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First Edition Cycling News, Friday, March 16, 2012

Date published:
March 16, 2012, 0:00 GMT
  • Cunego to form Nibali alliance at Milan-San Remo?

    Damiano Cunego (Lampre) at the start
    Article published:
    March 15, 2012, 18:03 GMT
    Cycling News

    Italian a late addition to Lampe-ISD roster

    A late addition to the Lampre-ISD team for Milan-San Remo, Damiano Cunego admitted that he could find an ally of circumstance on the Italian Riviera on Saturday in the shape of Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas-Cannondale).

    Nibali was an impressive winner of Tirreno-Adriatico early in the week and the Sicilian has been in the full glare of an expectant home media in the build-up to La Primavera. For his part, Cunego decided to line up at Milan-San Remo after giving encouraging signs of his own form in the final days of Paris-Nice.

    “Vincenzo is in great form, his morale will be sky high after winning Tirreno-Adriatico,” Cunego told Gazzetta dello Sport. “I’ve read that he has already committed himself and said that he’ll have a go. Everyone will be watching him. They won’t be looking at me so much, and I’m not sorry about that. In any case, we could have the same interests and try something together.”

    Remarkably, Saturday marks only the third time that Cunego has taken part in Milan-San Remo, testament to the specialised nature of modern cycling. “I came out of Paris-Nice well, and a lot of my teammates have physical problems at the moment, like Pietropolli and Petacchi himself, so the management proposed this to me,” Cunego said.

    Cunego’s previous tilts at Milan-San Remo came in 2006 and 2010, and on each occasion, the man from Cerro Veronese failed to make any significant impact. “Two years ago, I came to the start with some ambitions, but I fell on the descent of the Turchino and I used up a lot of energy getting back on,” he recalled.

    Cunego is adamant that the...

  • Video: Cavendish likens Milan San Remo to Italian opera

    World champion Mark Cavendish (Sky) awaits the start in Martinsicuro.
    Article published:
    March 15, 2012, 19:50 GMT
    Cycling News

    Eisel and his teammate discuss La Classicissima

    Sky Procycling  teammates Mark Cavendish and Bernhard Eisel talked about Milan-San Remo two days before the race, with the world champion comparing the drama and pace of the Monument to an opera.

    "Milan-San Remo is the perfect example of an Italian race. It is kind of like an opera," said Cavendish. "There is a beginning, a middle and an end. The beginning gets you into it and gets you into a rhythm and then it builds up toward the end."

    "You have to think all the time - you have to conserve energy as much as possible."

    As racers approach the decisive Cipressa climb, riding in the peloton can get a bit sketchy.  "People want to race up the climb to be first to the top so you can be at the front for the descent," said Eisel. "As we've seen the past few years, no one really gets away on the climb anymore. If you are too far back, it's a really fast and dangerous downhill."

    "You just have to hope no one crashes in front of you," said Cavendish, who added that the real racing starts when the peloton hits the coast.

    "The corners all look the same and sometimes you know where you are and what's coming up next, sometimes you don't," said Eisel of the descent.

    "It's flat out from that point on and there is no recovery," summed up Cavendish, who previously stated his goal of winning the Classic as the world champion.

    Video courtesy of IG Markets

  • Gallery: Boonen's Milan - San Remo Specialized Venge McLaren

    Tom Boonen poses with his Specialized Venge McLaren
    Article published:
    March 16, 2012, 1:13 GMT
    Cycling News

    Belgian speaks ahead of La Primavera

    Tom Boonen (Omega-Pharma – QuickStep) held a press conference in Milan ahead of his tilt at a first-ever Milan - San Remo title where the Belgian hopes his equipment will give him an edge over his rivals.

    Boonen has returned to form in 2012, following a frustrating 2011 where he was dogged by injury and bad luck and has already collected five wins for the season. He is hoping that he can turn his previous two podium appearances (2007 – 3rd, 2010 – 2nd) into another classics victory. Speaking at the McLaren showroom in Milan, the 31-year-old said that his rig for this weekend, will go a long way to putting him in position for the expected bunch sprint to the finish.

    "Specialized Venge McLaren is the fastest I've ridden, that's the main thing," Boonen said. "It saves you a lot of energy. It saves you about 25 watts which is pretty huge, especially on long stages like Milan-San Remo. Seven hours on the bike, if you save as much energy as possible it will give you extra speed on the finish. The characters of the bike is it's very strong on the bottom bracket. It's a perfect bike for me. I like it."

