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First Edition Cycling News, Friday, February 19, 2010

Date published:
February 19, 2010, 0:00 GMT
  • Turtur praises record-breaking Tour Down Under

    Race director Mike Turtur and SA Premier Mike Rann
    Article published:
    February 19, 2010, 8:13 GMT
    Cycling News

    Government releases preliminary economic impact statement

    Tour Down Under race director Mike Turtur described the 2010 edition of the Australian ProTour race as the biggest and best in its 12 year history following the release of a preliminary economic impact statement from the South Australian Government. Research performed independently by McGregor Tan found the event had set new records in all of the measured indexes, including delivering the South Australia a $41.5 million economic impact.

    “The 2010 Santos Tour Down Under was the biggest and best in the event’s history, with record crowds, public participation and economic impact,” said Turtur. “We’ve been blown away by the success of the race, which this year fielded the strongest group of riders in its history.

    “People came out in force to watch the likes of Lance Armstrong, Cadel Evans, Andre Greipel and Robbie McEwen,” he added. “World Champion Cadel Evans didn’t disappoint fans with his attacking ride on Old Willunga Hill during Jayco Stage 5, in what was one of the best races the Tour has seen.”

    Initial attendance figures were upwardly revised to 770,500, up 10,000 on the figure from a year earlier when Armstrong made his return from retirement at the event. Event specific visitors had also increased, while numbers in the race’s associated cyclo-sportif grew from 7127 in 2009 to 8099 this year.

  • UCI's Continental teams list shrinks

    Race leaders Rock Racing had a lot on the line, so it put its entire team at the front of the line to preserve it.
    Article published:
    February 19, 2010, 9:15 GMT
    Cycling News

    No Rock Racing-Murcia on the list - yet

    The UCI announced its list of Continental men's teams for the 2010 season, listing 122 squads registered worldwide for the sport's lowest rank of professional teams. Not present on the list is the rumoured merger of the Rock Racing and Contentpolis-Murcia squads, but a International Cycling Union (UCI) spokesman said the final decision on the team's license has yet to be made.

    While the number of teams in cycling's top two levels, the ProTour and Professional Continental ranks, have remained constant, the third division shrank considerably this year, down 9 from 2009 and 14 from the peloton's peak in 2007.

    While three teams moved up into the Pro Continental ranks - CCC Polsat, Saur-Sojasun and Carmiooro NGC and one team downgraded (PSK Whirlpool), the number of teams folding has far outstripped the number of squads formed.

    30 teams either vanished or left the professional ranks at the end of 2009, while only 23 new teams formed.

    Australia took the biggest hit: after having nine professional teams in 2009, this year only four have kept their status and no new teams have emerged.

    The US peloton remained largely static: the DLP Racing Team and Land Rover-Orbea teams called it quits, but the Adageo and Bahati Foundation teams stepped up to keep the number of US teams constant.

    Not even the cycling hotbed, Belgium, was spared from the cutbacks. Three teams disappeared there, while only one new team - Qin - has been started.

    Reflecting the UCI's push to globalize cycling, many of the newly formed teams are in non-traditional cycling countries. Brazil, China, Iran, Korea, Poland, Croatia and Serbia all added new teams.

  • Contador feeling good after testing legs in Algarve

    Alberto Contador (Astana) back to racing for the 2010 season
    Article published:
    February 19, 2010, 9:33 GMT
    Peter Cossins

    Spaniard believes rebuilt Astana still has strong core

    It’s been six months since Alberto Contador last turned a pedal in anger, apart from criteriums and invitation races. This week’s Tour of the Algarve has seen the Spaniard making his first competitive steps towards the defence of the Tour de France title he claimed last July in what promises to be an epic Tour pitting him against Lance Armstrong, the brothers Schleck, Bradley Wiggins and a number of dark horses.

    Speaking to Cyclingnews after his first day of racing at the Algarve, the 27-year-old Astana rider said he is pleased to be back. An attack very late on in that first stage as the sprinters were preparing for their final fling underlined the relish Contador clearly feels about being back in the saddle after some very difficult times for his Astana team.

