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First Edition Cycling News, Friday, July 3, 2009

Date published:
July 03, 2009, 1:00 BST
  • Cavendish aims for stages and Paris

    Mark Cavendish was all smiles at the team presentation
    Article published:
    July 03, 2009, 14:17 BST
    Richard Moore

    Stapleton warns against too high expectations

    Mark Cavendish has played down his prospects of winning the green jersey in the Tour de France, insisting that he will be happy to reach Paris and claim just one stage along the way.

    "If I don’t win one I’ll have failed," said the 24-year old. "But this is the Tour de France, there are another 190 guys who all want to win a stage. If I win one stage and reach Paris I’ll be content."

    Cavendish is the bookies’ favourite to win the green jersey, which he says is "a bit optimistic," with his Columbia-HTC team manager, Bob Stapleton, echoing his star rider. "It’s tough for Mark," said Stapleton, “the expectations are too high."

    "In Britain especially it’s really unfair," Stapleton continued. “If he doesn’t win every sprint then people will say he screwed up. But his first goal is to reach Paris. His second is to win stages. People have him as the big favourite for the green jersey but that’s a big load for a 24-year old who, last year, went from someone no one knew to a big star. But he knows we’re behind him 100 per cent and he draws strength from his team-mates."

    Cavendish added: "I’d like the green jersey but I think it’s more realistic to look for stage wins. I want to win stages and get to Paris: those are my two goals. The green jersey is more special [than stage wins] but I’ve never reached Paris yet, so to start the Tour saying I’m going to try to win green is a bit optimistic."

    Cavendish identified Thor Hushovd and Oscar Freire as strong contenders for the green jersey, and picked out as many as seven stages that could be decided by a bunch sprint. "There could be five, six or seven sprints if you take away days with breaks, or days I have bad luck.

    "It’s the first Tour I’ve started not feeling nervous," he continued. "I’m just letting it come to me. In my first year [2007] it completely overwhelmed me,...

  • Bos suspended for Impey incident

    Daryl Impey finishes the Tour of Turkey after a violent crash with Theo Bos (Rabobank).
    Article published:
    July 03, 2009, 15:29 BST
    Daniel Simms

    UCI imposes minimum one month ban

    The UCI has handed Rabobank's sprinter Theo Bos a one-month suspension for his run-in with Barloworld's Daryl Impey at the Presidential Tour of Turkey earlier this year.

    The incident, in which Bos squeezed between the barricades and race winner Impey in the final sprint of the last stage and grabbed Impey's jersey before both of them crashed violently, was caught on video and reviewed by the UCI's disciplinary commission.

    The commission decided that Bos violated UCI regulations, but imposed the minimum sanction. The Dutch rider could have been suspended for up to six months.

    Impey, who was in the race's overall lead at the time of the crash, won the event since the crash happened within the final kilometre, but left Turkey with a broken jaw and teeth and several fractured vertebrae.

    Bos’ suspension will begin on 15 August and end on 14 September, 2009.

  • Fränk Schleck confident for overall classification

    Frank Schleck (Team Saxo Bank) speaks to the press in Monaco.
    Article published:
    July 03, 2009, 16:10 BST
    Hedwig Kröner

    Knee injury "no problem"

    Fränk Schleck, who finished sixth overall at last year's Tour de France, is ready to fight for the general classification once again. Together with his younger brother Andy, who also has serious ambitions to contend the top honours, Schleck will be leading his Danish Team Saxo Bank to make up for the loss of last year's winner Carlos Sastre.

    "We are a very balanced team, supporting each other a 100 percent," the 2006 Tour stage winner told Cyclingnews on Thursday evening. "Last year, it worked out well for us, and we will try to do the same this year - only without Carlos as a leader. This year, Andy and myself are the captains, and we hope to be good."

    Leaving it open for the journalist to interpret whether he talked about himself or his brother Andy, the new Luxembourg champion and last year's best young rider at the Tour, the elder Schleck chose to use the plural when speaking about his ambitions.

    "The general classification is more important than a stage victory," he said. "We are here to win the Tour. We'll see what we can achieve."

    The Schleck brothers may thus be double threat to the likes of Contador, Armstrong, Sastre or Menchov once the race unfolds on its way to Paris. But at the start in Monaco, all options were still left wide open. "My goal is to give everything I have in this Tour, and to make it a beautiful one. I can't predict what Andy and I will be able to do - if it's going to be a podium, a victory or the top ten - but I can promise that we will give it our all," Schleck added.

