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First Edition Cycling News, Friday, November 20, 2009

Date published:
November 20, 2009, 0:00 GMT
  • Alberto Contador, Astana reach preliminary agreement

    Alberto Contador
    Article published:
    November 19, 2009, 19:11 GMT
    By:
    Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor

    One-year contract answers questions about 2010

    After months of speculation about his future, two-time Tour de France winner Alberto Contador announced that he and his current team Astana have reached a preliminary agreement to fulfill the remainder of the contract that binds them through the end of 2010, assuming some conditions are met.

    Both sides agreed on Thursday that Contador will continue with Astana for 2010 if the team retains its ProTour license, remains in strict compliance with the code of ethics and maintains an internal doping control system.

    Contador's decision came after he learned that Yvon Sanquer would take over as new team manager and Giuseppe Martinelli would be a director sportif, thereby, according to Contador, "ensuring the reliability and competitiveness of the new Astana's project".

    Contador also noted that over a short period a time, the team had managed to gather "a group of high-quality riders who'll help guarantee success in the next season".

    The signed contract will cover a one-year period, meaning Contador could make a decision to pursue a future with other teams after the end of 2010.

    The preliminary agreement by no means secures Contador's future as one of the conditions is yet to be met. Tomorrow's final deadline for the UCI's registration of teams is crucial for the future of the Astana team. The governing body is poised to make a decision about whether or not the Kazakh squad will continue in the ProTour.

    Contador has been in talks with other teams such as Quick Step, Caisse d'Epargne, Garmin Slipstream and Liquigas in recent months. He recently signed a personal sponsorship deal with Specialized Bicycles.

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  • Rogers aims for Tour de France overall

    Michael Rogers leads Columbia-HTC.
    Article published:
    November 19, 2009, 19:45 GMT
    By:
    Daniel Benson

    Columbia-HTC leader to skip Giro and focus on Tour of California, Tour de France

    While the comebacks of Lance Armstrong, Ivan Basso and Floyd Landis have all been well documented, Michael Rogers has had to endure his own fight back, but with an impressive 2009, the Australian is building for a shot at the Tour de France and Tour of California next year.

    Rogers spent the majority of 2008 on the sidelines suffering from glandular fever. It was a tough break. The year before he'd suffered the unlucky fate of crashing out of the Tour de France while leading the race on the road. It was beginning to look like Rogers's career was stagnating.

    However in 2009, the triple world time trial champion raced over 90 days on the bike and covered more than 13,000 kilometres in racing. To put that into perspective, it's more that he did in 2007 and 2008 combined. "I did a lot of racing this year, around 95 to 100 days. If you go back 10 years that's normal, but in the last few years most riders do around the 80 mark. So to do as much as I did was a big achievement for me. Especially after having the majority of the year out in 2008," Rogers told Cyclingnews.

    Rogers started the 2009 season early and took part in the Tour Down Under, where he finished a creditable sixth overall, before ending up on the podium at the Tour of California in February. According to Rogers, that was the moment when he realised he was back and able to compete with the best once again. "Running third was a great moment for me. You had Levi Leipheimer and Dave Zabriskie and both guys have had either great success there or are super motivated. My plan was to come back and have strong start to the season and hold onto that form for as long as I could."

    For 2010, Rogers will have a new programme. Out will go the Giro d'Italia, in which he finished eighth this year, and in will come the Tour of California before a crack at the overall at the Tour de France. If 2009 was the year of the rebuild, then 2010 is the year of confirmation. "I will go back...

  • Sky to swoop on Swift?

    Stage seven winner Ben Swift (Katusha)
    Article published:
    November 20, 2009, 4:37 GMT
    By:
    Cycling News

    Cioni, Viganò take team roster total to 24

    Team Sky has announced the signing of two Italian riders in Dario Cioni and Davide Viganò, taking the number of riders announced for its 2010 squad to 24. Yet the two new announcements were overshadowed by who will be the British squad’s 25th signing as The Guardian speculated that Ben Swift has moved into the sights of David Brailsford’s squad.

    All eyes will be on Team Sky heading into its first training camp next week with observers expecting the announcement of a British signing to the team’s ranks. Rumours have swirled around the team’s attempts to court Garmin-Slipstream’s Bradley Wiggins since the Tour de France, however the speculation has unexpectedly focused on Swift.

    Like Wiggins’ situation with Garmin, Swift is locked into a contract with Russian outfit Katusha. A team spokesperson told the British paper Swift was – at that point – still a member of the team, however that doesn’t mean the squad wouldn’t consider a buyout of Swift’s contract.

    "For us, at this moment, Swift is a Katusha rider," the Katusha representative told The Guardian.

