- Article published:
- January 21, 2010, 17:36
- Peter Cossins
Spaniard had hoped to compete again after cancer treatment
Former ONCE, Mapei, Quick Step and Saunier Duval rider David Cañada has announced his retirement from racing just a month after completing his treatment for skin cancer. The 34-year-old Spaniard had hoped to extend his 14-year career into this season, but has decided to look at other opportunities after what is now the Footon-Servetto team decided not to offer him a new deal.
A popular rider who proved a strong domestique, Cañada enjoyed two purple patches in his career. The first came in his final season with ONCE, in 2000, when he claimed the overall titles at the Tour of Murcia and the Circuit de la Sarthe. In 2006, riding for Saunier Duval, he won the overall title at the Tour of Catalonia.
Cañada missed all of the 2009 season due to his treatment for cancer, but always expected to return to racing. He admitted that being denied the chance to come back was the only disappointment he would carry with him into retirement. "I am a bit disappointed because I had faith in that team, Fuji-Servetto. They told me there would be no problems [to continue], that they still had faith in me. They were saying that right up to October when they sent me a letter saying they would not be re-signing me," Cañada said.
Speaking last month, Cañada had said the decision taken by Footon-Servetto managers Mauro Gianetti and Matxín Rodríguez had come too late in the season for him to be able to follow up possible leads with other teams. He added that a rejection at that point in the year wouldn't have looked good to prospective employers either given he was only just starting to train again as his treatment for cancer neared its conclusion.
Cañada expressed his hope that he can stay in the sport. "I don't want to break my link with it but I don't know where my path will lead me now. I just have to wait and see what projects come along," he said. "In the last few years I was really able to savour what I was doing and it was a privilege being able to dedicate myself to what I enjoyed above anything else, as well as being paid for doing it."
He acknowledged that he had had setbacks at every team he'd ridden for, but feels more than compensated for that by the many friendships he has made. He concluded by saying the biggest difference between cycling at the start of his career and its current state was that "when I started cyclists were held in great esteem and had a good image. If a son said to his father that he wanted to be a cyclist, the father would have been delighted. Nowadays, unfortunately, he probably would not be as easily convinced."
- Article published:
- January 21, 2010, 18:14
- Cycling News
Talented German lands contract after Equipe Nürnberger shrinks
German Charlotte Becker will join the Cervélo TestTeam women's team for 2010, gaining refuge in the team after the withdrawal of Skyter as title sponsor of her previous squad, Equipe Nürnberger.
The 26-year-old has had success on both the road and the track. A former German national time trial champion and European points race champion on the track, Becker picked up four wins and finished third overall in the Giro della Toscana last season.
"Charlotte is a very good time trial rider and as well as being strong on the track, especially in the team pursuit. She will be a real asset to our team, as well as fighting for our own victories," said Egon van Kessel, Sports Director.
"While it is a little late for signings, we are now able to offer the best possible program to the riders. For the team to perform at it's best, in all our target races, we needed one more rider. We are fortunate to secured Charlotte's talents."
"I saw Cervélo TestTeam last year and the team looked very professional. Now I'm proud to be a part of it and I'm looking forward to the upcoming season," said Becker. "I think is a really strong team and I want to help as much as I can. If I get the chance, I also want to go for some good results, especially in time trials, so I am really looking forward to using the Cervélo time trial bikes."
- Article published:
- January 21, 2010, 19:28
- Cycling News
Months after Rebellin is disqualified, Russian still on hold
Nearly two months after the International Olympic Committee (IOC) forced Italian Davide Rebellin to return his silver medal from the 2008 Games, Russian Alexander Kolobnev is still waiting to be officially declared the bronze medalist of the men's road race.
Rebellin was officially disqualified in November by the IOC, and returned his medal and prize winnings at the behest of the IOC and Italian Olympic Committee. He forfeited his second place after testing positive for the EPO variant CERA, although he denied having used the drug.
Kolobnev, who placed fourth behind winner Samuel Sanchez of Spain, Rebellin and Swiss rider Fabian Cancellara, has been seeking a resolution to the results. The Russian contends he should be awarded the bronze medal following Rebellin's disqualification.
According to the Spanish news wire EFE, Kolobnev appealed to the International Cycling Union to be officially declared the bronze medalist, but was turned down, the response saying that it was a matter for the IOC. The Russian released the letter to the press today to draw attention to his plight.