    Boonen collected his 100th win on the second stage of Paris – Nice, showing that he was on schedule to perform well in the classics but he explained that it was not the racing itself which makes the difference heading into Saturday’s event.

    "After Paris-Nice the recovery really helps you. It's not the racing, it's the recovery. I had a good week now and I hope to have a good result Saturday, and then it's off to Belgium for the cobbled Classics."

    Boonen’s chances of victory in the

  • Ekimov directs his team pursuit successors in Taiwan

    Ekimov has had time to indulge his other passion while in Taiwan, photography
    Article published:
    March 16, 2012, 4:27 GMT
    Jean-François Quénet

    Russian team gearing up for track worlds

    Having become a supervisor of the Russian global cycling project after the merger between RadioShack and Leopard-Trek, Viatcheslav Ekimov is back to his roots as he directs the pursuiters under the banner of Rusvelo at the Tour de Taiwan ahead of the UCI Track World Championships to be held in Melbourne from April 4 to 8.

    2012 being an Olympic year, Ekimov, 46, remembers his first years of glory as he won the gold medal at the Seoul Olympics in 1988 with his team-mates Gintautas Umaras, Arturas Kasputis and Dimitri Nielubin, carrying the flag of the Soviet Union. 24 years on, with another gold medal in his bag at the 2000 Sydney Olympics for individual time trial, he directs the Russians whose dream is just as big as his. Artur Ershov, Alexey Markov, Alexander Serov and the Kovalev brothers are among the favourites for both the World's in Melbourne and the London Olympics.

    "Since they won the world cup in Astana in 3.56, everyone knows what they're able to do", Ekimov told Cyclingnews. "The only question is: which medal will they get? For now, Russia is one of the four favourites with Australia, Great Britain and New Zealand."

    "It's a very big year for us", Ekimov continued. "Due to the busy schedule of Rusvelo's team manager Heiko Salzwedel, I'm here to help the guys to perform. I was also personally interested to come to Taiwan for the first time. I like this country. I'm impressed by how organized and clean it is. There's no trash and not a single leftover of a cigarette on the road." The golden boy from Vyborg also enjoys the Asian island for the second...

  • Broken collarbone for Matt Lloyd

    Matt Lloyd (Lampre-ISD) on home roads at the Santos Tour Down Under.
    Article published:
    March 16, 2012, 6:19 GMT
    Jane Aubrey

    Australian confident of a quick recovery

    Lampre – ISD's Matt Lloyd has confirmed to Cyclingnews that he is suffering a broken collarbone following a crash at Paris – Nice.

    Lloyd fell coming out of a blind corner on Stage 7, with his right shoulder taking the brunt of the impact. The Australian could be seen standing on the side of the road when Levi Leipheimer and several of his Omega Pharma – QuickStep teammates rounded the same corner and crashed into the gendarme who had been sitting on his motorbike behind Lloyd.

    "My collarbone is broken," Lloyd said via text message. "Had it been nasty I wouldn't have finished the stage."

    He eventually got back on his bike and rode into Nice nearly 17 minutes down on the winning time of Thomas De Gendt (Vacansoleil – DCM). Lloyd did not contend the final stage time trial.

    Lloyd told Cyclingnews that he was keen for it to be noted "with some clarity" that the injury would "not hinder any progress towards April, May and beyond."

    Prior to Paris-Nice, Lloyd said that was focussed on a return to the Giro d'Italia where he won a stage and the mountains classification in 2010.

    "Generally when you do have an objective like that if you take it too seriously it tends to be overwhelming for anyone, so I'm pretty relaxed about it," he explained. "There's no festering, deep-seeded thing in the back of my mind wanting to smash everything to pieces mainly because I know that it's relatively useless when it comes to riding your bike. I prefer to exploit the fact the race has a lot of climbs."

  • Defending champion Goss "in with a good shot" at Milan-San Remo

    Matt Goss (GreenEdge) has held the leader's jersey since stage 1.
    Article published:
    March 16, 2012, 9:15 GMT
    Jane Aubrey

    GreenEdge sprint ace training better than this time last season

    Matt Goss (GreenEdge) believes the equation is simple. In order to become the first man since Eric Zabel in 2001 to collect back-to-back victories at Milan-San Remo, he has only to be in the right position.

