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First Edition Cycling News, Friday, October 14, 2011

Date published:
October 14, 2011, 1:00 BST
  • Schleck brothers anticipate 2012 Tour de France with evolving team

    Luxembourg champion Frank Schleck (Leopard Trek)
    Article published:
    October 13, 2011, 17:03 BST
    Cycling News

    Pair looks forward to Bruyneel's advice and help

    Andy and Fränk Schleck have seen the Tour de France 2012 parcours and it is full of time trial kilometres, the sub specialty which is their greatest weakness. The brothers are already contemplating how they will face the challenge, and are looking forward to accepting the challenge along with their new sport director, Johan Bruyneel.

    The parcours which was accidentally published earlier this week has 96 kilometres of time trial, as compared to only 60 in 2011, of which only 42.5 were individual. “The time that you lose there must be made up on other terrain,” Fränk Schleck told “But we must focus more on time trialing.”

    They will do that by “increasing muscle mass this winter and working on aerodynamic position. We have already talked to Johan Bruyneel about it. He insists that we work further on this.”

    Andy Schleck is finally over the infections and problems associated with his dental problems. “I am swimming a lot right now and running and weight lifting, but I also know that I can't ignore cycling.  At the end of this week, I will start training on the road again.”

    While the Schlecks have already spoken with Bruyneel, they know that he will not be able to turn his full attention to them until the current season is over.  They hope to set up a meeting for the new team in the next few weeks, and then will discover what the Belgian has in mind for them.

    “I know that he has many ideas and maybe will plan a different programme from the last few years leading up to the Tour de France,” Andy Schleck said.  “I think there will also be different preparation for the Spring Classics.”

    He called...

  • Flecha, Knees, Barry renew contracts with Sky

    Juan Antonio Flecha (Sky) has a wealth of experience on Belgian roads.
    Article published:
    October 13, 2011, 18:27 BST
    Cycling News

    Three racers happy to stay with current squad

    Juan Antonio Flecha, Christian Knees and Michael Barry have signed new contracts with Team Sky ahead of the 2012 season. Flecha and Knees have both penned two-year deals while Barry has extended his current agreement by a further 12 months.

    Flecha is one of the world's most experienced riders and has racked up no less than 14 Grand Tour appearances during his distinguished career. The Spaniard is also a Classics specialist and followed up his victory at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad last season with a runners-up spot in 2011.

    "I am really happy to be riding for the team again next season," said Flecha. "The improvements we have made over the last year have been testament to the amount of work we have put in, and I am excited about what 2012 will bring. The cobbled Classics will be my main focus, as always, but I am also looking forward to helping the team throughout the rest of the season."

    Barry and Knees are both regarded as key domestiques and have contributed massively to the continued success of the team in 2011. Barry's form last season earned him his first-ever ride at the Tour de France while Knees was a member of the 2011 team after settling in quickly following his winter arrival from Milram.

    "I've enjoyed being a part of the development and growth of the team in the last two years and am looking forward to another season with Team Sky," said Barry. "To me, the environment is ideal: the team is well organised, the management is solid, the staff is committed and we have a great ambiance amongst the riders. All of the guys enjoy racing and being together which, in the end, produces results. I'm happy and proud to be a member of the team."

    Knees said, "I've...

  • Jongewaard using Sun Tour as Olympic preparation

    Chris Jongewaard and Jens Schuermans
    Article published:
    October 13, 2011, 21:06 BST
    Jane Aubrey

    Mountain biker hoping for London 2012 berth

    For Budget Forklifts rider Chris Jongewaard, Thursday's effort in the day's break at the Jayco Herald Sun Tour was just another step towards finally securing an Olympic berth.

    Jongewaard is hoping to become an Australian Olympian for the first time, albeit in mountain biking, at the London Olympic Games next July – an opportunity he missed in 2008 because he faced criminal charges over a hit and run incident involving former national representative rider Matthew Rex in 2007. He was later sentenced to nine months in gaol.

    Ahead of the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, Jongewaard was selected and then dropped from the team following a successful appeal by Josh Flemming. Riding on the road, as he has for part of the Australian National Road Series this year, is just a way of getting the kilometres back in his legs and raising the bar in his race for fitness toward a berth in London in 2012.

