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First Edition Cycling News, Friday, January 21, 2011

Date published:
January 21, 2011, 0:00 GMT
  • Sastre disappointed but dignifed after Tour de France snub

    Carlos Sastre prepares for the training ride.
    Article published:
    January 20, 2011, 15:45 GMT
    Daniel Benson

    2008 Tour winner to stay at Geox-TMC and target the Giro d'Italia

    Carlos Sastre (Geox-TMC) has reacted with both disappointment and dignity after receiving the news he and his team have not been invited to the 2011 Tour de France by organisers ASO.

    The Tour organisers announced their list of 22 teams – including four wildcards today – with Geox-TMC, as many expected, missing out on a place in the sport’s biggest race. Four French teams at the same Professional Continental level as Geox-TMC have obtained wild card invitations. They are: Cofidis, Saur-Sojasun, FDJ and Team Europcar.

    “We’re not going to Paris-Nice or the Tour. Well, that’s their decision and there’s nothing I can do about it,” Sastre said, hearing the news from Cyclingnews.

    “Of course I would like to go to the Tour de France but if I’m not allowed then I’ll be free in July for the first time in 10 years.”

    Sastre won the Tour in 2008 and despite failing to reach those heights in the last two editions of the race he was signed, along with Denis Menchov, as the Grand Tour leader of Geox-TMC. Menchov finished third in last year’s Tour and won the 2009 Giro d’Italia.

    Sastre will now build his season around the Giro d’Italia in May and possibly the Vuelta later in the year. He dismissed the idea of leaving Geox-TMC in order to find a team with a Tour de France place.

    “No, no, no. Just because we’re not allowed to go to the Tour de France? No, I don’t have any reason to leave my team. We will race in the Giro d’Italia, which is a really important, like the Vuelta, which is also important and something we can do. There are many more other races,” he said.

    “The Tour de France for me is special and I wanted...

  • ASO extends partnership with Amgen Tour of California

    The Amgen Tour of California peloton takes in stunning scenery along the coast.
    Article published:
    January 20, 2011, 16:15 GMT
    Cycling News

    Agreement ensures television coverage through 2013

    The owners of the Tour de France and Amgen Tour of California, the Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO) and AEG, announced today that they have extended their partnership through 2013.

    The ASO will produce the television coverage of the Amgen Tour of California, which takes place from May 15-22 this year, bringing world-wide high-definition coverage of the event. AEG also announced a multi-year deal with the Versus network in the USA to broadcast the race.

    By partnering with ASO, the Amgen Tour of California, which was broadcast in more than 200 countries and shown live in over 90, will seek to expand that market.

    "The Amgen Tour of California has become one of the premier cycling events on the international calendar, and we are proud to continue our support of a race that further elevates the appeal of this great sport worldwide," said Yann Le Moenner, managing director, ASO.

    "Additionally, producing and distributing broadcast images of the 2011 Amgen Tour of California on an international platform further demonstrates that ASO's expertise is recognised not only in Europe, but on an international level as well."

    "AEG is delighted to extend our partnership with the Amaury Sport Organisation, which is the world's best organizer of bicycle races," said Andrew Messick, president, AEG Sports. "We expect that ASO will continue to provide viewers around the world with an extraordinary documentation of the race, showcasing of the incredible beauty and diversity of the state of California."

  • Heulot delighted with Saur-Sojasun Tour de France wild card

    Jérôme Coppel is expected to be Saur-Sojasun's GC contender at the 2011 Tour de France.
    Article published:
    January 20, 2011, 16:45 GMT
    Daniel Friebe

    French manager says his team deserves place

    Saur-Sojasun team manager Stéphane Heulot on Thursday applauded Tour de France organisers ASO's "logical" decision to grant his team a wild card for the 2011 race.

    The Rennes-based Professional Continental division team will ride the Tour for the first time, having been selected ahead of Mauro Gianetti's Geox-TMC outfit.

    "I feel great joy," Heulot told Cyclingnews. "It's also a logical choice which shows that the Tour organizers have seen the team progress over the past two years. We're the 22nd ranked team in the world, so it makes sense that we're one of the 22 teams starting the biggest race in the sport, the Tour."

    Also on Thursday, ASO revealed that another French Professional Continental team, Bretagne-Schuller, had been awarded a starting place in Paris-Nice at the expense of Saur-Sojasun.

    Far from expressing frustration, Heulot welcomed ASO's even-handedness. "I welcome them giving other teams an opportunity," the former Tour yellow jersey-wearer said. "We've got what we wanted; it's only fair that others also get their chance."