    Swift is generally considered one of the brightest stars of Britain’s next generation of riders coming through the ranks. He recorded his first professional victory on the Tour of Britain’s seventh stage this year, having finished just off the podium in fourth at last year’s International Cycling Union (UCI) U23 World Road Championships in Italy. If recent speculation proves correct, Swift could have much to celebrate on his 22nd birthday next month.

    For now Brailsford is happy with his squad’s two new signings. He noted Viganò’s talent which he expects to harness and develop with the help of the experienced riders like Cioni and those already signed to the squad like Australia’s Simon Gerrans.

    "Viganò is a real talent on the brink...

  • Specialized ends sponsorship agreement with Quick Step

    Quick Step's Tom Boonen with a Specialized bike at the 2009 Tour de France
    Article published:
    November 20, 2009, 10:13 GMT
    By:
    Gregor Brown

    Belgian team of Tom Boonen looks for new bike sponsor after three years with USA company

    Specialized bikes and ProTour team Quick Step announced today that the two will split ways for the 2010 season. The USA bike company will supply the bikes of two-time Tour de France winner Alberto Contador next season and is expected to also supply bikes for his team, Astana.

    Quick Step rode Specialized bikes to many important victories since the two began their relationship at the start of the 2007 season.

    Belgian Tom Boonen won the Paris-Roubaix twice and two stages and the green sprinters' jersey at the 2007 Tour de France. Italian Paolo Bettini won the 2007 World Championships.

    "Specialized has been a big part of those results by developing bikes and equipment that give the riders a real edge. I want to thank Mike [Sinyard] and the specialized team for their support," said Team Manager Patrick Lefevere.

    Specialized President Sinyard thanked the team for raising awareness of his company's brand and helping to develop his bikes. "We are grateful to the team and the riders for these contributions," said Sinyard.

    The contract agreement between Specialzed and Professional Continental team ISD also comes to an end this year. The bike company will continue to supply Bjarne Riis' Saxo Bank team. Saxo Bank's Andy Schleck won the Liège-Bastogne-Liège and finished second at the Tour de France behind Contador this season.

    Contador announced Monday that he signed a personal agreement with Specialized bikes for next season. Quick Step may use bikes of cycling legend Eddy Merckx, according to Belgian media.  It will make an announcement this afternoon. 

  • Peraud eyes Tour de France

    Jean Christophe Peraud (Massi)
    Article published:
    November 20, 2009, 11:35 GMT
    By:
    Hedwig Kröner

    MTB champion ready for two years on the road

    French mountain biker Jean-Christophe Peraud will be concentrating on road cycling the next two years, racing as a neo-pro with Belgian team Omega Pharma-Lotto. Until now, the 32-year-old has been competing mainly on the mountain bike circuit, where he has achieved prestigious victories such as the 2005 European Championship and a silver medal at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

    Last year, he nevertheless started to excel on the road as well, becoming French amateur champion. In 2009, he went on to win the French Time Trial Championship in Saint-Brieuc before placing second in the Chrono des Nations - Les Herbiers and becoming 12th in the World Championships time trial. Riding as an elite without contract, he then received numerous offers from the ProTour teams, and decided to give professional road racing a go.

    "I do it only for the challenge," Peraud told L'Equipe when asked why he turned pro now, at 32 years of age. "My aim is to participate in the Tour de France."

    Initially, Peraud had envisaged to combine mountain bike and road cycling, but Omega Pharma-Lotto persuaded him to concentrate solely on the road for a while. "For Omega, the trigger was the departure of Cadel Evans. They had to find someone to fill in - numerically, that is - and they thought of me, notably counting on my climbing skills. Of course, I will not be on the same level as Evans..."

    Although the Toulouse native is the current French time trial champion, he defines himself a climber. "If I won that time trial, it's mainly because I also know how to suffer," he smiled, elaborating further on his goals for the 2010 season.

    "Beside the Tour, the event that I most look forward to is the Dauphiné, which has a very mountainous route. But it's true that I can make good use of my qualities as a rouleur in races like the Critérium international, Paris-Nice or the Dauphiné, to remain in contention on the general classification. But I...

  • Yates joins team Sky as directeur sportif

    Sean Yates talking team, no doubt very busily
    Article published:
    November 20, 2009, 12:15 GMT
    By:
    Hedwig Kröner

    Sports director excited about British project

    Sean Yates will join Team Sky in 2010 as sports director. The Englishman will work with Scott Sunderland, Steven De Jongh and Marcus Ljungqvist, the other sports directors for Team Sky.

