A close-up look at the Australian's purpose-built ride
Australian's 2015 Tinkoff-Saxo team bike
Winner of the 2015 Tour Down Under
New and old kicks and lids seen at WorldTour race
Dramatic image from Giro's final stage voted best by Cyclingnews readers
They say a picture paints a thousand words, and in the case of Denis Menchov at this year's Giro d'Italia, a thousand emotions must have been flying through the Russian's head when he hit the deck during the final time trial in Rome.
For this reason Cyclingnews readers voted this image, taken by experienced Italian lensman Roberto Bettini, the best of the year during what was a dramatic season full of colour and intrigue.
Menchov came into the final time trial in the historic Italian capital needing to maintain a slender lead over local favourite Danilo Di Luca; the Rabobank captain's dramatic fall in the final kilometre was notable not only for the tense finale it created but the immaculate bike change from his team mechanic Vincent Hendriks, who received a plethora of plaudits after the event.
The runner up in this category came from another Grand Tour, the Tour de France, and the final stage dominance of Mark Cavendish and teammate Mark Renshaw. Columbia-HTC's two Marks scored full marks for their efforts on the Champs Élyseés - Renshaw's leadout was phenomenal, the Australian taking the Manxman to the 200m marker and collecting second place whilst Cavendish claimed his sixth stage victory.
The image sums up the American team's dominance in sprints at this year's Tour, and although Cavendish didn't collect the maillot vert of best sprinter in Paris, his performances spoke greater volumes than any jersey could summate.
It was back to the Giro d'Italia for the bronze medal, according to our readers, as an image of the peloton climbing a snow-capped and cold-looking Passo Rolle got the nod for the bottom step of the dais. A picture courtesy of another long-time Italian snapper, Sirotti, it covers the stage won by Denis Menchov as he set up his overall victory in the event.
Below is a gallery of the finalists in our Pic of the Year category - ranked in the order you voted for them -...
Former Garmin-Slipstream rider joins Felt-Holowesko-Garmin in 2010
Blake Caldwell has heeded medical advice and stepped down from the Garmin-Transitions ProTour ranks to join its less-demanding counterpart Team Holowesko Partners in 2010. He is fighting to reverse a form of osteoporosis discovered after he broke his hip in a cycling crash while training in Girona, Spain last April.
"I'm not on the Garmin ProTour team next year," said Caldwell. "I'm happy to join a group of young guys on an exciting team. I want to help the team in any way that I can."
"I've known for a while that I'll have a different role next year; [I've] finalised and settled on that with myself and with the new team," he added. "The reason that came about was because after my crash I followed up with a bone density scan and it showed it had Osteoporosis."
Osteoporosis is defined by the World Health Organisation as a bone mineral density that is 2.5 standard deviations below peak bone mass, compared to an ideal average 25-year-old male. Although the disease is more common among women, it affects nearly two million men in the USA.
Caldwell was based in Girona with his ProTour team at the time, Garmin-Slipstream, when he crashed and broke his hip during a training ride. His doctors became skeptical when Caldwell explained that the nature of the accident did not warrant a broken bone. A follow-up bone density test revealed sub-par bone mineral density and if not treated could result in more easily broken bones.
It is hard to imagine how a seemingly healthy 25-year-old male's bones could diminish to the point of crumbling during low impact. But according to Caldwell, the disease is more predominant amongst male and female cyclists than one would think. Caldwell sought several second opinions and found that a professional cyclist's lifestyle, such as his own, was a health risk for osteoporosis if adequate nutrition and weight bearing activities were not maintained.
"There are a lot of risk factors," Caldwell...
Medium-term objectives include Tour of Flanders
Mark Cavendish's top priority this season will be the green jersey of best sprinter in the Tour de France. After an astonishing 29 victories last year, the world's fastest sprinter has vowed to fight for - and win - the points classification taken by Thor Hushovd in 2009.
"The top goal in 2010 is the green at the Tour," Cavendish told Sportwereld. "The jersey was stolen from me in Pontarlier (sic) [stage 14 to Besancon - ed.]. The jury said that I cut off the way for Hushovd. The first rule in a sprint such as this one is that you never go on the inside. But Hushovd proved later, with his raids in the mountains, that he deserved the green."
The Manxman also cited the Ronde van Vlaanderen as one of his next objectives. "I will be 25 in May. I don't know my own limits yet. I dream of the Tour of Flanders, which I have never raced. Once I'm 28, I want to have won the Tour of Flanders. I've always lived up to my words when I stated a goal. When I want something, I work twice as hard for it and I achieve it."
Cavendish provided an example for this with his "enormous" victory in Milano-Sanremo this year. "That was my goal in 2009," he said. "Nobody knows how hard I trained for it during the winter - like a maniac. I wanted to prove to everybody that I was able to get over the climbs."
His outstanding success in Sanremo was Cavendish's personal favourite last year, "followed by the sprint on the Champs-Elysées. I rate these two wins well above all the rest. Another great one was the team time trial of the first day in the Giro d'Italia. We won and I took the pink jersey.
"I am especially proud of my six stage victories in the Tour," he continued. "From the profile it was a much harder Tour than in 2008, where I had to abandon after four stage wins. I prepared for it differently, too, I trained much harder."
The 24-year-old was confident he was going to be able to continue his winning ways this year, and...
Earlier training and lighter weight for Milram captain
Linus Gerdemann is looking for a more successful season with Team Milram, and wants to show “that I am to be reckoned with in 2010”.
The German had poor results in 2009, although he won the Bayern Rundfahrt. He was not on form for the Tour de France, which was to have been his season highlight.
