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First Edition Cycling News, Friday, March 26, 2010

Date published:
March 26, 2010, 0:00 GMT
  • Burghardt vows to have big Belgian weekend

    Marcus Burghardt talks with the media
    Article published:
    March 26, 2010, 5:17 GMT
    Daniel Benson

    German using weekend’s races as platform for Flanders, Roubaix bids

    Marcus Burghardt will help spearhead BMC Racing Team at this year’s cobbled Classics, starting with the E3 Prijs Vlaanderen – Harelbeke, Gent-Wevelgem double this weekend. Burghardt will start alongside Alessandro Ballan and George Hincapie in a BMC squad, which, on paper at least, is one of the strongest teams for the spring.

    Burghardt was a winner of Wevelgem in 2007 and won a stage of the Tour de France in 2008. A frustrating year followed but a move from HTC-Columbia to BMC has reignited his hunger for success before Harelbeke this Saturday.

    “This year things will be a lot different, with Harelbeke and Wevelgem on the same weekend,” Burghardt told Cyclingnews from the BMC hotel in Kortrijk, Belgium. “I’ll go full gas at Harelbeke and I won’t think about Wevelgem until the first race is out of the way. After that I’ll hope I’ve got good legs but I think that some riders will do just Wevelgem and could be better for Sunday.

    “For me, Harelbeke is a better race, it’s harder and if you’re in good shape there then you’ll be good in Flanders,” said Burghardt, who is clearly in aggressive mood. “I hope that I’m at 100 per cent for Flanders and Roubaix but at the moment I have good condition and hope that I can do well this weekend.”

    Despite Burghardt’s bullish mood his real aims for the spring campaign are in April with the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix at the top of his wish list. Despite not cracking the top 50 of Roubaix before, he has finished in the top 10 at Flanders.

    “Roubaix it’s one of the biggest races in the world and if you win that then you’re the most complete rider in the world. You must be strong on the cobbles, you need a lot of power and, you need a good understanding for the race and have to have a good sprint.”

    However with Ballan, a previous winner of...

  • UCI appeals Swiss decision to close Ullrich investigation

    A satisfied Jan Ullrich speaks to the press after his Tour de Suisse win
    Article published:
    March 26, 2010, 8:16 GMT
    Cycling News

    CAS asked to decide whether closure was right

    The International Cycling Union (UCI) has appealed the decision of the Swiss Olympic Committee to close its investigation of former rider Jan Ullrich on doping charges. The Swiss anti-doping agency, Antidoping-Schweiz, has joined the appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sports (CAS).

    The investigation stems from Ullrich's alleged involvement with Operación Puerto and Dr Eufemiano Fuentes. The disciplinary committee of Swiss Olympic ruled last month that it had no jurisdiction over Ullrich, since he had quit his membership in the national federation, Swiss Cycling, in 2006.

    UCI spokesman Enrico Carpani confirmed the appeal to the German news agency dpa. “The UCI does not agree with Swiss Cycling's decision to close the process. We expect a decision one way or the other,” he said.

    The CAS would not decide whether Ullrich was involved in doping, but would concentrate as to whether the investigation should be re-opened or not. The date for a decision is not yet known.

  • Armstrong guides team at Redlands prologue

    2009 women's time trial world champion Kristin Armstrong (United States of America).
    Article published:
    March 26, 2010, 10:20 GMT
    Kirsten Frattini

    World Time Trial Champion expecting her first child

    Current World Time Trial Champion Kristin Armstrong delivered some valuable time trialing advice as directeur sportif of Peanut Butter & Co TWENTY12 before the start of the Redlands Bicycle Classic prologue on Thursday, March 25. She retired from professional bike racing following her world title last year and is expecting the arrival of her first child this fall.

    "I'm pregnant so no racing for me this year," Armstrong said. "Directing this team makes it really easy for me to be apart of the cycling environment and take a natural transition. As much as I want to race, it's
    okay to take a break. But, I have competitive blood in me and I pre-road the course and was thinking how much fun it would have been to be out there racing."

    Last year, Armstrong announced she would be working with the Peanut Butter & Co TWENTY12 squad following her retirement. She made her debut appearance as a directeur sportif at the Merco Credit Union Cycling Classic at the beginning of March. Following the Redlands Bicycle Classic, she is scheduled to guide the team at the Tour of the Gila, Liberty Classic, Nature Valley Gran Prix and Elite US National Championships.