    "If I can get to the finish with the front group then I'm in with a good shot," he put succinctly to Cyclingnews.

    Goss made history in 2011, becoming the first Australian in the 102-year history of La Primavera to cross the line first. Then riding for HTC-Highroad, his victory over classics specialists Fabian Cancellara (Leopard-Trek) and Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma – Lotto) was a triumph. Biding his time in the 44-man lead group after the peloton was split by a crash before the start of Le Manie, Goss bided his time before an attack by Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas – Cannondale) splintered the contenders on the Poggio. Along with Gilbert, Cancellara, Filippo Pozzato (Katusha), Alessandro Ballan (BMC) and Michele Scarponi (Lampre-ISD), Goss fought to bridge the gap and then outwitted his highly-fancied rivals along the Lungomare Italo Calvino.

    "If I had had some better luck in Tirreno and won a stage then I'd have no choice [but to play his form down] but as it is I know that my fitness is good - as long as my health's good I know I'm going to be fine," Goss continued. "I'm not going to play things up or down. Everyone knows what's been happening and we'll see how everything goes on the day. As long as I'm healthy there's no reason why I can't be in the front group and if I am, then it's a good opportunity for the win."

    The 25-year-old will be on the start line in Milan having not contended the final day individual time trial of...

  • Boonen not afraid of Cavendish ahead of Milan-San Remo

    Tom Boonen in yellow in Paris-Nice.
    Article published:
    March 16, 2012, 11:00 GMT
    Cycling News

    Marks Sagan and Freire as main rivals

    Tom Boonen has one hundred career victories but one which is missing in his palmares is Milan-San Remo. The Omega Pharma-Quick Step rider is aiming to correct that tomorrow, but admits that the race is wide open. “The team is good, I'm ready. Only you never know whether that is enough to win Milan-San Remo."

    In an interview with Het Nieuwsblad, the 31-year-old emphasized that, saying, “I am close to my top form, but it is difficult to express in percentages. You can be good, but the finish is another thing. I will try, I'm ready, but you never know."

    He rates his chances as high: “Sure, I have confidence in a good result. I have been close there with a second and third place, but in the Italian classic you never know. It is a very nervous race. You must be constantly alert, have an eye for detail to win. "

    He sees his main competitors for the title as Oscar Freire (Katusha) and Peter Sagan (Liquigas-Cannondale), because “both of them can easily get over the Cipressa and Poggio.”

    Sky's Mark Cavendish is also a possibility. “Sure he is the fastest to the finish line. Everyone realizes that. But you never know,” Boonen said. Even if the race ends in the expected mass sprint, “you still do not know whether Cavendish can win. Intrinsically he is the fastest, but after three hundred kilometers it is a different sprint. I'm not afraid to measure myself against him.”

  • Leopard Trek management had no idea about cycling, Nygaard says

    Brian Nygaard - manager of Leopard Trek
    Article published:
    March 16, 2012, 13:07 GMT
    Cycling News

    Dane cites “absurd” situations from 2011 season

    The people behind Team Leopard Trek in 2011 were outsiders with no understanding of the sport, Brian Nygaard has told a Danish newspaper. He cited various “absurd” situations from the past year. 

    Nygaard was dismissed from the team last year when it merged with RadioShack and is now press spokesman for Team GreenEdge. He had served at Leopard Trek, responsible for “budget and results”.

    "The people who stood behind the team were not from inside the sport, and therefore there was no understanding that we did not win all the races we competed in. As a starting point, you might not blame them, but the way it was handled, was not very healthy,” he told Jyllands-Posten.

    One example he gave was from last year's Tirreno-Adriatico. Leopard Trek finished seventh in the opening time trial, with several riders falling back, unable to stay with the pace most often set by four-time world time trial champion Fabian Cancellara.

    Immediately after the team finished, Nygaard received a call from team management, who asked who the riders were who did not finish with their teammates. After Nygaard named them, he was told, “Ok. Run them to the train station and send them home. If they can not sit on the wheel, they are not good enough. They may come back when they are strong enough.”

    He first became aware of what it would be like when he applied for the ProTour licence, Nygaard said, according to the Jyllands-Posten. “The application process is a crazy administrative task, and it's damn easier to send people to the moon than to get a ProTour license. But we had mastered it, and we got a four-year license in the first try.

    “However, there was a daily panic from management, who said that we did it wrong and that we would not...