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First Edition Cycling News, Friday, January 13, 2012

Date published:
January 13, 2012, 0:00 GMT
  • Gallery: Liquigas-Cannondale presented in Milan

    The 2012 Liquigas-Cannondale line-up.
    Article published:
    January 12, 2012, 18:10 GMT
    Cycling News

    Will Basso or Nibali lead team at Giro d'Italia?

    The Liquigas-Cannondale squad was presented at the headquarters of Citroen Italia in Milan on Thursday, but it remains to be seen whether Ivan Basso or Vincenzo Nibali will be in the driving seat at the 2012 Giro d’Italia.

    After skipping the Giro to focus on the Tour de France last year, Basso has already confirmed that he will return to the corsa rosa this season, but his teammate Nibali has thrown his hat into the ring in recent weeks. Team manager Roberto Amadio has clear ideas about who should be behind the wheel in May, but he insisted that the riders would have their say.

    “We’ve studied the routes of the grand tours and it’s clear that the Giro is better suited to Ivan while the Tour, with 100km of time trialling, is better for Vincenzo,” Amadio said. “But it’s clear that we also have to listen to our athletes’ desires and Vincenzo has told us that he wants to ride the Giro d’Italia. After the Classics we will evaluate his condition and take the final decision.”

    Basso explained that his early-season preparation will be similar to 2010, when he went on the capture his second Giro d’Italia victory. “It’s my big objective for the first part of the season and my programme is very like the one I had in 2009 and 2010,” he said.

    The veteran was also adamant that he would be happy to have Nibali alongside him at the Giro, as was the case two years ago when both men finished on the podium in Verona. “We’ll follow two different programmes and then the staff will decide, but certainly having him alongside me would be a big advantage.

    “I’m the first to recognise...

  • Champion System Pro Cycling Team launched

    Presented at a ceremony in Beijing, the Champion System Pro Cycling Team features 18 athletes from 10 countries.
    Article published:
    January 12, 2012, 20:19 GMT
    Cycling News

    Asian-based Pro Continental squad presented in Beijing

    The presentation of the Champion System Pro Cycling Team Wednesday in Beijing was not only the first introduction of the squad to the world, it also illustrated the world of opportunities representing the new venture.

    With 18 athletes from 10 countries, the Champion System team embodies a number of firsts in competitive cycling: the first Asian-based Pro Continental squad, and the first time a cycling apparel company is both the owner and title sponsor of an elite international team.

    "From day one, we have always supported cyclists throughout Asia and now we have decided to take that support to the next level," Louis Shih, executive manager of the Champion System Pro Cycling Team, said. "As the owner and title sponsor of the team, we are excited to see our elite athletes compete against the world's top professional cyclists while at the same time developing future Chinese stars in the sport of cycling."

    The Champion System squad is comprised of riders from China, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Australia, New Zealand, Belgium, Germany, Switzerland, Estonia and the United States. While the team will contest all the major races in Asia - such as the Tour of Langkawi and the Tour of Beijing - a main goal of General Manager Ed Beamon will be to expose his eight Asian prospects to top-tier racing in Europe and North America.

    "We're about to embark on a historic journey and it is thanks to Champion System, the Chinese Cycling Association and all our sponsors, especially Fuji," Beamon said.

    The way Beamon describes it, the Champion System team is opening a new frontier for professional cycling. Along the way, that means opportunities for western and southern hemisphere riders are being created, but the biggest opportunities are for Asian riders, Beamon said.

    "For the first time in the history of the sport there is an opportunity for a group of Asian riders to have the opportunity to race against the best riders in the world all over...

  • Expecting Olympian Willock to sit out 2012 season

    Erinne Willock (Tibco) tried to counter attack when te breakwas caught, but without success
    Article published:
    January 12, 2012, 20:45 GMT
    Cycling News

    Canadian due to give birth in mid-July

    2008 Olympian and 2012 Olympic hopeful road cyclist Erinne Willock of Canada announced on Tuesday that she will put her Olympic dreams on hold as she and husband Tony Zarsadias are expecting the birth of her first child, only days before the start of the 2012 Olympic Games in London.

    "The last couple months have been quite a bit different than I had envisioned since the last Olympics. To say I've switched gears is a big understatement. I have very quickly gone from having complete focus for the 2012 Olympic year to now having a healthy and happy pregnancy being my new and exciting reality," said Willock, who competed for Canada at the 2008 Olympic Summer Games in Beijing and at the 2006 and 2010 Commonwealth Games.