“I certainly didn't achieve what I expected of myself,” he said at Thursday's team presentation in Dortmund, Germany. “I started a bit earlier with training this year. I want to be a different rider in 2010, one who can win races.”
This year he is aiming for the Tour again, looking to repeat his previous success. “At any rate I want a stage win,” he continued. “As for the GC, I think that when I am at the start in 100 percent form, then I will be a factor in the overall.”
Gerdemann is planning to build up to the Tour by starting well in the season, “beginning with the Mallorca Challenge, and I will see that I am super fit for that.
“I want to show that I am to be reckoned with in 2010. I will most likely ride the Giro d'Italia and I think that there I will also be in a very good condition.”
One of the changes Gerdemann made was to spend much of the off-season in South Africa, away from not only the European winter but also the media. Another change has been a move to healthier living. “I started paying attention to my nutrition much earlier,” he told Cyclingnews. “Last year I went into the season with the wrong body weight, which this year is much lower.”
His Milram team is facing the loss of its sponsor at the end of the season, but he denied that this puts any additional pressure on him. “There is always pressure to do well. I think that we will give our answer with good performances. We want to prove to sponsors that it makes good sense to invest in our team.”
The German ProTour...
Italian faces two-year ban for CERA use at Olympics
Davide Rebellin's hearing before the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) has been re-scheduled for January 22. The previous hearing planned for early December had been postponed due to a scheduling conflict.
Rebellin is facing charges of having used the EPO derivative CERA at the Beijing Olympic Games in August 2008. The Italian has already returned the silver medal he won and the bonus of 75,000 Euros CONI paid him. However, the Italian has consistently denied having used the doping product.
The hearing is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. at the Olympic Stadium in Rome. The 38-year-old could be given a two-year ban.
Spaniard still suffering after-effects from Giro crash
Pedro Horrillo has decided to retire. The 34-year-old is still suffering the after-effects of his horrific crash in the 2009 Giro d'Italia.
The Rabobank rider plunged over a cliff in the eighth stage of this year's Giro d'Italia, falling 80 metres and sustaining multiple fractures.
“The aftermath of my accident prevented me from regaining the level necessary to be a professional cyclist," he told the Spanish newspaper El Pais. Horrillo had returned to training this autumn, but while he could ride, he couldn't come back to the same level of performance as before.
Horrillo told team director Erik Breukink at the end of last month. “I explained that I could not accept the offer to stay another year, for physical reasons.”
He did not immediately know what he would do in the future. He has already received several offers from teams to work in management, but first wants to take a sabbatical. “Take care of my children, Abai and Hori, while my wife is at work. Write, of course.” Throughout his career, the Spaniard has written columns for various newspapers.
Horrillo will also continue to ride his bike. “I need to keep doing sport so I don't stagnate or atrophy. It is an obligation.”
The Spaniard studied philosophy at a Spanish university before turning pro with Vitalicio Seguros in 1998. He rode for Quick Step from 2001 to 2004 before joining Rabobank. Horrillo did not have many career victories but the biggest was a stage in the 2004 Paris-Nice, with the most recent being a stage at the Sachsen Rundfahrt in 2006.
Island of Noirmoutier to host the race's Grand Départ
Bertrand De Villiers, general councillor of the Vendée department, spilled the beans on January 7, according to French veloclub.net: The 2011 Tour de France Grand Départ will be held on the island of Noirmoutier, south of Nantes on the central west coast of France.
Speaking at a traditional New Year's ceremony, De Villiers announced that the first stage would be a normal stage from the island to Les Herbiers, approximately 140 kilometres inland. This is yet to be confirmed by Tour organiser ASO, who has not revealed the parcours of the 2011 edition yet.
If this is true, the Tour's first stage could use the famous Passage du Gois again, where a massive pile-up in 1999 made cycling history. Noirmoutier was also visited in the 2005 edition of the Grand Tour, when a time trial on the very first day already had a massive impact on the favourites' chances.
Furtheromre, De Villiers announced that a team time trial was planned for the race's second stage - albeit a short one.
Starting and finishing in Les Essarts, the collective race against the clock was said to be 22 or 23 kilometres long - a lot shorter than the one around Montpellier last year, which destroyed some of the GC contenders' hopes for an overall victory.
Bank pulling out after 2010 season
Team Saxo Bank is the next team in search of a new title sponsor. The bank will stop its sponsorship of the Danish team the end of 2010, when the current contract expires.
In a press release issued Friday, the team announced the end of the relationship. “We have enjoyed a fantastic partnership with Saxo Bank and I know that at the end this season, we can all look back on two and a half years of outstanding results and a lot of shared success,” team principal Bjarne Riis said
“We will continue to work together with Saxo Bank to activate the sponsorship throughout this year and we have high expectations for the 2010 season.”
The search for a new title sponsor has already begun, Riis said. “We have one of the strongest teams in the world that includes some of our sport’s biggest profiles. The experiences and challenges of the last two years have prepared our company for this challenge. We are better organized and positioned to handle this challenge now, than ever before.“
The Danish bank took over sponsorship the summer of 2008, and was co-sponsor along with CSC for the remainder of that season. It took over as sole title sponsor as of the 2009 season.
Saxo Bank has never announced the amount of its sponsorship, but the team's success has helped increase its global brand awareness. It was immediately boosted by Carlos Sastre's victory in the 2008 Tour de France, and the performance of the Schleck brothers in 2009. In last year's Tour, Andy Schleck finished second overall and Fränk Schleck was fifth.
When the bank signed the sponsorship agreement with Riis Cycling in 2008, it noted that the team “has the international reach and name recognition that means we will be able to get our message our to most of our client groups around the globe. We love the sport, and believe that together we will be winners.”
The bank now says it had been a good ride,...