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First Edition Cycling News, Friday, June 24, 2011

Date published:
June 24, 2011, 1:00 BST
  • Video Wiggins back to his best for Tour de France

    Bradley Wiggins shows off the new paint job on his Pinarello and a little midriff too
    Article published:
    June 23, 2011, 19:05 BST
    Stephen Farrand

    Briton confident after learning from the mistakes of 2010

    Bradley Wiggins is convinced he can be an overall contender in this year's Tour de France after both he and Team Sky learnt from their mistakes of 2010.

    Wiggins was named as team leader of the British team on Thursday and talked to media at Kew Gardens in London, after Team Sky unveiled a special green kit and bike colours that promotes Sky's Rainforest Rescue campaign.

    Last year Wiggins was tense and nervous as he approached his first Tour de France with Team Sky, secretly knowing that riding the Giro d'Italia had left him tired and struggling with his form. With a new coaching set-up helping and him and his confidence boosted by overall success at the Criterium du Dauphine, he now seems like the rider who shocked the cycling world by finishing fourth in the 2009 Tour de France.

    "A year ago I was sat here knowing that it wasn’t going to happen for me. But I still had to portray that it was. That's difficult because I knew I'd look stupid when it all went wrong," he confessed.

    "It's a completely different contrast to last year. Last year I was basically not ready for one reason or another. This year we've really prepared for it and hopefully got it right."

    Wiggins is fully focused on the Tour de France but has targeted and won other races during the season. A change of strategy that came after a detailed analysis of what went wrong in 2010.

    "I finished fourth in 2009 off my own back and so I thought I knew it all. And I came into this team and was surrounded by people who said yes to me all the time," Wiggins explained.

    "I did the Giro last year...

  • AFLD and UCI ink anti-doping pact for Tour de France

    The doping control van isn't hard to miss.
    Article published:
    June 23, 2011, 20:40 BST
    Cycling News

    Agencies to carry out similar number of tests to 2010

    The International Cycling Union (UCI) and the French Anti-doping Agency (AFLD) have formalised an agreement to perform the doping controls at the 2011 Tour de France together.

    UCI physician Mario Zorzoli confirmed the news at a press conference, the AP reported, and said the pact calls for a number of controls similar to the 2010 race to be performed, approximately 500.

    The reports did not mention whether the two agencies would take action on any of the recommendations made by the World Anti-Doping Agency's independent observers after the 2010 Tour de France.

    The observers were brought in because of a conflict between the AFLD and UCI that arose after the race was run outside the control of the UCI in 2008 where the AFLD was solely in control of anti-doping testing. That year the AFLD uncovered the use of a novel blood booster known as CERA, and was able to find a number of riders positive during and after the race.

    When the UCI took over the following year in 2009, then-AFLD president Pierre Bordry was critical of the UCI's controllers, accusing them of favoritism toward Lance Armstrong's Astana team.

    The UCI responded by allowing the independent observers in the 2010 edition. The only doping positive from the 2010 event was that of winner Alberto Contador, whose clenbuterol case is still pending arbitration.

    Its final report of the observers was released last October, and it made a number of recommendations for improvement, most notably that the riders who were rated as the highest risk were not tested enough. Earlier this year, a list ranking the 2010 Tour de...

  • Thomas Dekker to return in Sint-Niklaas

    Article published:
    June 23, 2011, 22:07 BST
    Cycling News

    Dutch rider still without a team after doping suspension

    Dutch rider Thomas Dekker will make his comeback to the sport at the 80th Grote Prijs Stad St. Niklaas, a Belgian kermis, on July 6 following his two-year doping suspension.

    The 26-year-old made the announcement in Amsterdam today at the signing of his new book Schoon Genoeg (Clean Enough) and the screening of a documentary called Niemand kent mij (Nobody knows me), which will air on Nederlands 3 on Monday.

    Formerly of the Belgian Silence-Lotto team, Dekker is currently serving a ban for EPO that expires on July 2. He was caught as part of a targeted testing of his prior samples after examinations of his blood passport with the UCI showed irregular values.

