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First Edition Cycling News, Friday, December 31, 2010

Date published:
December 31, 2010, 0:00 GMT
  • Bronzini regrets women's cycling lack of growth

    Giorgia Bronzini (Italy) is the road world champion, but the track was where she first made her name with a world title in the points race.
    Article published:
    December 30, 2010, 14:55 GMT
    Barry Ryan

    World champion acknowledges team's role in victory

    World road champion Giorgia Bronzini has expressed her regret that women's cycling hasn't grown in popularity in spite of a rise in its quality, especially in Italy.

    "There's a bit of anger and also some regret [when I compare women's cycling to men's cycling]," Bronzini told Tg5. "For at least the last four years, Italian women's cycling has showcased great things, but the environment hasn't grown as much as its athletes have done."

    Bronzini took the rainbow jersey in October with a rapid sprint finish in Geelong, Australia. She had already finished third in 2007 and admitted that her shout as she crossed the line was one of liberation. However, the Piacenza woman was also keen to highlight that hers was a team victory.

    "I looked for my teammates straightaway to thank them because once again the Italian women's team showed that together we can do a lot of things," she said. "Cycling should not only be viewed as an individual sport. As far as I'm concerned, the team is important."

    Bronzini also revealed the story behind her trademark lip piercing and explained that she is likely to keep it for the rest of her career.

    "I got it done in Los Angeles, in Hollywood," Bronzini said. "It was at one of the first track World Cup meets that I competed in and I'd promised myself that if I won a medal I'd get a piercing and that's how it turned out.

    "I don't know [when I'll take it out]. Maybe when I stop racing, it's a bit of a lucky charm."

  • Record field for Australian Open Road Championships

    Travis Meyer (Garmin-Transitions) is Australian champion.
    Article published:
    December 31, 2010, 5:08 GMT
    Cycling News

    Pros make national titles a priority in 2011

    Organisers of the Australian Open Road Championships are pleased with the total of 686 entries across the elite men's, women's and U23 men's events at next year's titles - to be held January 6-11 - which represents an increase of 13 percent on that seen in 2010.

    All fields boast a plethora of stars, with the road race events attracting the cream of Australia's road cycling talent. The elite men's road race has attracted a 158-rider startlist, with the likes of RadioShack rider Robbie McEwen, Saxo Bank's Richie Porte, Comonwealth Games gold medalist Allan Davis, exciting neo-pro Will Clarke and Team Sky's Simon Gerrans lining up in Ballarat.

    The women's road race will see Delhi Commonwealth Games road race medalists Rochelle Gilmore and Chloe Hosking line up, while another member of that Australian team, Vicki Whitelaw, will also start. Mountain biker Rowena Fry makes a transition from the dirt to the road, whilst Hosking's HTC-Highroad teammate, Judith Arndt, will undoubtedly keep the women honest with her attacking racing style.

    In addition to Arndt there are several international riders amongst the three road races, with Ben Swift joining his Team Sky teammates Gerrans, Mat Hayman and Chris Sutton while Koen De Kort and Floris Goesinnen will be helping Skil-Shimano teammate Mitchell Docker in his bid for green-and-gold glory.

    Current U23 men's road race world champion Michael Matthews will line up for the road race and time trial while defending Australian men's time trial national champion Cameron Meyer returns for another shot at the jersey.

    The criteriums promise to be exciting affairs across all three categories, with similar fields to those of the road races, as the likes of McEwen, Davis and co try their luck against Jonathan Cantwell, Bernard Sulzberger and Ben Kersten in the elite men's event. In the women's race defending champion Carly Light is back to take on Hosking and experienced sprinter Kirsty Broun for...

  • Chérel suffers training accident

    French rider Mikael Cherel
    Article published:
    December 31, 2010, 9:12 GMT
    Hedwig Kröner

    AG2R La Mondiale rider replaced by Perget at Tour Down Under

    AG2R La Mondiale's Mickaël Chérel suffered several injuries when he collided with a truck during a training ride on Thursday. The truck had stopped on the descent of the Col du Tanneron in south east France, and the Frenchman hit the vehicle head on.

    Chérel is reported to be suffering from whiplash and will not be able to participate in the upcoming Tour Down Under in Australia. The former FDJ rider will be replaced by Matthieu Perget, who is also new to the team managed by Vincent Lavenu.

    Chérel has to rest for at least ten days before medical examinations will determine when he'll be able to return to competition. Nonetheless, his presence at the team's last pre-season training camp in Aups, South-East France, from January 11-20, is not in doubt.

