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First Edition Cycling News, Friday, June 18, 2010

Date published:
June 18, 2010, 1:00 BST
  • Tornado touchdown cancels Nature Valley's third stage

    Riders stop as they try to figure out exactly what's going on.
    Article published:
    June 18, 2010, 7:13 BST
    Kirsten Frattini

    Riders' safety first priority for organisers

    Race officials cancelled the pro-elite men and women's Cannon Falls Road Race after the National Weather Service announced tornado warnings and severe thunderstorm between 5:00pm and 9:00pm Central Standard Time (CST) on Thursday in the Saint Paul-Minneapolis, Minnesota and the surrounding areas.

    The Doppler radar forecast showed a tornado, high winds and severe thunderstorms for nearby cities of Mankato, Saint Cloud, Brainerd and Albert Lea, all with in 20km of Saint Paul-Minneapolis. The weather watch was issued at 6:00pm CST, approximately one hour after the start of the pro-elite men's race and before the start of the corresponding women's race held in Cannon Falls. It was reported that a tornado touched down approximately eight kilometres from the event site.

    Alison Starnes (Tibco-To the Top) and Scott Zwizanski (Kelly Benefit Strategies) were leading the women and men's overall classification, respectively. Both riders won the opening nine kilometre Saint Paul River Front time trial yesterday morning and held onto their respective race leads during the stage two criterium held in Downtown Saint Paul that same evening.

    The stage three road race was scheduled to take the peloton through Goodhue County and finish on a series of four circuits in Cannon Falls. The men's race started at 5:00pm CST under windy conditions that progressed to dark skies, hail and high winds roughly one hour into the 104km race.

    Race officials issued an announcement over RadioTour canceling the men's race and subsequently turned the peloton around to ride back to the start-finish line in Cannon Falls. However, the exclusion of race radio this year made it difficult for directeur sportifs to effectively communicate with their respective riders regarding the race officials' decision to cancel the race.

    "We don't have radios so a police officer came up to us and told us the race was being called off because of a tornado," said overall leader...

  • Gesink nets biggest win at Tour de Suisse

    Robert Gesink (Rabobank) dons the leader's jersey of the Tour de Suisse.
    Article published:
    June 18, 2010, 7:22 BST
    Shane Stokes

    Dutch rider delighted with stage victory and yellow jersey

    Rabobank's Robert Gesink has described his stage win on day six of the Tour de Suisse as a hugely significant day in his career.

    Having promised much last season he was hampered by crashes and injury during 2010, but the Dutchman is enjoying a purple patch that has seen him take the queen stage at this year's Tour de Suisse. "For me, this is the biggest victory that I ever had," he enthused at the post-stage press conference in La Punt on Thursday.

    "This is a big victory [in itself], and also because of the way I won. It was very special to ride away on the climb and stay away, coming into La Punt solo. Also of course the level of the other opponents here is really high, which also makes it very satisfying. This is a ProTour race, so that is a big difference."

    The 24-year-old was unmatched on the final climb of the stage, the hors categorie Albulapass. He was able to reel in an early attack by Andy Schleck (Saxo Bank), then struck out alone and had built a lead of 1:10 by the top of the climb.

    A big chase group behind containing riders such as Lance Armstrong (RadioShack), Fränk Schleck (Saxo Bank) and Roman Kreuziger (Liquigas) worked hard together to reduce his advantage, but he still had 42 seconds of that lead when he smoothened his jersey, threw his arms in the air and began celebrating.

    "Yesterday I was talking to Nico Verhoeven, one of the two directors of the team, and said that I had planned to do an early attack on the Albulapass. He said that I should wait a little," he explained.

    "Then Andy Schleck attacked real early. I tried to follow him, he went really fast. We went away in a breakaway of five or six guys, and then all the general classification guys came back to us. Schleck went again, I bridged the gap to him, then we came to Garate, my team-mate who was in the lead.

    "That is a kind of special story as we already agreed yesterday that he would be in the break. To be in the move is not...

  • Schleck's form better than previous years

    Saxo Bank teammates Jakob Fuglsang and Andy Schleck sign in.
    Article published:
    June 18, 2010, 8:49 BST
    Shane Stokes

    Tour contender happy with test on stage six

    Despite losing time to the other race contenders on Thursday’s stage to La Punt at the Tour de Suisse, Andy Schleck has said that he is pleased with his condition and is on course for a strong Tour de France.

    He was aggressive from the bottom of the day’s final climb, the Hors Categorie Albulapass, surging clear, being joined by Robert Gesink (Rabobank) and then by several other riders, then attacking once more. Gesink caught and passed him and he was then reeled in by the other contenders, eventually dropping back going over the top.