    Yates has been a sports director at Team Discovery Channel and Team CSC before working in that function at Astana since 2008. The 49-year-old was "extremely excited" to join the British outfit for many reasons.

    "Obviously for me, to be part of a British team at the highest level is something truly special," he said. "I have a lot of experience in a winning team and I look forward to helping Team Sky to fulfil its goals. The scope and the ambition of the project is unique and I think we have put together a great team. I really believe we can be contenders on all levels in the future and I'm proud to become part of that."

    Dave Brailsford, Sky's team manager, was also happy over the newest addition to his team. "Sean brings a wealth of experience and we've been very keen for a long time to bring him on board," Brailsford said. "He's well-known as a hard-working sports director with a deep understanding of the sport and good connection to his riders and staff. He will be a true asset to our management team and a great colleague for the other sports directors we have signed."

    In his 14-year career as a pro, Yates rode for Peugeot, Fagor, 7-Eleven and Motorola, being a team-mate of Robert Millar and Lance Armstrong. He became the third Brit to wear the yellow jersey at the Tour de France, in 1994, and rode 12 Tours during his active time.

    Team Sky will compete from the start of 2010, beginning with the Tour Down Under, and hopes to gain an invitation to next year's Tour de France. The Team Sky riders announced to date are: Geraint Thomas, Steve Cummings, Pete Kennaugh, Chris Froome, Ian Stannard, Russell Downing, Edvald Boasson Hagen, Thomas Lövkvist, Kurt Arvesen, Simon Gerrans, Juan Antonio Flecha, Kjell Carlström, John Lee Augustyn,...

  • Contador happy with new Astana staff, awaiting licence

    Spaniard Alberto Contador likely to stay with Astana for 2010
    Article published:
    November 20, 2009, 12:34 GMT
    By:
    Gregor Brown

    Sanquer, Martinelli, Vino have made good impression on two-time Tour winner

    Alberto Contador is pleased with the management changes made at team Astana this off-season and is ready to stay. He welcomed team manger Yvon Sanquer and directeur sportif Giuseppe Martinelli, and waits for the team to receive confirmation of its ProTour licence.

    "Sanquer seems like a competent person, educated and clever. I trust him," Contador told La Gazzetta dello Sport.

    The Frenchman took over for Johan Bruyneel, who leaves with Lance Armstrong to form new team RadioShack. With Bruyneel in the last two years at Astana, Contador won the 2008 Giro d'Italia and Vuelta a España, and this year's Tour de France.

    To help Contador keep winning, Astana also brought in Italian directors Martinelli and Guido Bontempi. Contador said he talked with Martinelli many times in the past months and that he welcomed him at his home in Pinto, Spain.

    "He picked up the Giro trophy with the names inscribed and said, 'I've helped these win.' [Pantani, Garzelli, Simoni, Cunego]. His story fascinates me. Four pink jerseys with four different riders, it means he's truly good," continued Contador.

    Today's deadline for all requirements to be submitted to the International Cycling Union (UCI) licensing commission is the last hurdle that remains for Contador and Astana. The commission is expected to confirm the team's financial structure if all documents are in order.

    "The licence is fundamental. I would like to stay with Astana, but I will do it only if the team is ProTour," he insisted.

    Kazakhstan's Vinokourov helped create the team with financial backers from his home country in 2006. His positive test for blood doping during the 2007 Tour de France forced him out of the team and cycling for two years. He returned in August with team Astana and immediately raced the Vuelta a España.

    Contador refuted rumours according to which he demanded that Vinokourov skip the 2010 Tour de France and...

  • De Groot retires after 11 year career

    Bram de Groot (Rabobank) will take part in CrossVegas.
    Article published:
    November 20, 2009, 12:38 GMT
    By:
    Susan Westemeyer

    Domestique spent entire career with Rabobank

    Bram de Groot has ended his career, after not receiving a new contract for the coming season. The 34-year-old had ridden for Rabobank for his whole career.

    The Dutch rider confirmed his retirement on Thursday to the Dutch radio station Radio West. After being informed by Rabobank that his contract would not be renewed, he was unable to find a place on another team.

    De Groot is “a role model as a professional cyclist, one of the few Dutch riders who has helped teammates win a Grand Tour (Vuelta de Espana and Giro d'Italia with Menchov,” Rabobank spokesman Luuc Eisenga told Cyclingnews. “He is one of those guys who does all their work in the early part of the race, so they don't get a lot of tv time, but are really the backbone of the team.”

    The Dutch rider turned professional with Rabobank in 1999. His biggest win was a stage win in the 2006 Volta a Catalunya. He also won the Uniqa Classic and the Delta Profronde van Midden-Zeeland in 2005.