    Come July, French supporters will hope that Saur's budding stage-race prodigy Jérôme Coppel can reproduce the climbing form which took him to fourth place on Alpe d'Huez in the Critérium du Dauphiné in 2010, and fifth overall. In the two Jimmys, Engoulvent and Casper, Heulot also boasts two riders with a proven pedigree in time trials and sprints respectively. This trio could well form the nucleus of a versatile and ambitious team at the Grande Boucle - although Engoulvent will rue the lack of a prologue time trial.

    "We'll be looking to carry on where we left off in 2010 - that's to say winning," Heulot said. "Last year we won 19 races with 12 different riders,...

  • Prudhomme justifies Tour de France team selections

    Christian Prudhomme reveals the 2011 Tour de France route
    Article published:
    January 20, 2011, 17:29 GMT
    Stephen Farrand

    ASO supports French teams rather than Geox-TMC

    The director of the Tour de France, Christian Prudhomme, has defended the decision to award the four wild card invitations to this year’s race to French squads, saying he has done it help French cycling.

    ASO announced the 22 teams that will ride this year’s Tour de France on Wednesday afternoon. They stuck to an agreement with the UCI to invite all 18 ProTeam squads, and awarded the four wild card places to Cofidis, Saur - Sojasun, FDJ and Team Europcar.

    The Geox-TMC team missed out on a place despite having 2008 Tour de France winner Carlos Sastre and Russia’s Denis Menchov in the squad. Menchov won the 2009 Giro d’Italia and was third in the 2010 Tour de France.

    "This is a consequence of our decision to helping French cycling,” Prudhomme told the AFP news agency.

    “Now it’s time for the French riders to show that we were right to trust them. We have the best 18 teams in the world and with the other teams we have emblematic riders: Voeckler at Europcar, Moncoutié at Cofidis, and Fédrigo and Casar at FDJ. And Saur-Sojasun has (Jérôme) Coppel, who is without a doubt one of the best hopes in French cycling for stage races.”

    Prudhomme denied that ASO announced the teams so early in the year to avoid having to judge the teams on early-season sporting merit.

    “Not at all. There are new rules with the 18 teams having already been selected. There were just four invitations remaining and only one French team (AG2R-La Mondiale) was among the 18, so we clearly preferred national (French) teams. Four of the five French second division teams have been selected and the fifth was selected for Paris-Nice. Why wait until the beginning of the season? It didn’t...

  • AG2R fighting to earn continued ProTeam status

    AG2R La Mondiale
    Article published:
    January 20, 2011, 19:30 GMT
    Jean-François Quénet

    Champion feels pressure to perform at Tour Down Under

    The AG2R-La Mondiale team made the top tier of the professional cycling world this year and are assured a place in the Tour de France, but the team's directeur sportif Laurent Biondi knows that it will have to improve in order to be assured its spot in the World Tour in 2012.

    "We're aware that we've made the World Tour by just," Biondi told Cyclingnews. AG2R-La Mondiale was ranked 20th by the UCI's sporting criteria, but they made the cut of the 18 ProTeams. The UCI has yet to give an explanation to the public on why the French team was chosen for the top 18 over 18th placed Geox-TMC, but a possible explanation would be that Vincent Lavenu was already holding a ProTour licence for 2011.

    Biondi knows his team has to perform better this year to keep its place in the World Tour in 2012. "We've been told that for now, the same sporting evaluation criteria are in place, but we also heard that it might be changed and we'll get to know the new points scale in March," Biondi said.

    "It's weird to start the season without knowing exactly how it works but any information coming from the UCI earlier than in October will be an improvement compared to last year. It came to us as a shock when the sporting evaluation ranking was released and we had no clue of what the criteria were. It means we didn't know what to base our recruitment on. We hope the UCI will inform us of the rules this time around."

    Currently taking part in the Santos Tour Down Under, the team is looking to former French champion Dimitri Champion for results. He and his teammates have been very active in the breakaways this week, and Champion admitted that it has something to do with the World Tour selection process and the need to perform all year round.

    "I think the best way to...

  • 20 teams chosen for Tirreno-Adriatico

    Acqua & Sapone controls the peloton.
    Article published:
    January 20, 2011, 20:32 GMT
    Cycling News

    Geox-TMC left off start list again

    RCS Sport, organizer of the Tirreno - Adriatico, announced the 20 teams selected to compete in the 46th edition of the Italian stage race. The news came on Thursday, the same day that Amaury Sport Organization (ASO) gave notice of the teams selected for the 2011 Tour de France and Paris-Nice.

    160 racers will compete at the 2011 Tirreno - Adriatico. The Corsa dei Due Mari will start on March 9 in Tuscany and will end on March 15 in San Benedetto del Tronto in Marche region.

    The 2010 Tirreno - Adriatico was won by Stefano Garzelli. His Acqua & Sapone team and the Farnese Vini - Neri Sottoli team are the only Professional Continental teams to make the selection.  All 18 ProTeams were selected.