On the official Olympic Games site, Cancellara is still listed as the road race bronze medalist, while Rebellin's name has been removed from the silver medal position.
Rebellin has appealed the disqualification and his subsequent 2-year ban to the Court for Arbitration for Sport along with German Stefan Schumacher, who also tested positive for the same drug at the Beijing Games.
- Article published:
- January 22, 2010, 00:55
- Les Clarke
Local boys look for the right moves at Tour Down Under
UniSA-Australia captain Simon Clarke epitomised the team's philosophy at the Tour Down Under yesterday when he initiated a breakaway with ProTour stars such as Karsten Kroon and Jens Voigt some 70km into the 132km stage from Unley to Stirling.
The move ignited a hectic finale - two tough laps around the leafy town in the Adelaide Hills - which featured some dominant riding from Alejandro Valverde's Caisse d'Epargne team and a stage win for Footon-Servetto-Fuji rider Manuel Cardoso.
It was the third breakaway featuring one of the team members following Tim Roe's superb effort during the first day and David Kemp's heroics on the road to Hahndorf, both undertaken with two other riders.
Clarke reaped the rewards of his toil with the most aggressive rider's jersey and a chance to demonstrate his attacking qualities ahead of another European campaign riding for Italian Professional Continental squad ISD.
"I knew how hard the start was," Clarke said of yesterday's stage. "You can try as hard as you want, but there is no break that is going on that expressway. I would have put my house on it."
After some early moves had tried to make an impact on the stage, UniSA-Australia team manager Dave Sanders was on the radio with a message, "Boys, we're here for the EB's [early breaks], do something about it," recalled Clarke.
Jonathan Cantwell and Rohan Dennis responded soon after, joining a move with another Australian, Française des Jeux's Wes Sulzberger. "Columbia didn't really rate that, funnily enough," said Clarke. "So they hit the panic button and Bert Grabsch hit a couple of NOS buttons and brought them back on his own, which was impressive."
In doing that, the other two riders who had previously broken away were returned to the peloton, the perfect time for Clarke to launch his own attack. "Everyone was taking a deep breath and I thought, 'I'm onto you guys,' so Bang! Off I went... I saw there was a wheel that came across and then he rode past and it was Karsten Kroon - I thought, 'Not a bad bloke to be chopping off with for the next 70k, we can work with this'."
Soon after the pair was joined by Jack Bobridge, Saxo Bank's Jen Voigt and Liquigas rider Maciej Paterski, the quintet riding towards Stirling and gaining almost 90 seconds. Upon entering the town and beginning the first circuit around it, Voigt, Kroon and Paterski began to suffer from the high temperatures and dropped back to the peloton.
From there it was a matter of surviving for as long as possible, riding with Bobridge and Omega Pharma-Lotto's Matt Lloyd, who rode across to the pair as the second lap approached. The break was doomed but for Clarke it was a satisfying day and another successful stint off the front of the peloton for UniSA-Australia.
Clarke explained that the secret to maximising the chances of succeeding in a break lies with simple things such as eating and drinking enough, especially in hot conditions. "I drank a heap, kept myself cool and kept having gels - they're not ideal but as long as you're eating something," he said.
The Victorian has also been playing the faithful teammate, having ridden Tim Roe back to the bunch when he punctured before Checker Hill on stage two. He also explained that today's stage to Goolwa will be spent mostly in the bunch but there's the chance that stage five, that includes two ascents of Old Willunga Hill, may hold more opportunities for UniSA-Australia.
"On Saturday I'll be looking for opportunities to get into a break because the stage to Goolwa is definitely a sprinter's day," he said. "I said to the boys this week that stage three and stage five are the two chances where breaks are going to stick. On the other days have a go, but it'll be tough.
"Ahead of stage three I said in the meeting that I wanted to get in the break - obviously it wasn't a standard breakaway day where something goes from the gun but that was because of the start."
Clarke then gave us a pointer on what to look for if a breakaway is to be successful: "If you can just be a bit clever and save a bit of energy when they're all trying to attack while the bunch is doing 75km/h on a false flat downhill, it's pretty smart. You have to find the right place to take your shot - in Italian it's called, 'Punto giusto', the 'Right point'."