    "It was good and I've had a lot of fun so far this season being with the girls," Armstrong said. "It's definitely a different environment and a lot more work than being a rider, that's for sure. I didn't sleep very well last night and today I woke up early. I think I still have it in my mind that I have to prepare for a time trial after so many years of doing it. I was enjoying giving the girls tips today because I think that there are so many girls out there that need information on time trialing. Now I can go in there and talk to the girls and be a part of the team."

    The Redlands Bicycle Classic kicked off with a five-kilometre up hill time trial. Mara Abbott (Peanut Butter & Co TWENTY12) came through with a second place performance, some 16 seconds behind stage winner and...

  • Valverde's race schedule uncertain pending legal decisions

    Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne) sets off
    Article published:
    March 26, 2010, 10:24 GMT
    Cycling News

    Team said to be holding Spaniard out of racing until investigations are resolved

    Caisse d'Epargne is reportedly holding Alejandro Valverde out of racing, pending the outcome of various trials and legal procedures. The Spaniard has not raced since Paris-Nice, in which he finished second overall. Only two days later, the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) upheld his two-year ban in Italy.

    The UCI subsequently announced that it would seek to extend the ban to world-wide. In addition, Valverde said that he would appeal the CAS decision in the Swiss court system.

    There is also a second CAS case pending against Valverde. In that procedure, the UCI and World Anti-Doping Agency appealed the Spanish Cycling Federation's decision not to sanction Valverde for his involvement in Operación Puerto. A hearing was recently held in that case, with a decision possibly being announced shortly.

    His next planned race was to be the GP Miguel Indurain on April 4, but according to the Diario de Navarro, a Spanish newspaper, his participation there is in doubt until the last minute, pending a decision in one or all of these cases.

    “We must be prudent. We are waiting for what happens with these outstanding issues, and then decide what to race, but he is training as if he will race,” the newspaper quotes the team as saying.

    Valverde was apparently never scheduled to ride Volta a Catalunya, which is running this week. His next races are to be the GP Indurain, the Vuelta al Pais Vasco, Amstel Gold Race, Flèche Wallonne and Liège-Bastogne-Liège. After a break, he is scheduled to ride the Dauphine Libéré and then the Tour de France.

    The Spanish rider was banned in Italy by the Italian Olympic Committee in May 2009, after a DNA comparison of blood taken during the 2008 Tour de France (which travelled into Italy) with blood bags seized by Spanish police during Operación Puerto.

  • Sagan to line up at Paris-Roubaix

    Peter Sagan (Liquigas - Doimo) kept the green jersey
    Article published:
    March 26, 2010, 10:41 GMT
    Jean-François Quénet

    Liquigas changes Slovakian's race schedule after Paris-Nice

    The big revelation of Paris-Nice Peter Sagan will face another challenge in France as he'll line up at Paris-Roubaix on April 11. On his initial program, he was supposed to resume racing at the Tour of Turkey starting on the same day as 'the Hell of the North' but Liquigas now considered that he had raced a lot already and another 8-day race might be too much for the 20-year-old.

    Therefore, the Slovakian will ride Paris-Roubaix instead. The prestigious Classic is not totally new to him as he finished second in the junior event in 2008, which also uses the cobblestones after the Arenberg sector and finishes in the Roubaix velodrome a couple of hours prior to the pro race. Sagan was away solo for a long time but eventually lost the race to Englishman Andy Fenn in the end.

    Sagan was keen to ride Milan-San Remo after winning two stages and the points classification in Paris-Nice but he respected his team's wishes to give him a break. Paris-Roubaix will be his first Classic as a professional rider.

  • HTC-Columbia prepares for its one Belgian weekend race

    HTC-Columbia's Scott bikes wait to be picked up.
    Article published:
    March 26, 2010, 11:08 GMT
    Daniel Benson

    Hoffman readies troops for Gent-Wevelgem

    With two days to go until Gent-Wevelgem, HTC-Columbia’s squad spent Friday morning out on a short recovery ride. The American team will skip E3 Prijs Vlaanderen on Saturday and will instead ride reconnaissance over Sunday’s Gent-Wevelgem course.  

    Tristan Hoffman will be the team’s director sportif in the race, as they aim to defend their title in a race won by the new departed Edvald Boasson Hagen. With E3 off the schedule, Hoffman believes that the team could start Gent-Wevelgem with one of the freshest squads.

    “They are both really beautiful races,” he told Cyclingnews, before joining the riders on their coffee stop ride. “But we made the decision to only do Gent-Wevelgem because it would have been too much. Of course there are a big group of riders who do both so I hope they’re a little bit tired on Sunday morning.”