    All in all, he said that he had a good chance to assess his form. “We had a couple of objectives today, with the first to see how Fabian would be set for the finish,” he told a group of journalists in La Punt. “When he said it was okay, that he couldn’t climb, I attacked. I wanted to do a little test today, so I attacked and got into a group, but the final col was a little longer than I had hoped. I kept going but Gesink got up to me and attacked right away. At that moment I was a little finished.

    “I got into the group with Frank but when they attacked in the final kilometres, I lacked a bit of force as I had been riding a lot since the start of the climb. But okay, it is a good test for me and I am pretty happy.”

    The Luxembourg road race champion eventually crossed the finish line with team-mate Jakob Fuglsang and RadioShack’s Andeas Klöden. They were one minute 20 behind Gesink and 38 seconds off the chasing group of eight riders, led home by Rigoberto Uran (Caisse d’Epargne) and also containing Lance Armstrong (RadioShack), Frank Schleck (Saxo Bank) and Roman Kreuziger (Liquigas).

    He felt that if the parcours was a little more typical, with the climb being immediately followed by the descent, that he probably would have been okay as regards the time loss. “I was dropped near the top but was just behind. But the fact is...

  • Feillu disappointed over Vuelta non-selection

    Brice Feillu (Vacansoleil) put in a solid solo move, but the climb was just too long.
    Article published:
    June 18, 2010, 10:11 BST
    Hedwig Kröner

    Vacansoleil rider experiences 'average' season

    Brice Feillu of the Vacansoleil team hasn't had a fantastic season so far this year. The Frenchman, a brilliant climber, in fact qualified it as "average so far", explaining that neither his performances, nor the team's race programme are going according to plan in 2010. Vacansoleil suffered a second blow after their non-selection to the Tour de France when it was announced this week that they were not invited to the Vuelta a Espana, either.

    "This non-selection [for the Vuelta - ed.] is another additional disappointment," Feillu told French Cyclismag on Thursday morning at the start of stage six of the Tour de Suisse. An hour later, he was one of the 13 men in a breakaway in the queen stage of the event, almost holding off the chasers to the finish in La Punt.

    "2010 will remain a somewhat special year. It's not a catastrophe, either. We'll make up for it next year," the 2009 Tour de France stage winner continued, but his disappointment showed.

    Feillu has been on the attack twice in the Tour de Suisse until now. On Tuesday - one day after the announcement - the Frenchman rode in front of the bunch on his own during 160 kilometres of the stage, only to be caught with 25 kilometres to go for a sprint finale.

    After a brilliant 2009 season with Agritubel, the 24-year-old and his older brother Romain opted to sign with the Vacansoleil squad in the hope of team leadership at the Grand Tours. But Tour de France organiser ASO snubbed the Dutch outfit, just like Vuelta organiser Unipublic.

    "Maybe we made a mistake - but everyone makes mistakes," he commented on his choice of team in the light of its non-selection. "It's never easy to make a decision in life. If the team had been selected for the Tour, people would have said 'great, with this team at least you are the leaders'."

    Feillu's first half of the season also remained somewhat anonymous as the lean climber found it hard to compete in the cold - and European...

  • Sky Tour line-up takes shape

    Bradley Wiggins (Team Sky) before the stage
    Article published:
    June 18, 2010, 11:23 BST
    Cycling News

    Selection of eight riders reported definite as Wiggins recons the route

    According to the Guardian, eight of the nine Team Sky riders to compete in the Tour de France have already been decided by the team principal Dave Brailsford.

    Bradley Wiggins will lead the squad in their debut Tour, with Juan Antonio Flecha, Edvald Boasson Hagen, Kurt Asle Arvesen, Thomas Löfkvist, Steve Cummings and Simon Gerrans all said to be definitely nominated. Still under consideration are Michael Barry, Sylvain Calzati and Greg Henderson.

    The team's leader will be supported by the experienced Flecha and Arvesen, together with Cummings, who is making his Tour debut. Löfkvist and Gerrans will provide back-up for the Englishman in the mountains. Boasson Hagen is expected to challenge for stage wins, as will Henderson, the team's sprinter, if he is selected.,

    Wiggins has stepped up his preparation this week with a reconnaissance of the Tour de France's key mountain stages. He started with the Alpine stages on Monday, then travelled to the Pyrenees and will finish his recon ride on Saturday by checking out the route of the penultimate time trial in Bordeaux.

    Seven team staff, along with two team-mates in Cummings and Barry, have joined him in his meticulous preparation. Last year, Wiggins did not ride any of the Tour parcours in advance, which proved to be a disadvantage later when he was competing for the overall win.

  • Ciolek said to move to Omega Pharma-Lotto in 2011

    Article published:
    June 18, 2010, 11:27 BST
    Susan Westemeyer

    Milram denies sprinter's alleged plans for next season.

    Gerald Ciolek is said to have signed with Omega Pharma-Lotto for the coming season,according to the Belgian newspaper Gazet van Antwerpen. Such a signing would seem to indicate that Team Milram will not continue as a ProTour team next year.  Milram has denied that Ciolek has signed with another team.