    After initially denying doping, Dekker finally admitted to using EPO over the course of two years prior to his testing positive, but insists that he is capable of top results without doping. He aims to come back to the peloton and be like David Millar - a rider who has admitted to prior sins but has gone on to advocate for a clean sport.

    "He is an example, he's popular and is widely accepted in the peloton," Dekker said of Millar according to Novum. "It will be nice to get back to racing. That's the most important thing - I need competition. I have no idea how other riders in the peloton will react to me when I return."

    Dekker has been linked with Garmin-Cervélo or its developmental team, which sought to sign him until examinations of his blood passport came up abnormal. The Slipstream Sports CEO Jonathan Vaughters confirmed earlier this year that he was tracking Dekker's physiological testing, but...

  • Championships an important test for Contador

    Alberto Contador is focused on the Tour de France for now.
    Article published:
    June 24, 2011, 0:32 BST
    Cycling News

    Spaniard revving back up for Tour de France

    Alberto Contador will start his Spanish national championships in both the time trial and road race this week, and is using the races as preparation for the upcoming Tour de France.

    Contador said he is particularly aiming for the time trial, which takes place on Friday, but is unsure of his form after a taking long break from competition after his overall victory in the Giro d'Italia.

    "At the time trial I'll go full gas and we will see the result. I spent a month out of competition; I rested a lot but I'm sure I will notice the pace of those who have come from the Dauphiné and the Tour of Switzerland, but I hope to do well," he said.

    At age 29, Contador has only one elite national title to his name, having won the time trial in 2009.

    The races will be his final ones prior to the Tour de France, which begins on July 2.

    "It always helps to do a full gas test at the time trial, especially since on the second day [of the Tour] we have the team time trial and so you get into the position of the bike."

    Contador said his national time trial reminds him of the one in Grenoble which was used in the Critérium du Dauphiné and will be the second to last stage of the Tour.

    "There are about 500 or 600 metres of climbing in just over 40km and it's a course that suits me," Contador said. "As for the road race, it doesn't suit my characteristics, but is good for sprinters that can get over medium mountains. My goal will be to find my rhythm and to roll a little."

    Contador admitted he's been feeling quite a bit of fatigue since the Giro, but that it will be a "mystery" as to how he will respond to the competition.

    Joining him at the national championships will be his

  • HTC-Highroad searching for a sponsor

    The HTC-Highroad team on the start podium
    Article published:
    June 24, 2011, 8:50 BST
    Cycling News

    Stapleton says team may fold if no sponsor found by end of Tour de France

    Bob Stapleton and his team HTC-Highroad have joined the list of those with sponsor problems. The US-based team may well have to close down after this season if no new sponsor comes forward, Stapleton said.

    "If we haven't secured a sponsor by the end of the Tour de France, we will have to sit down and start considering how to wind down operations," Stapleton told the AFP news agency.

    "The world's best team, a leader in the sport for the past several years, needs a title partner."

    Since 2008, the HTC mens' and womens' teams have brought in a total of 460 wins, including nearly 50 stage victories in the three Grand Tours.

    The team started the 2008 season under the name Highroad, after the management company. Sportswear producer Columbia joined as a title sponsor the middle of that season, with telecommunications company HTC joining in 2009. Columbia dropped out after last season, and HTC's sponsorship deal expires at the end of this year.

    Negotiations with HTC for an extension are underway, but Stapleton said that he still has “many sleepless nights” over the sponsorship issue.

    Stapleton said that cycling presents a unique marketing opportunity for a sponsor, “in that you have valuable naming rights. Sponsors can be on Manchester United's jersey for a lot of money, but the team is still going to be called Manchester United.”

    "It's literally hundreds of thousands of repetitions of your brand name on the internet, on television, and in global media.”

    The main problem that he faces is doping and cycling's reputation. “We have a lot to offer. But we have to shout that story out over the controversy that seems to surround the sport."