  • 2011 Paris-Nice to include second time trial?

    The peloton rides by the Promenade des Anglais in Nice
    Article published:
    December 31, 2010, 10:05 GMT
    Hedwig Kröner

    "Race to the sun" takes shape

    While Paris-Nice organiser Amaury Sports Organisation (ASO) has not yet revealed the road map of next season's Paris-Nice, French websites are speculating about probable start and finish locations. According to cycling news website Cyclism'Actu, the "Race to the sun" planned to take place from March 6-13, may include a second individual time trial in Aix-en-Provence mid-race, after the first traditional prologue, which will probably be held in Houdan, west of Paris.

    Blog website Paris.Thover has assembled more information. According to this specialist in tracking down future race courses, stage one on March 7 will start in Monfort-l'Amaury and finish in Amilly, where Paris-Nice had a start in 2009. A 20km circuit course around Amilly, to be raced three times before the finish, is also said to be on the menu.

    Stage two is rumoured to be set to run between Cosne-Cours-sur-Loire and Nuits-Saint-Georges, offering good opportunities for breakaways. The following day is rumoured to see the first mountain test on a stage starting in Crêches-sur-Saône and finishing in Belleville: the Col du Fût d'Avenas, a 6km climb averaging 4.7 percent gradient (10.1 max.), is set to warm up the climbers' legs for the challenges coming up on the Côte d'Azur.

    But before reaching the Mediterranean coastal mountains, the bunch may stop in Aix-en-Provence for a time trial, which would be unusual for Paris-Nice. If true, it may be the attempt of the organiser to balance out the course and attract more high-profile stage race riders.

    While the organiser has given no information about stages four and five, the penultimate day will see the field start out in Brignoles to finish in Biot. The final stage will be the now traditional loop around Nice, and will again include the Col de La Turbie and the legendary Col d'Eze, before the race finale on the Promenade des Anglais.

  • Ryan poised to sponsor new Australian team

    The Aussie are out to support Evans, McEwen and the other seven.
    Article published:
    December 31, 2010, 10:39 GMT
    Barry Ryan

    Announcement expected at Tour Down Under

    Cycling Australia’s largest sponsor has confirmed that he is part of a group considering backing a top-level Australian team in the near future. Gerry Ryan, owner of Jayco caravans, is expected to make an announcement during the Tour Down Under (January 18-23).

    “It's not only me. There are several high-profile businessmen around that have been talking to each other," Ryan told The Sydney Morning Herald. “To be sitting in Paris [at the Tour de France] and have that Australian flag on a team car would be ideal.”

    Ryan’s interest comes as a boost to Australian cycling in the wake of the ambitious Pegasus Sports project’s failure to obtain a ProTeam licence for 2011. Pegasus Sports chief executive Chris White ultimately failed to secure sufficient sponsorship for his team.

    “I admire what [White] has done. Unfortunately he was let down at the 11th hour,” Ryan said. “Hopefully he can regroup and get back up and get a licence. He's broken a lot of ground, worked very hard. I have a lot of respect for what he's tried to achieve.”

    Ryan also explained that the Sky template of a ProTeam with close links to a national federation is one that any new Australian team would be likely to follow. He believes such a model would be of benefit in the development of young Australian talent.

    "That's a model you try and benchmark yourself on,” Ryan said. “It's no different to [Australian Rules team] Collingwood, the guns in nurturing bloods. Look at some of the sports science they are doing to get that edge."

    It is no surprise, therefore, that Shayne Bannan is understood to be involved in the setting up of the team. Bannan this week resigned as Cycling Australia’s national performance director. Ryan credited Bannan’s role in attracting him to become Cycling Australia’s main sponsor.

    “I have always been impressed by Shayne...

  • Bruyneel appeal dismissed by CAS

    RadioShack team manager Johan Bruyneel in Calpe, Spain.
    Article published:
    December 31, 2010, 11:38 GMT
    Barry Ryan

    Belgian will sit out February and March

    RadioShack manager Johan Bruyneel will not be allowed to work on races in February and March 2011 after the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) dismissed an appeal against the timing of his suspension.

    Bruyneel was suspended for two months and fined 10,000 Swiss Francs after his RadioShack riders wore an alternative kit on the final stage of the Tour de France without first seeking UCI clearance to do so. While the Belgian accepted the length of his suspension, on December 16 he appealed to CAS that the suspension be brought forward by a month and begin on January 1.