    Fortunately, the Saxo Bank leader has almost overcome his knee injury, which resulted from a crash in the early season Amstel Gold Race Classic. "I had some problems with my knee these last months, and it's still not completely healed. But if it stays as it is now, I'll be fine," Schleck explained. While he admitted that his injury impeded his preparations for the Tour de France, Schleck still insisted, "but the...

  • Moncoutié out for polka dot jersey

    Moncoutié will aim for the mountains jersey
    Article published:
    July 03, 2009, 16:53 BST
    Hedwig Kröner

    Vuelta KOM aims for Tour de France glory

    French climber David Moncoutié has selected a new, prestigious goal for himself at this year's Tour de France. Instead of hoping for breakaway opportunities, which has brought him two stage wins at the Tour and one at last year's Vuelta, the Cofidis rider will focus on the mountains competition this year.

    By winning the mountains classification at the 2008 Vuelta, Moncoutié proved to himself that he was able to make a continuous effort over three weeks and he now wants to have a go at the polka dot jersey in the French Grand Tour.

    "Winning the jersey at the Vuelta gave me the idea to try for it at the Tour, too," he told Cyclingnews. "Moreover, the route this year is well-suited to attacks in the mountains. Three stages start with climbs right away, so I hope to be out front on those days."

    Moncoutié knows that he will have to attack on the first KOM climbs of this Tour in order to stand a chance. "I will try for the polka dot jersey if I have the opportunity, if I can get some points in the first mountains. But I know that there are about 20 riders out there who have the same ambitions and abilities. We have seen in the past that the winner of the KOM competition is not necessarily a rider within the top ten of the general classification, so it's sort of my category. But I can't tell you who else will be up for it - it's too soon. We will see when we get to the Pyrenees," said Moncoutié.

    After a disappointing spell Cofidis manager Eric Boyer is happy that his rider has recovered his winning spirit again. Moncoutié spent the 2006 and 2007 seasons off the bike due to injuries and almost quit the sport two years ago. "It wasn't me who told him to set himself this goal, I swear!" Boyer told Cyclingnews. "He suggested it, and I think he's now capable of it. He has to attack in the Pyrenees right away, then we will see how many points he can make. He needs to be in the top three [of the...

  • Vaughters predicts unpredictable Tour

    Jonathan Vaughters
    Article published:
    July 03, 2009, 17:48 BST
    Daniel Simms

    Garmin-Slipstream boss details Tour de France stages

    Tour de France director Christian Prudhomme has put together a unique 21-stage parcours for this year's event, one that is sure to leave plenty of excitement for the final week.

    Cyclingnews asked Garmin-Slipstream boss Jonathan Vaughters to give his views on how each stage might play out. The American knows the final climb of the Tour well, having won the stage atop Mont Ventoux in the Dauphine twice in 1999 and 2000.

    Can he predict the future and see who will emerge victorious in Paris on July 26?

    "It has been a year of surprises, comebacks, admissions and upsets in cycling," said Vaughters. "Perhaps one of the hardest to predict years in cycling I’ve seen in a while. So, trying to suss out who will do what in the Tour won't be easy for me, that’s for sure.

    "As a rider I was never really good enough to analyze each stage, it was more a case of “hang on for dear life...sleep…repeat…” But now, I suppose I have a responsibility, for riders that are good enough to actually race the course, so here’s what I’ll be telling them to look for..."

    "Vaughters' views" can be seen beginning with our stage one profile.

  • Team leadership still an issue at Astana

    Alberto Contador knows he must show who's boss on stage one.
    Article published:
    July 03, 2009, 18:19 BST
    Hedwig Kröner

    Bruyneel maintains team unity

    At tomorrow's stage one of the 2009 Tour de France, Team Astana's Alberto Contador may be wearing the squad's number one backnumber, but the issue of leadership inside the outfit still seems unresolved.

    In the team's press conference in Monaco on Friday, attended only by team manager Johan Bruyneel and Alberto Contador, the Belgian team tactician maintained that the Spanish Grand Tour winner was the team's protected rider for general classification. But in an exclusive interview granted to French newspaper L'Equipe, Lance Armstrong said he was unaware of Contador being the team captain.