- Article published:
- January 22, 2010, 09:16
- Daniel Benson
Bobby Julich confident about Saxo Bank's future
Saxo Bank’s Bobby Julich believes that the team is in a stronger position than ever to attract new sponsors after main sponsor Saxo Bank confirmed they would be pulling the plug on the team at the end of the current season.
Julich rode for the team for five years during its incarnation as CSC. He is about to begin his second year as part of the squad’s back room staff, as a rider development manager.
“From the very first day I signed on this team I had to either battle for my contract or battle for a sponsor right until the last minute. With Saxo Bank pulling out we’re more prepared than ever to deal with it. We went through the biggest issue last year when IT Factory was forced to pull out. We were forced to continue with the team at the highest level but with a lower budget. We really pulled together and fought together. I know we’re more prepared than ever,” Julich told Cyclingnews.
With the team losing some of it’s previous management staff to Team Sky in the last few months, Julich has also found himself with more responsibility, liaising more with current sponsors, while also being the go-to-guy for the riders, many of whom he used to ride with professionally.
“The role is everything I did last year and then also inheriting sponsor accounts, trying to reconnect with them and get the most out of that. It’s turned out to be very fruitful so far and we’re working together really well. We want to be an open and friendly team. Make it more fun and no barriers. I’m trying to help with that.”
Julich retired during the 2008 season after a 16-year career as professional rider. He finished third in the 1998 Tour de France but after unsuccessful stints at Crédit Agricole and then Telekom, he found himself contemplating retirement. However Bjarne Riis, a man who Julich, admits saved his career, gave the American a final shot at resurrecting his career. In 2005 Julich bounced back to won Paris-Nice, the Benelux Tour and the Criterium International.
“I was able to leave everything on the road. If I’d been forced to retire in 2003, like I thought I’d have to, I would have been the typical ex pro blaming everyone and everything. But I got to finish it and perhaps even go on for an extra year. I was planning on retiring the year before but Frank, Andy and Fabian talked me out of it.”
“I got it all out but I realised I wanted to remain in cycling. When Bjarne came to me he told me he needed me more off the bike than on it. I didn’t want to act like I was their buddy or sparing partner. I wanted to make a difference and make their lives better as riders.”
The transition from rider to management has been eased by the fact that Julich remained with the same team or ‘family’ instead of joining another set-up. With less time on the road Julich is now able to spend more time with those closest to him, his wife and two young daughters at their home in Nice, France.
“There were more family responsibilities when our second daughter was born and it was just a little too much when I looked at myself in the mirror and saw my wife and what she was having to do. A wife taking care of one child is one thing but two by herself for weeks in a row, I couldn’t do that. I was cutting my training short because I didn’t want to leave her hanging like that,” he said.
Julich’s relationship with Riis has also been a paramount in his shift to management. The two were rivals on the bike during the late 1990s, but even then Julich admits that he was full of admiration for the Dane, who famously won the Tour in 1996 before later admitting to doping and offering to give back his yellow jersey.
“I’ve always had a very unique relationship with Bjarne and I respect him very much. He’s a guy I can learn from. He and I can talk about sensitive topics, maybe even argue about them but we respect the boundaries.”
“In 1998 when we almost abandoned the Tour on stage 17 I was there saying, ‘hey listen, if they stop the race now do I still get second?’ That’s all I was interested in. We started the race after a two hour delay and Bjarne came up to me and said I should talk to Leblanc.”
“I was like, ‘you’ve won the Tour, who the hell am I?’ It was right then that I knew he’d be involved in cycling still. He took the leadership in a very difficult situation in the Tour and he took me on when no one else would and gave me two of the best years of my career and some great memories.”
Those memories will have to be put to one side as Julich fights to find a new team sponsor. Despite the global economic conditions he believes that cycling is still growing and that Lance Armstrong's comeback has fuelled further interest in the sport.
“With the new sponsors and what’s happening in America with cycling right now I think it’s a great time for new sponsors to get involved in the sport.”
“Since he’s come back he’s ignited the passion for cycling within America which has been fantastic. Hats off to him for having that effect. With Garmin, Columbia, and Specialized becoming more interested, there are other American sponsors that are waiting for the right opportunity and think there’s one now.”