    After an accelerated arbitration procedure, CAS rejected Bruyneel’s appeal. He will now be free to work on the Tour Down Under, which is understood to be Lance Armstrong’s final international race for RadioShack. However, Bruyneel will then miss the first two months of the European season, returning to the team car on April 1.

    Bruyneel was handed the two-month suspension when his RadioShack team wore jerseys advertising Lance Armstrong’s Livestrong foundation on the final stage of the Tour de France. The stage was delayed as the riders had to change into their regulation kit, although the RadioShack team appeared on the podium after the stage wearing the contentious kit.

    The affair was then compounded when Bruyneel used his Twitter account to launch an invective against the UCI commissaires, saying “Now it’s official! To be a race commissar [sic] you don’t need brains but only know the rules! Their motto: ‘c’est le reglement!’”

    In spite of a subsequent apology for his broadside, Bruyneel was sanctioned for his role in the incident.

    Bruyneel had appealed only the timing of his suspension. He noted that Carlos Barredo (Quick Step) was also given a two-month suspension (for fighting during the Tour), but that the Spaniard's ban was for January and February. Bruyneel thought that the two...

  • Riccò trains in Tuscany

    Riccardo Riccò (Vacansoleil) knows that it is a long road back to the Giro d'Italia.
    Article published:
    December 31, 2010, 12:31 GMT
    Barry Ryan

    Italian unsure of post-Giro programme

    Riccardo Riccò (Vacansoleil-DCM) escaped the cold weather near his home in Modena to train on the Tuscan coast during the Christmas period. The Italian rider accepted an invitation from the organisers of the G.P. Camaiore to train in the Versilia area in recent days.

    “It was a rise in temperature of at least ten degrees compared to the conditions I faced on the roads at home,” Riccò explained to “It was an opportunity that I took gladly and one that allowed me to get in some profitable training at a little over a month from my competitive start to the season.”

    Riccò’s Vacansoleil team successfully secured a ProTeam licence for 2011, meaning that the Italian is set to return to the major tours for the first time since he tested positive for CERA at the 2008 Tour de France. While Riccò seems certain to ride the Giro d’Italia in May, he explained that his calendar for the second half of the season has not yet been drawn up.

    “The programme for next season hasn’t been defined yet, especially the second part of the season, after the Giro d’Italia,” Riccò explained. “I will talk about it with the team management at the next training camp that starts on January 10 in Spain.”

    One race that may well feature in Riccò’s summer plans is the G.P. Camaiore. It was one of his final races in Ceramica Flaminia colours in 2010 ahead of his late-season switch to Vacansoleil, and he is keen to compete again in the coming season.

    “Certainly, the GP Camaiore has a very testing course and one that is suit to my characteristics,” he said. “For my part, I’ll do all I can to be at the start.”


  • Merckx not convinced by Contador's defence

    Eddy Merckx gives Fabian Cancellara his AIJC award
    Article published:
    December 31, 2010, 15:55 GMT
    Barry Ryan

    Belgian legend praises Gilbert and Cancellara in 2010

    Eddy Merckx has said that he is not convinced by Alberto Contador’s defence against his adverse analytical finding for Clenbuterol at the 2010 Tour de France.

    Contador is currently waiting for a verdict in the case and has claimed that the traces of Clenbuterol discovered in his urine were caused by contaminated meat that he consumed during the race.

    “I’m not passing any judgements on the man or on the consequences,” Merckx told Le Soir. “Frankly I don’t know what is going to happen but the explanations given by Contador seem lightweight and not very credible to me.”

    Regardless of the eventual outcome of the Contador case, Merckx admits that the affair has cast a pall over the entire year in cycling, particularly given Contador’s status.

    “2010 would have been a great vintage without the Contador affair,” Merckx said. “The biggest event of the season was decapitated by this happening. You’ll tell me that there is a scandal practically every year, but here it involves the head of the world rankings, the triple winner of the Tour, it’s not small.”

    Looking ahead to the coming year, Merckx reckons that Andy Schleck is likely to be the man to beat at the Tour de France. However, he sees room for improvement on Schleck’s 2010 performances and feels that the significance of his slipped chain on the Porte de Bales has been somewhat overstated.

    “He also lost the Tour in Rotterdam where his prologue wasn’t at the level of a candidate for overall victory,” Merckx said, although he believes Schleck’s time is coming. “With or without Contador, Andy will win the Tour some day.”

    Gilbert and Cancellara: kings of spring

    Merckx only had words of praise for the 2010 Classics and credited two men in particular for setting such a high standard in the spring.