    "I don't quite have the capacity yet but these are the type of races that I need to be doing to get back to good condition so it's just a stepping stone to hopefully getting back to being in good form," he told Cyclingnews.

    Jongewaard spent around 90 kilometres of the day's 140km second stage off the front of the bunch with Pure Black's Tim Gudsell before finally being caught 10km from the finish in Geelong.

    Jongewaard and his fellow escapee may have been reeled in, but the 32-year-old South Australian took the lead in the King of the Mountains classification and was also named the stage's most aggressive rider. Not a bad result given he was hovering off the back of the main bunch after struggling the on first climb of the day over Mt. Buninyong.

    In March, Jongewaard won the cross country and short track events...

  • Van Avermaet continues late season run with second in Piemonte

    Greg Van Avermaet was outnumbered in the finale
    Article published:
    October 14, 2011, 2:40 BST
    Cycling News

    Belgian thinks anything is possible at Lombardia

    Greg Van Avermaet (BMC) seems to be enjoying the European spring with the Belgian adding to his recent win at Paris - Tours, with a second place in the Italian classic, Giro del Piemonte.

    Despite BMC having superior numbers in the crucial 11-man selection, Van Avermaet became isolated when teammates Mathias Frank and Ivan Santaromita faded in the final 10 kilometres. Luca Paolini (Katusha) and Daniel Moreno (Katusha) then worked successfully to prevent the Belgian taking his second win in less than a week.

    "Paolini left a gap to Moreno on the last descent to the finish," Van Avermaet said. "[Vincenzo] Nibali tried to close the gap and with 400 meters to go I went full out, but it was too far and I couldn't close the gap."

    Having struggled to find his feet with the BMC team in 2011, the 26-year-old has finally been finding his straps of late, and believes that given the right circumstances a good result at Lombardia could well be within his grasp.

    "I don't know [how well I can go there]," Van Avermaet said. "First, I want to try and recover from today. Lombardia is normally too hard for me. But with this condition, you never know."

    Giro di Lombardia is on October 15.

  • Three-man showdown on Arthurs Seat?

    Rhys Pollock rode comfortably in the bunch today, but must now think about his defence on the Queen stage.
    Article published:
    October 14, 2011, 9:42 BST
    Jane Aubrey

    Pollock, Bobridge and Haas set to fight for overall honours on Sun Tour's queen stage

    The queen stage of the Jayco Herald Sun Tour, the new 131.6 kilometre jaunt from Sorrento concluding with three biting laps over Arthurs Seat on the Mornington Peninsula ,will likely turn out a treat for race organisers, with the overall winner set to be decided on Saturday with the final criterium stage left to run on Sunday.

    Following stage three on Friday, Drapac's Rhys Pollock holds a 15 second lead on Genesys' young gun Nathan Haas, with a further three seconds back to Jonas Aaen Jorgensen (Saxo Bank-Sungard). Next at 22 seconds is stage two winner Janse Van Rensburg (MTN-Qhubeka), while neo Jens Debusschere (Omega Pharma-Lotto) and current Australian road champion Jack Bobridge (Garmin-Cervelo) share a 23 second deficit.

    Pollock, who has worn the yellow leader's jersey since his win on the opening stage to Ballarat, is optimistic regarding his chances of a start-to-finish grip on the GC. The 31-year-old has benefitted greatly from the work of his Drapac teammates, who have punched well above their weight in the peloton.

    "We basically used Stu [Shaw] today, I'm not sure how far he'll be able to go tomorrow, but he'll do his best," Pollock warily admitted about his team's strength. "We'll see how we go, we've given ourselves the best opportunity. Like my director [Agostino Giramondo] says, stranger things have happened - we've come this far, so we're going to keep going and I have to back myself, hang in there for as long as I can."

    Pollock was certain that the eventual overall winner will be a rider high up on the...

  • Pires from Leopard Trek to Saxo Bank-SunGard

    Bruno Pires (Leopard Trek).
    Article published:
    October 14, 2011, 10:20 BST
    Cycling News

    Portuguese climber to help in Classics and Grand Tours

    Bruno Pires will ride for Saxo Bank-SunGard in the coming year.  The Portuguese climber was most recently with Leopard Trek.