    Willock, an integral member of the Canadian Women's Road Cycling Team, boasts an impressive cycling resume, which includes several victories on the professional racing circuit and many Top 10 at UCI World Cups throughout her career.

    "I will definitely miss racing in 2012, as this is such an important year. Nevertheless, I'll be cheering on my teammates from both Team TIBCO and the Canadian Cycling Team. You can be sure that I'll be glued to my computer and TV checking the latest results, race reports and live coverage. There is so much depth in women's cycling right now, especially Canadian Cycling, that it will be a great year to be a fan," said Willock.

    Speaking to her teammates of the Canadian Cycling Team, Willock is confident that Canada will thrive at the 2012 Olympic Games in London, this summer and bring home some medals.

    "To my teammates on the Canadian Cycling Team, I want to wish you all the best of luck! I am very excited to watch you all excel. For those who are vying for those precious spots on the Olympic Team for London, I hope you enjoy the experience, and more importantly have medals to bring home to show me!"

    Denise Kelly,...

  • Video: The challenges for mechanics at the Tour Down Under

    Spanners, pliers anything Tisma needs to get the job done
    Article published:
    January 13, 2012, 8:23 GMT
    Jane Aubrey

    What Team Sky has on hand in Adelaide

    The Tour Down Under, held in Adelaide, Australia is around 16,000 kilometres from Team Sky's service course in Belgium.

    The first race of the UCI WorldTour has the potential to be an expensive one for competitors and so teams generally try to keep their equipment to around the 400 kilo mark. Compare that to the 6000 kilograms of equipment that is in most team trucks in Europe and it's obvious that team are travelling light for the first race of the year.

    In this video, Sky mechanic Filip Tisma talks us through what he has on hand in Adelaide to keep the team running as smoothly as possible along with the practicalities. This is his second trip to the Australian stage race and past experience has paid off. \

    In 2012, he has just one groupset on hand at the race, compared to the five he usually has in Europe. Sky are also travelling with half the amount of race wheels with 29 sets on hand, for the two Pinarellos available for each rider.

    Click on the video below to get the full rundown from Tisma, along with a tour of his working environment at the Tour Down Under village.


  • Stannard looking for big improvement in 2012

    Ian Stannard (Sky) outsprints his four breakaway companions to earn his first win as a professional.
    Article published:
    January 13, 2012, 10:59 GMT
    Mark Robinson

    Young Team Sky rider maturing on and off the road

    Speaking to Cyclingnews at Team Sky's winter training camp on the Spanish island of Mallorca, Ian Stannard has revealed that he is ready to translate the big strides that he has made in recent weeks onto the road when his season gets underway next month. The 24-year-old from Chelmsford, England, enjoyed the best year of his career to date in 2011. A stage victory at the Tour of Austria and a late season top five finish at Paris-Tours were the highlights, while he was also part of Sky's Vuelta team that helped deliver podium spots for Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome. And sandwiched in between all that was a crucial role for Team GB at the Road World Championships where new Team Sky colleague Mark Cavendish took gold.

    "I’d say I’m in considerably better shape now than I was this time last year," he said. "I think there’s several reasons for that. I’m settling into the team more and the team is finding its way more too with regards to coaching. Also I’ve grown up more as a person and the experience I gained in the Vuelta last year has helped to shape my winter training.

    "I had a couple of crashes in training towards the end of last year so when I arrived here in Majorca for our initial stint in December I was a little bit behind the other guys. But I really committed over Christmas and I am seeing the benefits now, especially in my power output."

    Being at the Team Sky training camp has really given Stannard the hunger to get started, and finding himself surrounded by experienced teammates such as Juan Antonio Flecha and Jeremy Hunt offers a valuable...

  • UCI, WADA condemn criticism of CAS Contador hearing

    Article published:
    January 13, 2012, 11:17 GMT
    Cycling News

    Agencies maintain the court's integrity

    Both the UCI and the WADA have criticised reports this week concerning the Alberto Contador case before the Court of Arbitration for Sport.  With the Court's decision expected next week, various press reports this week have questioned the judges' objectivity.

    Leopard Trek owner Flavio Becca started the controversy by suggesting a relationship between the fact that Contador's team, Saxo Bank, recently held a training camp in Israel, and the fact that the head judge on his case is an Israeli.