    “It was just a test, just a way of seeing how my legs felt, to find out what the sensations were,” he said. “I felt very good.”

    Good is also how he feels about the latest reincarnation of the Astana team. Apparently on its last legs when Armstrong and team manager Johan Bruyneel secured backing from RadioShack and took many of Astana’s riders along with them as the Kazakh-backed outfit looked set to implode, the team has undergone its second major overhaul and Contador is pleased with how it is shaping up.

    “The atmosphere in the team is great, it’s very relaxed, there are lots of new guys but we all get on very well. There’s lots of joking and laughing between us. On the road too I’m very happy with them,” said Contador.

    Asked about the widely stated observation that the team lacks strength in depth, Contador admits: “We may not have the riders here to enable to us to compete in all the major tours, but we have a very strong core group for the Tour. And it was good on today’s stage to see how well the team worked. I was pleased to see how well they worked for me, keeping me...

  • Seeldraeyers' heart problem diagnosis wrong

    Kevin Seeldraeyers (Quick Step) leads the young rider classification.
    Article published:
    February 19, 2010, 9:34 GMT
    Cycling News

    No heart disease for the young Belgian talent

    Kevin Seeldraeyers had a bad scare over the winter, when he was told that he had suspected heart problems which could force him to quit racing. But the diagnosis was wrong, much to the relief of the Quick Step rider.

    The 23-year-old underwent a routine check at a hospital, and was told he had an enlarged heart. A heart muscle disease was feared, and he was told to stop racing.

    Seeldraeyers therefore trained less the last two weeks. “With that diagnosis in mind, I didn't go too deeply. I usually did not train more than one or two hours, but that was partly because of the weather in Belgium.”

    The Belgian, who last year won the best young rider ranking at both Paris-Nice and the Giro d'Italia,
    is currently riding the Volta ao Algarve as his first race of the year. Paris-Nice is once again on his calendar, “but I suspect I won't have high ambitions there.”

  • O'Grady and Cooke headline inaugural Mumbai Cyclothon

    Cycling in Mumbai is mainly for transportation, but a race in India could change that.
    Article published:
    February 19, 2010, 10:50 GMT
    Hedwig Kröner

    Indian professional race aims for ProTour status within five years

    Professional cycling's global expansion will continue this weekend as one of the world's greatest economic powers plays host to its first-ever pro race on Sunday, February 21. The Mumbai Cyclothon, or Tour of Bombay, is a one-day criterium in the Indian megalopole that will cover 100 kilometres.

    The 120 rider peloton will include Saxo Bank professionals Stuart O'Grady and Baden Cooke, with Estonian sprinter Jaan Kirsipuu to compete as a member of the LeTua cycling team. Trek-Livestrong rider Charlie Avis has also been confirmed for the event and will race as part of a composite Mumbai All-stars team that will also include Olympic gold medallist Scott McGrory.

    ProTour teams Saxo Bank and Cervélo TestTeam will take part in the event, alongside Continental squads CKT-Champion System, Glud&Marstrand Horsens, Giant Asia, LeTua and Marco Polo. Indian and Malaysian national teams will also line-up for the event.

    The event has been recognized by the International Cycling Union (UCI) as a Cat. 1.2 race and is chaperoned by Eddy Merckx. On a circuit of 2.8 kilometres that will be raced 36 times, the peloton will fight for intermediate sprints every five laps. The winner pocket a first prize of US$50,000 (36,400 Euros).

    Race director David McQuaid, son of the UCI president Pat McQuaid, described the task of designing a course within the tight streets of Mumbai as "challenging", but was confident the event will deliver a high standard of racing.

    With a population of over 1 billion people, organisers are hopeful the race will not only increase interest in pro cycling in India, but also promote the health benefits of the sport. The professional criterium will take place alongside a number of other races designed for amateur riders and children. Registrations for these support events have already reached 10,000.

    "I really hope that this race will develop the culture of cycling in India," said Pat McQuaid.