    Besides the loss of Boasson Hagen, the team are also missing the services of Marcus Burghardt and George Hincapie. The trio of riders were Columbia’s only riders who made last year’s decisive early break. However Hoffman believes that despite not having a red hot favourite for the race, the team still hold quality in depth and riders who can slip under of radar of the big favourites.

    “Okay, some of our riders left but we have good riders for this race,” he said.

    “We have Eisel, Sieberg, Goss and Roulston. We don’t have a Cancellara or a Boonen on our team but we can get into breaks and everyone has a chance.”

    Roulston is one rider that Hoffman believes can compete with the best. Although he may be missing some experience in these races, he finished fourth in Kuurne-Bruxelles-Kuurne earlier in the year. “He showed he had a big engine and I hope he has held his form since them. With a bit of luck he can be in a break. He might get some freedom.”

  • Henderson confident ahead of Gent-Wevelgem

    Greg Henderson (Team Sky) was all smiles on the podium
    Article published:
    March 26, 2010, 11:43 GMT
    Richard Tyler

    New Zealander to target stage win at Giro d'Italia

    Greg Henderson is confident he can continue his successful season at Gent-Wevelgem on Sunday. The race will be the New Zealander's last major one-day race before he targets a stage win at the Giro d'Italia.

    The Sky sprinter has made a rapid recovery from a crash at last week's Milan-San Remo, which resulted in seven stitches to his left knee. He finished in the midst of the peloton at Dwars door Vlaanderen on Wednesday, but pointed to it as a signal he will be ready for Sunday's 219 kilometre race to Wevelgem.

    "The doc stitched me up and said to rest it, so [Dwars door Vlaanderen] was a test basically," Henderson told Cyclingnews at his team hotel in Kortrijk, Belgium. "The injury was where the tendons all attach, but I got through the race with no problems so I'm really happy.

    "I think I'm one of the protected riders here, for sure. Today I had great legs it was just a little big of bad luck on one of the climbs. I'm obviously not as strong as [race winner Matti] Breschel (Saxo Bank) was, but I think I'll get better as the week goes on and my knee improves. Gent-Wevelgem is a race I think I can do well in."

    Although confident about his own ability to perform on Sunday, Henderson knows he will enter the race as part of a Sky team that boasts several riders who could excel, including defending champion Edvald Boasson Hagen. He freely admits that the spring's races present challenges that lend themselves to a multi-pronged approach.

    "The thing about these races is there are guys in the peloton that have done them so many times. I was talking to [Juan Antonio] Flecha about it and he said 'I just know when to accelerate, when I'll turn left, I know the climb, when it gets steep' and Mat Hayman's the same.

    "So much of it has to do with knowing the race and positioning; using energy to get into position before you actually go up the climb."

    Selective schedule bears fruit

  • Chann McRae mixes it up with martial arts

    Chann McRae directs the Holowesko Partners team
    Article published:
    March 26, 2010, 14:06 GMT
    Peter Hymas

    Holowesko Partners director's fighting technique is unstoppable

    Chann McRae, the director of Garmin-Transitions' U23 development squad Team Holowesko Partners, has proven himself as a professional cyclist with a USPRO national road championship, two top-10 finishes in the elite men's road world championship and a top-20 finish at the Giro d'Italia and Vuelta a Espana as highlights of his eight-year career. The 38-year-old McRae, however, has embarked on an altogether different physical challenge having taken up mixed martial arts.

    "I've just gotten into it in the last 16 months. It's truly for hobby [purposes] after I've stopped racing Ironmans and as a professional on the road in cycling," McRae told Cyclingnews. "It's just something I find intriguing, developing my skills to be a better mixed martial artist."

    McRae made his amateur mixed martial arts debut earlier this month in New Braunfels, Texas. Scheduled for three, 3-minute rounds, McRae suffered a TKO 0:52 into the third round.

    "I don't have tons of time to put into it. If I was 18 and could do it over again maybe I'd like to do it professionally. I definitely have respect for the pros."

    While travelling with the Team Holowesko Partners squad McRae finds it easier to train on the bike or via running, but when he's not on the road he focuses on a mixed martial arts regimen.

    "I study Muay Thai and Jujitsu," said McRae. "Muay Thai is a standup striking technique where you use kicks, knees, punches and elbows. Jujitsu is more working your ground game, you learn different positions about how to tap a guy out from the ground. You can become a black belt in Jujitsu, which is a ways off for me, but that can be a goal as well."

    While the training required to pursue a professional career in mixed martial arts is a world away from that of professional cycling, there are analogies regarding the rise through the ranks.

    "It's a lot like cycling with its various categories, starting out as an amateur and working into...