- Article published:
- January 22, 2010, 10:24
- Peter Cossins
Seven-time Tour winner nevertheless prepares for eighth win
Lance Armstrong has stated that if he was defending Tour de France champion Alberto Contador he would not be afraid of seven-time winner Armstrong going into this year's race. Speaking to Spanish newspaper Marca, which was a very vocal cheerleader for Contador during last year's Tour, Armstrong was asked whether Contador should be afraid of him.
"No. If I were Contador I wouldn't be afraid of Lance," he responded. "He's got a very privileged brain, because from the moment he gets up all he thinks about is cycling and that's very important."
Of course, that does not mean that Armstrong is even remotely thinking about conceding the Tour title. He said that he hoped to arrive at the Tour start following a more "traditional" route than last year, a route that doesn't for one thing include being set back by a broken collar-bone. "I hope this year is going to be more peaceful and I will reach the Tour in better shape," he said.
Armstrong added that last year his body looked more like that of a swimmer than a cyclist. "But now I've lost muscle mass, I'm not working out in the gym and I feel good about competing at the maximum level... Last season I wasn't at the same level as Contador and Andy Schleck, but this Tour is different. It's technical and I've already said that I can win it," the Texan insisted.
The American believed his best hope lies in improving his time trialling. "Last year I didn't get this right and ended up losing a lot of time in the time trials... Also, my style of riding will be different. I have to be more calculating, more conservative. You could say that I have to be more boring, but that will be better for me," he explained.
He admitted he didn't know what aspects will prove decisive at the Tour, but added: "I do know that psychological games will be very important, and [Johan] Bruyneel is a master at that kind of thing." Consequently, it looks like comments about the strength of Contador's team and the fact that even the Spaniard's Tour room-mate departed Astana for RadioShack have clearly been just an opening salvo in a campaign of mind games.
Asked about Bruyneel's recent comment that he and Armstrong were like brothers, Armstrong replied: "We are more than brothers. We both understand each other so well. If we were brothers we would be twins."
Armstrong also talked about how the atmosphere in the RadioShack team was having a beneficial effect on him. "Now I've got a close relationship with the sponsor again. We talk about things together, which is something that didn't happen at Astana. Now I feel this is my team, last year it wasn't. In fact, the only Kazakhs that I have ever spoken to in my life were the riders at Astana," he stated.
The Texan said that although his focus is very much on the Tour de France, "I would like to win something before that, whether it's a stage or a race. For example, we've got some options at the Tour of Murcia. The Tour of Flanders would be good too, but that requires a knowledge of the terrain that I don't have."
Marca also questioned him on comments made to the Belgian press in which he accused the Spanish paper of "kissing Contador's ass". Armstrong responded by saying: "I can understand that in Spain its idols are protected. The US has done that with Tiger Woods, Italy did it with Marco Pantani, but it annoyed me that during the Tour de France Marca published stories that weren't true. I read them and didn't understand what was being talked about. I said to myself, 'What is this?' In [Miguel] Induráin's era his status as a hero was protected, but no one said things like that."
- Article published:
- January 22, 2010, 11:05
- Jean-François Quénet
Obscure neo-professional thrust into the spotlight
The power of social networking has created a new star at this year’s Tour Down Under, in the form of French neo-professional Arthur Vichot. While it’s Vichot’s debut in the ProTour, the 21-year-old has fans wearing Allez Vichot Allez shirts and painting ‘Go Vichot’ or ‘Allez Arthur’ with a French flag on the road.
“There are more ‘go Vichot’ than ‘go Lance’, it’s amazing,” said Vichot.
The Française des Jeux rider was picked randomly by a group of cycling enthusiasts – led by Daniel Searson – in Adelaide, South Australia. They created a Facebook fan club for the rider, which has amassed 560 fans in two week and seen Cyclingnews inundated with requests regarding the rider during its live coverage of the race.
“We are from the Port Adelaide Cycling Club,” explained Aimee Alsbury, who finally had the chance to meet her idol prior to the start of stage four in Norwood.
“Only two weeks ago the idea came up to create an Australian fan-club for an unknown rider who would be doing his first race here, who had never been to Australia before and doesn’t speak English,” said Alsbury. “We went through the start list and we found Arthur on Facebook. That’s how we got to know that he came second at the U23 French championship. The club has grown from words of mouth.”