    The announcement is more bad news for the Geox-TMC Team, which includes Carlos Sastre and Denis Menchov, who were not on the list of invited teams. The team was also excluded from the start lists of this year's Tour de France and Paris-Nice.

    2011 Teams for the Tirreno-Adriatico
    Acqua & Sapone (Ita)
    Ag2R La Mondiale (Fra)
    BMC Racing Team (USA)
    Euskaltel-Euskadi (Spa)
    Farnese Vini - Neri Sottoli (GBr)
    HTC-Highroad (USA)
    Katusha Team (Rus)
    Lampre-ISD (Ita)
    Leopard Trek (Lux)
    Liquigas-Cannondale (Ita)
    Movistar Team (Spa)
    Omega Pharma-Lotto (Bel)
    Pro Team Astana (Kaz)
    Quick Step Cycling Team (Bel)
    Rabobank Cycling Team (Ned)
    Saxo Bank Sungard (Den)
    Sky Procycling (Gbr)
    Team Garmin-Cervelo (USA)
    Team Radioshack (USA)
    Vacansoleil - DCM Pro Cycling Team (Ned)

  • Experts call Armstrong-HemAssist connection unlikely

    Lance Armstrong (RadioShack)
    Article published:
    January 20, 2011, 22:30 GMT
    Laura Weislo

    Blood substitute ineffective, says new report

    Following on the heels of the Sports Illustrated exposé which reported that US federal investigators had assembled evidence that Lance Armstrong had access to a blood substitute in clinical trials, a new report by the Associated Press claims the product, HemAssist, would have been ineffective as a performance enhancing drug.

    SI reporters delved through hundreds of documents in an attempt to uncover the details of the investigation's evidence in the case, which is reportedly looking into claims made by Floyd Landis that there was organized doping within Armstrong's US Postal team during the 2002-2004 seasons.

    The report states that the investigators have information that Armstrong gained access to HemAssist in the late 1990s. The drug, a "Diaspirin Cross-Linked Hemoglobin (DCLHb), was developed as an emergency blood substitute for trauma cases, and could, in theory, boost the blood's oxygen-carrying capabilities and provide a performance-enhancing benefit for aerobic sports.

    While the SI report never alleges Armstrong actually used the drug, it quoted former Baxter researcher Robert Przybelski as saying a drug like HemAssist would be an ideal product to replace EPO - one that could have the same effect without the negative side-effects of blood thickening and strokes. He added that there may have been supplies of the drug remaining after the trial ended, but he was not aware of any missing quantities.

    Speaking to the Associated Press today, Przybelski clarified that he didn't believe athletes ever used HemAssist.

    "I could not imagine a cyclist using HemAssist or any HBOC day after day ... I would imagine that such a product would be used selectively for a most difficult mountain stage," he told AP. "But of course," he added, "I don't believe these products were ever used."

    Armstrong's spokesman, Mark Fabiani, told Cyclingnews that because the...

  • Eisel bemoans lack of clarity and promotion of UCI World Tour calendar

    Bernhard Eisel (HTC-Highroad)
    Article published:
    January 20, 2011, 23:26 GMT
    Jean-François Quénet

    HTC-Highroad captain also questions the work of the CPA

    HTC-Highroad road captain Bernhard Eisel has initiated talks with riders and team managers at the Santos Tour Down Under in an attempt to understand more about cycling’s new World Tour structure and the recent reforms put in place by the UCI.

    As the 2011 season picks up pace, many key stake holders in the sport are deploring the lack of information and promotion of the World Tour, since the UCI first announced its creation at last year’s world championships in Melbourne. New rules and a secret ranking system to decide the 18 ProTeam for 2011 has also created a lack of clarity.

    “If I’m asked what is the World Tour, I’d say it’s like the champion’s league of cycling,” Eisel told Cyclingnews in the lobby of the Adelaide Hilton where all the teams are staying during the race.

    “But there should be a proper presentation somewhere. Is there a leader’s jersey? Does the individual ranking or the team classification determine the order of the team cars at the next one day race (Milan-San Remo)? If it’s hard for me to understand which races are in there, how can people who are out of the sport understand?”

    “Is the World Tour a league in its own or is it part of the UCI? There must be a clear decision on where we’re going, let say for the next three seasons. Teams and riders must be united to go in the same direction. We want the public to understand our sport. We want a world ranking that determines who is the best rider and which is the best team. The ranking must sanction the season and qualify for the World Tour the following season. The sporting evaluation system is very confusing. We need clarification.”

    “I’m very positive about cycling becoming more international with races like the Tour of Beijing”, Eisel said, emphasizing his enthusiasm for the World Tour. “Look at what’s happening here in Adelaide,...