  • Dauphiné Libéré to start in Evian

    The final podium of the Dauphiné Libéré (L-R) Alberto Contador (Astana), Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne) and Cadel Evans (Silence - Lotto). Stef Clement (Rabobank).
    Article published:
    February 19, 2010, 11:36 GMT
    Hedwig Kröner

    ASO tightens its grip on French race calendar

    This year's Critérium du Dauphiné Libéré will start in the Alpine mountain town of Evian on June 6, 2010. According to French, whose information comes from a source close to the race organisation, the beautiful city on the borders of Lake Geneva will again welcome the Dauphiné peloton, having hosted the race's prologue on five previous occasions.

    The decision to begin the week-long stage race in Evian is a return to recent tradition after its prologue had been moved to Nancy, in eastern France last year. Based in Nancy, the EBRA press group that owned the race has this winter given a mandate to Tour de France owner Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO) to organise the 2010 event, and sold the race to ASO as of 2011.

    The further itinerary of the 2010 Dauphiné is yet to be announced, but some information as to the finale of the event was leaked in October: On Friday, June 11, the race will reach Grenoble, before a summit finish on L'Alpe d'Huez the next day. The race will end in Sallanches on Sunday.

    With the aquisition of the Dauphiné, ASO's monopoly on high-profile pro races in France has edged closer to 100 per cent. The only French ProTour race that is not organised by ASO is now the Grand Prix de Plouay.

    The 2009 edition of the Dauphiné Libéré was won by Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne). The Spaniard finished 16 seconds clear of Cadel Evans (Silence-Lotto) and 1:18 ahead of 2009 Tour de France Champion Alberto Contador (Astana).

  • Alejandro Valverde to skip Tour du Haut Var

    Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne)
    Article published:
    February 19, 2010, 14:10 GMT
    Richard Tyler

    French weather forces Spaniard to revise February race programme

    Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne) has withdrawn from this weekend's Tour Haut Var due to the continuation of cold conditions across southern France.

    The Spaniard last week won the overall title at the Tour Méditerranéen in the region near to the Provence area where the two-stage Haut Var will be held. Despite his success at Méditerranéen, Valverde said the challenging conditions of the event had caused him to re-think his February race schedule.

    "I would have liked to participate [in Haut Var] because the profile of both the stages is suited to me but after the Méditerranéen Tour, which was rather exhausting because of the cold weather, it is wiser to stop a little bit before starting competing again," said Valverde on his personal website.

    Valverde will train at home before a return to competition at the one-day Clásica de Almería in southern Spain on February 28.

    Valverde is currently ranked seventh on the International Cycling Union's individual ProTour rankings. His success in France last week followed participation in the ProTour calendar opener, the Tour Down Under, where he finished 19th overall.

  • Changes made to Giro d'Italia's third stage

    Stefano Garzelli, Alessandro Petacchi, Damiano Cunego, Denis Menchov, Filippo Pozzato, Alessandro Ballan were all at the 2010 Giro d'Italia presentation.
    Article published:
    February 19, 2010, 14:11 GMT
    Richard Tyler

    Dutch officials forced to remove The Hague and Rijswijk, stage extended

    Dutch officials have announced changes to the route of the 2010 Giro d'Italia's third stage from Amsterdam to Middelberg. The race will now bypass the Dutch towns of The Hague and Rijswijk, with changes also made to the finish in Middelberg.

    The Hague and Rijswijk were part of the original stage route announced by Giro organiser RCS last October, however, according to regional news website Dutch officials have decided to alter the route due to high infrastructure costs that would be required to prepare the towns for the May event.

    The changes will see the peloton cover an extra 15 kilometres for a stage total of 224 kilometres. It also means the stage is now the second longest of the 2010 Giro, with stage 11 from Lucera to L’Aquila in Italy to eclipse it by a further 32 kilometres (256 km total).

    Organisers of the stage have also made changes to the route the peloton will follow in their approach to the finale. However, the stage will still conclude at the scheduled point on the Route Dam in central Middelberg.

    The stage will set a record for the flattest stage in Giro d'Italia history, as it will drop below sea level on a number of occasions when it takes place on May 10.

    The 2010 Giro begins on May 8 with a prologue in the Dutch capital of Amsterdam. The second and third stages of the race will remain wholly within the Netherlands before a rest day and transfer to Italy on May 11.