During his first training ride with local cyclists in Adelaide last week, Lance Armstrong was asked by Alsbury: “Do you know Vichot?” The seven-time winner of the Tour de France had never heard this name but he was told: “You’ll know him by the end the Tour Down Under.” That’s exactly what’s happened.
Today’s fourth stage featured the rider’s name painted with the French flag at the base of the King of the Mountain climb. Vichot is the nephew of Frédéric Vichot, who was a stage winner in the Tour de France in 1984 and 1985 and was known as the world’s best downhill rider at the time.
“It is fun that this story occurs to me,” said Vichot, who has already been selected in his team’s Paris-Roubaix lineup.
Vichot’s supports have told him there will be more ‘Go Vichot’ signs painted on Willunga Hill tomorrow. He’ll be offered one of the increasingly famous T-shirts by the Port Adelaide Cycling Club at 6 PM on Sunday in the Hilton Hotel’s lobby. Space permitting, the fan club is hoping as many of its 560 members as possible attend the ceremony.
- Article published:
- January 22, 2010, 11:54
- Hedwig Kröner
No regrets as to Quick Step move
Sylvain Chavanel's objectives for this year are clear, and he isn't afraid to talk about them. "I want to win Paris-Nice this season," he told Cyclingnews on the eve of the official presentation of his Quick Step team. "After that, I want to score at least one Classic."
The French rider is motivated, and his pre-season preparation has been going well. "I've got 5,000 kilometres in my legs right now - about the same amount as last year at the same time. We made up for the bad weather conditions in Northern Europe at the training camp in Calpe. It was good to train is the sun."
Chavanel will start his 2010 racing programme on the island of Mallorca, where he will participate in two of the five one-day races of the Mallorca Challenge. The month of February will continue with the Volta ao Algarve in Portugal, Het Volk and Kuurne-Bruxelles-Kuurne in Belgium, before Chavanel will move onto Paris-Nice, a race that has been dear to him for a while and which he finished in third position last year, also taking a stage win.
"I will try to win it, I really want to," he said. "There is also Milano-Sanremo, which I would like to have as an objective. As it's just after Paris-Nice, I could be good there, too. My aim is to win Paris-Nice, and afterwards score one other Classic. I will race almost all of the other great Classics, including the ones in the Ardennes, which I didn’t do last year."
Chavanel revealed the depth of his talent for the Northern Classics in 2008, when he took the Dwars door Vlaanderen and Brabantse Pijl in Belgium while still riding for Cofidis. Quick Step manager Patrick Lefevere reacted swiftly and signed the 30-year-old to his team to strengthen its dominance in the Northern European Spring races.
With the help of Chavanel, Quick Step was able to repeat its victories of the Ronde van Vlaanderen and Paris-Roubaix in 2009. While Stijn Devolder and Tom Boonen took all the honours in the prestigious races, the Frenchman played a team-mate’s role. Still, Chavanel said that he was happy with his choice to move to Quick Step.
"I don't regret anything. On the whole, 2009 went well. I learned how to approach the great Classics, staying at the sides of Tom Boonen who is used to winning this kind of competition. It was important."
Nevertheless, having finished eighth last year in Roubaix, Chavanel feels ready to step up - even if he knows that Boonen and Devolder are the team's absolute leaders.
"As they have already won great Classics, they are being trusted more by the team management, which is normal," he continued. "I showed last year that I was able to do well at the great Classics, so this year, I will try to think more of myself."
Still looking back at 2009, the Frenchman had only one regret as to his results: not having made the podium of the Tour of Flanders, where he was in the lead group in the finale. As his team-mate Devolder attacked to take a solo win, Chavanel stayed behind with Preben Van Hecke (Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator) and Manuel Quinziato (Liquigas) and eventually lost a podium placing for the sprint.
"I got caught with 800 metres to go, otherwise I would have made the podium," he said. "Devolder jumped away, so I didn't ride one metre with Quinziato. If I had anticipated this and remained at 15 seconds of Devolder, I could have made the podium. But it's only victory that counts."
This year, Chavanel wants to make it his breakthrough year with respect to the Classics. "One Classic win, that would be it. I don't care which one. There are riders who are able to win a Classic very soon in their career, and others who take more time. I'm 30 years old, and I will try to win one now."