    “These are two facts that cannot be separated.  At this point I think everything is already decided,” Becca said.

    The CAS then took the unusual step of denying any such prejudice on the part of its judges.

    On January 11, the AP reported that WADA lawyers nearly walked out of the hearing last November when the CAS denied oral testimony from anti-doping expert Michael Ashenden.

    Both agencies expressed their belief in the integrity of the process in separate statements issued late this week.

    The WADA “wants to clarify that during the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) hearing into the case of Alberto Contador at no stage did WADA challenge any member of the panel for a lack of independence,” it said. 

    The UCI “condemns” the publication of the stories this week, and “formally declares that none of its representatives have been involved in any way in this action which it deems incompatible with the good order of court proceedings."

    The UCI confirms that it will continue to respect due confidentiality and the legal rights of all parties. Further the UCI...

  • Gallery: Cavendish and Sky practice leadouts

    Mark Cavendish gets dressed ahead of the ride
    Article published:
    January 13, 2012, 12:03 GMT
    Cycling News

    British team in Mallorca for training camp

    Team Sky is making the most of the warm weather and the variety of terrain on the picturesque Spanish island of Majorca this winter, as our exclusive gallery from their training camp shows.

    The British team are in the middle of their second stint here, having had a large block of training in the northern resort of Alcudia before the Christmas break. With a team of mechanics, doctors, nutritionists, masseurs and coaches here every base is covered. The team chef has even taken over the kitchen in the hotel, ensuring that all the food the riders eat is carefully monitored.

    Majorca is an ideal place to train and offers opportunities for climbing, rolling rides and flatter speed-based rides. There was a focus on lead-out training yesterday, as you will see from the gallery, while today the team are off on a serious climb that will test out the quads and the lungs to the maximum.

    The mood in the camp is largely relaxed, with games of pool going on during leisure hours and plenty of banter during meal times. The camaraderie between the team will be a pleasing sign for the coaching staff and all of the riders have so far agreed that team spirit is at an all time high within the fledgling team. The business done in the off-season has been crucial to this, with contract extensions to important incumbents complemented by key new faces that have settled in quickly. And the coaching staff are steadfastly implementing the riders’ collective and individual targets, preaching the need for patience and careful piecemeal planning.

    Yet there is also an inescapable sense that the riders are desperate to be unleashed and test themselves against each other and the rest of the world in proper race conditions. 2012 is set to be the biggest year yet for the team and that sense of excitement, opportunity and responsibility is definitely bubbling beneath the surface. It appears at this...

  • Flecha dreaming of elusive Paris-Roubaix win

    Juan Antonio Flecha (Sky Pro Cycling)
    Article published:
    January 13, 2012, 14:02 GMT
    Mark Robinson

    Veteran Spaniard tells Cyclingnews that he's still improving

    Could 2012 be the year when Juan Antonio Flecha breaks his duck at Paris-Roubaix? The popular Spaniard, who turns 35 this year, has had a series of near misses in the 'Queen of Classics', with three podium finishes and three other top ten placings. It's a race that he desperately wants to win, and he also told Cyclingnews of another burning ambition when we caught up with him at the Team Sky training camp in Mallorca.

    "If I had to choose one race to win now, it would be Paris-Roubaix," he said. "I have been close there many times and to win it would be amazing. I know many Belgian fans would say ‘come on Flecha, the Belgian races are the best’, but for me right now I would have to say Paris-Roubaix would be my dream.

    "I’d also really love to do the Tour de France again this year. It would be my tenth Tour in a row. That would make me very proud and I would really think ‘wow, look at that, that’s fantastic'. I know that I would be going there to work for Mark [Cavendish] and Bradley [Wiggins] and that will keep me occupied. But I’d be lying to you if I told you that I wouldn’t like to win another stage at the Tour. I won’t shirk any of my responsibilities to my team, but I can’t hide my desire to win a stage. I won a stage in my first Tour and it felt unbelievably good. I would love to feel that again."

    Flecha has an enormous amount of faith in his coaches at Team Sky, and the feedback that he has received from them over the winter has given him confidence that he can still improve, even at this relatively late stage of his career.

    "Can I still improve? It's an interesting question," he says. "I really believe that I can. As long as you show desire and want to improve, you will. If you think, even...