    "Bruno brings in some capacities that are absolutely vital to the team. He is a skilled climber, which means he can be an asset for us in both the Ardennes Classics and in the mountains of a Grand Tour,” said team owner Bjarne Riis.  “Bruno is also a humble guy and a true team player, so I look forward to have him on the team."

    "I am very happy and honored by the confidence that Bjarne Riis and Saxo Bank-SunGard are showing in me,” Pires said. “It's an important next step in my career, and I believe that I am going to grow a great deal at Saxo Bank-SunGard, since I will be surrounded by some of the most professional and experienced people in cycling.

    "I am extremely motivated, and my personal goal as I start a new stage in my career is to help the team and the people, who gave me this opportunity. I'm looking forward to the day we start working together.”

    This was the first WorldTour year for the 30-year-old Pires, having previously ridden only for Continental-ranked Portuguese teams. His top result in 2011 was ninth place overall in the US Pro Cycling Challenge.

  • Saxo Bank's Roberts again without a team for 2012

    South Australian Luke Roberts wearing an all white aero suit heads into Learmonth and the finish to his race against the clock.
    Article published:
    October 14, 2011, 11:38 BST
    Jane Aubrey

    GreenEdge rumour mill leaves Aussie out in the cold

    Like most of his compatriots, Luke Roberts has found himself mentioned in the same breath as GreenEdge when it comes to a possible team for 2012, but the man himself would like to set the record straight given the persistent rumours surrounding his future.

    "I've found myself in a bit of a sticky situation," he told Cyclingnews before the start of the Jayco Herald Sun Tour's third stage in Geelong on Friday, although still with a smile on his face.

    "Even my own boss here [at Saxo Bank-SunGard] thought I was going [to GreenEdge]," Roberts continued. "It's a difficult market this season with RadioShack and Leopard merging, HTC closing – there are a lot of good bike riders still looking for places. It's going to be tough again, but I'll stay positive and hope something comes up."

    And so for the second year in a row, the 34-year-old Australian domestique finds himself without a team late in the season. The week before Christmas in 2010 Pegasus, where he had signed on as a marquee rider, collapsed given the project was unable to secure a ProTour of Professional Continental licence. Roberts, like many other riders was left high and dry given his previous outfit, Milram had folded due to a lack of sponsorship.

    Roberts was offered a lifeline in late February by Saxo Bank – SunGard having shown he was far from finished at the Tour Down Under where he rode for the Australian National Team, claiming 10th overall and the King of the Mountains Classification.

    "I was really grateful to Bjarne [Riis] for what he did for me," Roberts explained. "He's always been good to me since I rode with CSC for three years. I kept in good contact with him and...

  • Mixed feelings over Tour of Beijng

    The peloton on stage 3 of the Tour of Beijing
    Article published:
    October 14, 2011, 12:11 BST
    Hedwig Kröner

    Riders complain about Chinese WorldTour race, but Vasseur remains supportive

    This season's inaugural Tour of Beijing has created mixed feelings inside the peloton. While even the UCI has conceded that the newly-founded event in China will need some fine-tuning in the years to come, some riders were deeply unhappy with the race that nevertheless remains one of the governing body's priorities in its quest to globalise the sport.

    Various anonymous Spanish riders who participated in the Tour of Beijing have now voiced their concerns with Marca's reputed cycling journalist Josu Garai. One of their main issues while racing in the Chinese capital had been their health.

    "During the competition, the day on which there was the least pollution we had 210 mg/m3 (of carbon dioxide) in the air. The maximum limit in Europe is 40 mg/m3. You really felt the lacking oxygen," one rider said.

    "Security during the race was absolute, but every time we had to go out to train we were literally playing with our lives. To come out of Beijing and try to catch a secondary road is very dangerous. The same on the way back. You ride on the bike lane, but it's the same because nobody - be it cars, taxis or people - respects anything. To have a minimum of security we would have needed support vehicles, but they delivered them late," commented another Spaniard.

    As well as a fear of eating meat because of the risk of clenbuterol contamination, the interviewed riders also criticised China's political regime and public censorship. "A country with so much future has banned social networks. They say China is a modern country, but there continues to be no freedom of speech. To the contrary, there is a lot of censorship," said one rider who noted limited internet access immediately after his arrival at the airport.

    "And don't tell me that they're...