millar would move from Garmin-Transitions across to the nascent British team.
While the rumours surrounding Wiggins proved this week to be true, Millar told Cyclingnews that, despite having a close connection to people within Team Sky and its set-up, he would ride out his career with Garmin-Transitions.
"Sky has some of my best friends - Dave [Brailsford] was the guy who looked after me during my ban, he's one of my best friends. My sister is one of the big players in that team as well. So it's funny, the people on the team are quite literally friends and family, but I quite enjoy the fact we're now competing. It gives it another edge, another angle."
Team Sky's long battle to wrestle Wiggins out of the remaining year of his contract with Garmin-Transitions finally ended on Thursday, when team manager Jonathan Vaughters conceded, choosing to say goodbye to his Grand Tour protege rather than face a lengthy legal battle.
After a long morning of phone calls and interviews in which he told the New York Times, "The way the deal went through is very disrespectful, and Brad clearly went after the money, which is sad", Millar seemed resigned to the change when he spoke with Cyclingnews.
Millar likened Team Sky, with massive resources "no other cycling team in the world has ever had", to a Formula 1 team coming into cycling. But with that money comes great pressure to live up to very high expectations, and a good deal of that pressure will be on Wiggins.
"With all the resources they have, they need to live up to what they propose, which is a podium in the Tour de France and being one of the best teams in the world. If they don't do that, in their eyes, they'll have failed."
In contrast, Millar said Garmin-Transitions is under no pressure from its partners, and is free to continue to operate as they have.
"Sky is Sky, it's News Corp, it's Rupert Murdoch - a win at all costs sort of thing. We're part of the culture of cycling ... Their destiny is in their hands. They know it, everything they say in the press, everything the riders do, it's all calculated. They're a clinical team, they base themselves on logic, not emotion. Our biggest detriment as a team is we're very emotionally based.
"We're part of the sport, we love the sport and we understand it. Our sponsors have bought into what we do, they're partners - they've bought into our idea of our sport, cycling, we haven't bought into our sponsor's idea."
Losing Wiggins after the team supported him and groomed him from prologue specialist into GC contender was clearly a blow to both Millar and Vaughters.
"Wiggins was one of the biggest stories of the Tour this year, hats off to Jonathan. When he came on to the team last year, he came on as a prologue rider, but Jonathan saw him as something bigger than that. I thought Wiggins could be a better Classics rider or something like that - never once did I think he could be a GC rider, but Jonathan believed in Bradley beyond anyone else's thoughts. It was a typical JV move."
It won't be long before the season starts and the battle moves from the board room to the road, but the competition between Sky and Garmin is not just on the bike, but in the culture of cycling itself, something Millar believes Sky desires to change.
"I don't think Sky will have competition with anybody - they'll be in competition with themselves. I know that's how they operate. As far as they're concerned, they're coming in to change the sport - to make it different.
"But this is our world, I know it better than they do and so does Jonathan. I hope for their benefit they can achieve what they want to."
- Article published:
- December 11, 2009, 18:03
- Gregor Brown
Lance Armstrong helped Contador gain experience on way to Tour de France win
Spain's Alberto Contador is ready to handle the stress of winning a third Tour de France. Team Astana's star, in a press conference today in Pisa, Italy, said that he learned from the problems with Lance Armstrong at this year's Tour.
"I learned how to handle the stress and those situations, because at the Tour you always give a lot and have to manage your energy well. I think this will serve me, it helps me to mature and to remain cool," said Contador.
Contador is taking part in a weeklong training camp with the 2010 Astana team in Pisa. The team road for four hours today and ended with a visit to Pisa's leaning tower.
The relaxed atmosphere is different from the difficulties that came along with Contador's second Tour win in July. He raced alongside Armstrong at the Tour, but the two were uneasy with each other and their relationship formed a split in the team.
Armstrong left with team manager Johan Bruyneel to form RadioShack. The two have criticised Contador since the Tour ended, saying he let stardom go to his head. Contador said that what they said did not bother him.
"Not at all," continued Contador. "I want to think about the sporting aspects and not the polemics. For me 2009 is over now and I want to think about training and my own goals.
"Could we become friends in the future? In sport, you can never say never. I know that during the Tour things were difficult, but in the future no one knows."
Team Manager Yvon Sanquer joined the team after Bruyneel and Armstrong left to form RadioShack. Though Contador lost all of the riders that helped him win the Tour, he believes that the team Sanquer created can support him.
"This team does not have many big names, but you need to see the team on the road before speaking about it. It will be very different to ride thinking about just one leader."
Contador said that Benjamin Noval, Jesús Hernández and Daniel Navarro are his most trusted teammates. Alexander Vinokourov, with the new signings of Paolo Tiralongo, David De La Fuente, Andriy Grivko and Gorazd Stangelj, will be strong supporting riders for the Tour de France, he added.
"We've got fewer big names in the team than in 2009, but we're stronger because we're united. I've only been with the whole team for a few days, but I'm very happy and I have a good impression. They're all motivated and they want to ride well for the team."
Contador returns to his home in Pinto, Spain, Sunday. He will join his teammates for a second training camp in Spain in January and then start his season at the Volta ao Algarve, February 17 to 21.