    The German ProTour team is losing its sponsor as of the end of 2010. General Manager Gerry van Gerwen reiterated that he would make his announcement on the Tour de France's second rest day, and would not comment until then. The possibility still exists that Nordmilch AG would be willing to stay on as a partial sponsor, and van Gerwen has said he is conducting promising negotiations with a potential new sponsor.

    Van Gerwen denied the story to the German dpa news agency.  “I asked Gerald. He told me there is nothing to it.  As long as I can't make our riders a concrete offer for the comng season, then of course they are free to talk to anyone.  But before they sign somewhere else, they must listen to my offer.”

    The Belgian team did not respond to Cyclingnews' request for a comment on the story.

    Ciolek, 23, is one of the team's two captains. He has only one win this season, a stage in the Bayern Rundfahrt. He first burst onto the scene by winning the German national road title in 2005 as an 18-year-old riding with the Continental team Akud Arnolds Sicherheit. The next season he won the U-23 World title in Salzburg.

    The sprinter moved up to the ProTour in 2007 with T-Mobile Team, later Team Columbia. In the fall of 2008 he signed with Milram, along with teammate Linus Gerdemann, who became the other Milram captain.

    Omega Pharma-Lotto has been searching for a new sprinter since Robbie McEwen left them for Katusha in 2009. The Belgian team is also said to be interested in signing HTC-Columbia's Andre Greipel.

  • Mazzoleni, Elisa Basso plea-bargain in drug-dealing case

    Eddy Mazzoleni
    Article published:
    June 18, 2010, 12:28 BST
    Cycling News

    Pair escapes jail sentences, Mazzoleni must pay fine

    Former rider Eddy Mazzoleni and his wife Elisa Basso, sister of Giro d'Italia winner Ivan Basso, have plea-bargained for lighter sentences for their role in a drug-dealing ring in northern Italy.

    Mazzoleni was sentenced to four months and a fine, and Basso to one year and a fine, for selling illegal drugs and banned substances. Under the arrangement, the prison sentences are waived, and Mazzoleni must pay a fine of 6,560 Euro.

    Ivan Basso, suspended for his involvement in Operación Puerto from 2007 to 2009, was not involved in the investigation.

    The sentences stem from Operazione Athena, which began in 2005 and investigated a drug dealing ring in several gyms in the Bergamo and Como area of northern Italy.

    Mazzoleni finished third in the 2007 Giro d'Italia behind Danilo Di Luca. He retired in July that year and was subsequently banned for two years for his involvement in the Oil for Drugs investigation in Italy. The couple now runs a restaurant in the Bergamo area.

    The case involves 29 individuals, of whom 14 chose to plea-bargain and nine took an abbreviated trial, with the rest going to trial. The latter group includes pro rider Luca Paolini, who is accused of buying using banned substances including EPO in July 2005.

  • Gesink pleased with first day in yellow

    Rabobank protects its leader Robert Gesink
    Article published:
    June 18, 2010, 20:11 BST
    Shane Stokes

    Hopes to maintain lead tomorrow

    Team Rabobank's Robert Gesink enjoyed his first day in the yellow jersey at the Tour de Suisse, finishing in the bunch alongside all of the main contenders and thus preserving his buffer in the general classification. He ended the day as he started it: 29 seconds up on Rigoberto Uran (Caisse d'Epargne), 36 ahead of Steve Morabito (BMC Racing) and 38 up on his next rival, Frank Schleck (Saxo Bank).

    Today was the second time Gesink rode in the yellow jersey in a major stage race. He held the lead for two stages in the 2008 Paris-Nice, but lost it and eventually finished fourth overall. This time round, he seemed content with his ride. "I had the leader's jersey in Paris-Nice but that didn't go so well," he said in a post-race press conference this evening. "This is the second time in my career that I am in a yellow jersey."

    The day worked out well in that his team was able to place two riders in the breakaway. Oscar Freire and Tom Leezer went away in a 16-man break, so they could monitor the situation there. Behind, the rest of the team had to simply manage the gap and make sure it didn't grow too large.

    "The day worked out well for us," said Gesink, who appeared relaxed and to have enjoyed his first day at the top of the leaderboard. "It took a while before the group got away, so before that it was not easy…there is always a lot of stress until the break gets established."

    Perhaps the toughest part of the day for him was the weather. Today's stage saw heavy periods of rain plus cool temperatures, and this ratcheted up the discomfort levels for many.

    "In the beginning, it was no problem but after 100 kilometres, it was really cold," he said. "The whole peloton was complaining about the cold and the bad conditions we were riding in. Luckily when we came on the lap, the weather improved and the roads were almost dry. So in the end the weather wasn't a problem any more.

    "Anyway, I think a lot of my teammates were...