    "When we made the selection of the team, we made it very clear that Alberto would be the leader of the team at the start of the race," Bruyneel said. "He's wearing number 21, and I discussed this with Lance, that I wanted him to have the 21. It's a sign of how we value him and how we respect him for what he has done. We could have had an alphabetical order, just to avoid any polemics - but then Lance would have had the 21."

    In the French newspaper, however, Armstrong said that he did not understand why Bruyneel announced the Spaniard as the team's leader on the official Astana website. "I've asked Johan to explain that to me, because if there's going to be a leader, then everybody should know it," he was quoted as saying.

    "It would be better to be open and honest. If you say that there's a leader, that's it, then everyobody works for him. But this discussion never took place... Most people consider Alberto as the favourite and I think that he is the best stage race rider. But you shouldn't forget Leipheimer."

    Indeed, Astana has more than 'just' two riders able to contend for the top honours in Paris. There is also Levi Leipheimer and Andreas Klöden. "I wonder why everybody is focusing everything on Lance and Alberto," continued Bruyneel. "Let's not forget that there are other riders in other teams, and that we even have other...

  • Kelly Benefit Strategies dominate top five in Fitchburg opener

    Article published:
    July 03, 2009, 19:32 BST
    Kirsten Frattini

    Zirbel comes out on top again in 50th Longsjo classic

    Bissell's Tom Zirbel won the 50th Fitchburg Longsjo Classic's opening time trial on Thursday and took the early race lead ahead of a slew of Kelly Benefit Strategies riders. It was his second time trial victory since he took the win in the Nature Valley Grand Prix in June.

    KBS' Scott Zwizanski took second place, David Veilleux third and Zach Bell came fourth, setting up a favorable situation for that team in the road races. Zirbel acknowledged the tough competition he and his Bissell team are about face as the four-stage race continues in Massachusetts.

    "I was happy with the way I rode today," said Zirbel. "I think Kelly Benefit Strategies did a great job today too. So far they've done a lot of racing that we haven't been at, so it was nice to see them racing so well. I'm also really happy for Scott because he was an awesome teammate of mine for two years and he is riding really well. But, I'm glad I jabbed him in the time trial!"

    Zirbel won the 14-kilometre event in a time of 17:15 to take the overall lead with a 22-second margin ahead of Zwizanski and 32 seconds ahead of Veilleux.

    "It was good for me," Zirbel said. "It wasn't completely flat - a lot of undulations and rough in some parts. The way back was a lot tougher than the first half. But Kelly Benefit Strategies is going to be tough to deal with and they have a lot of options right now - It should be a fun weekend."

  • Powers back on top in Fitchburg

    US time trail champ Alison Powers (Team Type 1) finished second in the opening time trial.
    Article published:
    July 03, 2009, 19:32 BST
    Kirsten Frattini

    US TT champion tops women's field in opening stage

    Reigning US National Time Trial Champion Alison Powers (Team Type 1) hopes to maintain her early lead in the Fitchburg Longsjo Classic despite the tough competition that follows her after the opening time trial.

    Powers showed the Massachusetts crowds the reason why she wears the stars and stripes skinsuit, winning the opening 14-kilometre time trial ahead of Lip Smackers duo Evelyn Stevens and Anne Samplonius. French National Time Trial Champion, Jeannie Longo-Ciprelli (Vital Plus) placed a close fourth.

    "Lipsmackers can definitely make it a hard race," Powers said. "We've been working hard all season and even though we will have our work cut out for us, we feel very ready. It is such a close race between the top five and there are three more stages with time bonuses at the finish. A couple seconds here and there and you can move ahead or back."

    Powers placed second to Kristin Armstrong in the Tour of the Gila in May and the Nature Valley Grand Prix in June. She won her first overall title at the Joe Martin Stage Race in May and, since Armstrong is off racing in Italy, hopes to continue that success this weekend. "It's hard to win with Kristin around," Powers said. "This is a race she was not coming to. I targeted the Joe Martin and Fitchburg races to try to be able to win. Hopefully I'm able to go on and win the overall here."

    Powers has not competed at the Fitchburg Longsjo Classic in the past, as she is normally in Europe with the US National Team racing at the conflicting Giro d' Italia Femminile. "I've been in Europe most of the season in the past and I'm really happy to be able to race here in the states, being with my family and loved ones," Powers said.  "I haven't been able to do that the past two summers and it is really special this year."