    "The consistent...

  • Skil-Shimano extends with Kittel and Geniez

    A jubilant Marcel Kittel (Skil-Shimano) upon winning stage 3
    Article published:
    June 24, 2011, 10:14 BST
    Cycling News

    Young riders to stay with Dutch Professional Continental team

    Skil-Shimano has extended its contract with German sprinting sensation Marcel Kittel and French climber Alexandre Geniez. The Dutch Professional Continental-ranked team said that it is now “sure of the services” of the two young riders for the coming season.

    Kittel, 23, is in his first Professional Continental year. In 2010, he won both the German and World titles in the individual time trials, but it is as a sprinter that he is making his mark this year. He has eight wins so far this season, including the premiere ProRace Berlin and the overall title in the Delta Tour Zeeland. Kittel also won four of the five stages of the Four Days of Dunkirk. He extended for two years, through the 2013 season.

    Geniez, also 23, “has a great future in the big stage races,” according to the team's website. He finished second overall in the Tour of Luxembourg, fourth in the Criterium International, fifth in the Circuit Cycliste de la Sarthe and sixth overall in the Vuelta Ciclista a Murcia.

  • Hoste still suffering headaches from Three Days of De Panne crash

    Leif Hoste (Katusha)
    Article published:
    June 24, 2011, 10:42 BST
    Cycling News

    Katusha rider unable to train or race

    Leif Hoste has barely raced since crashing out of the Three Days of De Panne. The Katusha riders suffers a “splitting headache” if he trains for more than two hours at a time.

    The Belgian crashed heavily on the first stage of the race the end of March, suffering a concussion with a hard blow to the head. He lost a tooth and had a wound above his right eye. After the crash he rode the Tour of Flanders and did not finish Paris-Roubaix, which was his last race this season.

    When he goes out on his bike, “I'm back after two hours, guaranteed. With a splitting headache,” he told Het Nieuwsblad. “I can ride but a recreational cyclist wouldn't have any problem keeping up with me. I can't go on. Not with intensive training.”

    Scans taken at the time of the accident showed no damage, and that continues to be the case. "The good news: there is not an injury. There have been all kinds of brain scans done, and there is no permanent damage. But from the EEC-scans show that I still have the after-effects of a concussion. How long that will last, I do not know. "

    It is not the first serious crash for the 33-year-old , and he is concerned as to how his new team will take it. “I really wanted to prove myself,” he said, adding that it “is no fun” to call the team management “to say I have a headache. That sounds so strange for a rider. A broken leg or a torn muscle, which you can at least see. Headache, that's so ... You can't prove it. "

    His contract with the Russian team runs through 2012, but he is worried about what might happened if he is unable to race. Still his priority is “to sort out my body. Period.”

  • US teams' Belgian riders free to ride in national championships

    Sébastien Rosseler (RadioShack) on the podium for winning the final stage time trial.
    Article published:
    June 24, 2011, 11:07 BST
    Cycling News

    Belgian federation asks UCI for advice on unpaid social security obligations

    The three Belgian riders employed by American teams will be allowed to start this weekend in the Belgian national races. The Belgian cycling federation denied media reports that the riders would be banned for unpaid social security contributions.

    “Contrary to reports in the media, the Royal Belgian Cycling Federation (KBWB) has not prohibited riders Ben Hermans, Jan Ghyselinck and Sebastien Rosseler from participating in the Belgian Championship Sunday in Hooglede-Gits,” the federation said in a press release issued Thursday evening.

    The KBWB has informed the UCI that the social security payments for those riders are not in order and has transferred the case to the UCI. "We have asked for legal advice from the UCI for their standpoint, and the KBWB will wait for that standpoint.”

    The UCI's Executive Committee is expected to discuss the matter next Wednesday.

    Pro riders in Belgium are required to make payments to the national social security system, while US riders are not.

    Hermans and Rosseler ride for Team RadioShack, and Ghyselinck for HTC-Highroad.