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First Edition Cycling News, Friday, October 2, 2009

Date published:
October 02, 2009, 1:00 BST
  • Valverde to race dogs at Valencia criterium

    Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Eparge)
    Article published:
    October 01, 2009, 16:00 BST
    Peter Cossins

    Mush Alejandro Mush! Caisse d'Epargne captain to face off against dog sled champion

    Vuelta a España champion Alejandro Valverde is set for a very different kind of racing challenge when he lines up against a dog team at the Valencia criterium on Sunday. The Caisse d’Epargne team leader will face title-winning "musher" Ismael Piñol Venteo and six of his fastest dogs over a 350-metre course on Valencia’s Paseo de la Alameda.

    The duel is typical of the unusual challenges that criterium organiser Javier Castellar arranges for his event. Last year he pitted Olympic champion Samuel Sánchez against GP Formula 2 driver Vitaly Petrov, plus Alberto Contador against a paramotor champion. In previous years, Castellar has had Oscar Freire race against a top-class trotting horse and jockey, and Oscar Pereiro has tested his speed against a camel.

    Musher Piñol Venteo has been runner-up in the World and European dog sled championships and is a three-times Spanish champion. On this occasion, with snow not likely to fall on the Valencia course before Sunday, the usually ski-shod sled that the dogs would haul in winter months will be fitted with wheels.

    Piñol Venteo told El Mundo he is "very excited and expectant" prior to Sunday’s race and added that he had no idea "how the dogs will react". The musher explained: "We’ve been preparing for this race for a month, training for several hours every day." Valverde should be equally well prepared having spent three weeks building up to this test by winning the Vuelta 10 days ago.

    The musher said he is confident of his dogs' chances of victory, and was spot on in declaring that "without doubt, the duel is certain to deliver lots of intrigue and spectacle".

    Organiser Castellar commented: "This year the criterium is celebrating its 20th anniversary and this race is one of the most impressive we’ve had because of its peculiarity and originality."

    As well as taking over a 26-legged (including the...

  • Petacchi to aim for 2010 and 2011 World titles

    Alessandro Petacchi looks ahead to 2010 and 2011 Worlds
    Article published:
    October 01, 2009, 17:24 BST
    Gregor Brown

    Lampre back their new signing for Melbourne and Copenhagen World Championships

    Italian sprinter Alessandro Petacchi wants to win the next two World Championships, 2010 in Melbourne, Australia and 2011 in Copenhagen, Denmark. He has support and encouragement from his future Lampre Team Manager, Giuseppe Saronni.

    "The Worlds are one of my main objectives," Petacchi told Tuttosport. "One of the reasons Saronni wants me in team Lampre is so that I can concentrate on Melbourne and Copenhagen. It is very satisfying to be part of an important team like Lampre; one that is full of faith in me."

    Petacchi leaves LPR Brakes at the end of 2009 and will race for Lampre-NGC for the next two seasons. Both years will include World Championships suited to sprinters. Petacchi heard about the Melbourne-Geelong Worlds course when it was presented by organisers in Europe last week.

    "I will call Robbie McEwen for more information," he said. "I can also call up my ex-teammate Brett Lancaster, who can give me some good advice."

    The 2010 course is the first point-to-point Worlds, it takes the riders from Melbourne to Geelong, a distance of 85 kilometres. Once in Geelong, the peloton will ride 11 15.9-kilometre circuits, each including The Ridge climb (120 metres), for a total of 259.9 kilometres.

    Petacchi has raced the Worlds twice as a professional. He lead Italian teammate Mario Cipollini to victory in Zolder, Belgium, in 2002 and was himself captain at the 2005 edition in Madrid. In Spain, he lacked the power to stay with the favourites and eventual race winner Tom Boonen.

    "This is a reason for redemption," Petacchi continued.

    He is currently preparing for his final races with LPR Brakes. He will race the Memorial Cimurri this Saturday, the GP Peccioli on October 8 and the GP Beghelli on October 11.

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  • Stephens denies Evans was isolated in Aussie team

    Australians Simon Gerrans and Cadel Evans, l-r
    Article published:
    October 01, 2009, 17:33 BST
    Peter Cossins

    Australian team director clarifies team's tactics in successful Worlds road race

    Australia's team director at the World Championships, Neil Stephens, has denied a report that has appeared on several websites claiming that the members of the Australian team voted by eight votes to one to support Simon Gerrans rather than Cadel Evans in last Sunday's road race. According to a story in Het Nieuwsblad and picked up by websites in Denmark and Italy, the only vote that Evans got was his own.

    Stephens firmly denied this had happened, but admitted he could understand why it might be thought the team would be fully behind Gerrans given the success the Cervélo TestTeam rider has enjoyed this year. He insisted Evans, who won the World Championship race, had always played a key role in the team's plans for Sunday.

    "We had to set out to deal with a number of different strategies. If it had been a bunch kick we'd have been looking to Allan Davis," said Stephens. "It could have been down to Stuart O'Grady, as he was given the job of covering the breaks.

    "You can't go into a race like that looking for just one guy. You have to have a range of strategies. We knew that it would be a tough race and that would suit Cadel. But each guy had an opportunity to go for themselves given the right situation. And they all agreed that if the situation didn't open up for them, then they would all be team workers for whoever was the strongest contender."

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  • Upgraded Vuelta a Chihuahua begins Sunday

    Antics on the podium in last year's Vuelta a Chihuahua
    Article published:
    October 01, 2009, 20:42 BST
    Cycling News

    Mexican 2.1-ranked stage race attracts a strong field

    The fourth edition of the Vuelta a Chihuahua in Mexico will begin this Sunday, and this year it will see a rise in status as a 2.1-ranked UCI event. The race is the first on the 2010 Americas Tour.

    The increased stature has attracted a stronger line-up, including UCI Pro Tour teams Caisse d'Epargne and Fuji-Servetto, as well as four Professional Continental teams: Andalucia-Cajasur, Contentpolis AMPO, ISD and Xacobeo Galicia.

    North American continental teams Rock Racing, Kelly Benefit Strategies and Planet Energy will complement the remaining squads, which include Rabobank's Continental team, Madeinox, Meitan Hompo, Canel's Turbo, Arenas Afamado, Orven and Delicias Alpura.

    Francisco Mancebo, the winner of the last two editions will join Rock Racing to defend his title along with fellow Spaniard Oscar Sevilla. They'll face strong competition from the Mexican Tecos-Trek squad, which will field Dane Michael Rasmussen alongside 2009 UCI Americas Tour champion Gregorio Ladino.

    The race will run in the opposite direction from the previous two years, making the parcours less mountainous. The most challenging stages will come on the third day, when the race ends in San Juanito, and the fourth day which runs to Guachochi and includes a category one climb mid-way through the stage.

  • RadioShack on the ready for next season

    No doubt conscious of the atrocious weather conditions at the start of Stage 3, Lance Armstrong (Astana) left it until the very last minute to make his way from the Astana team bus to the start line.
    Article published:
    October 02, 2009, 3:11 BST
    Les Clarke

    Team leader Armstrong talks 2010 schedules

    As fledgling squad RadioShack prepares for its inaugural season, Lance Armstrong has provided an indication of what the team's calendar may look like in 2010.

    Speaking to French magazine Velo, Armstrong discussed the possible program for RadioShack's riders, starting with the Santos Tour Down Under on Jaunary 19.

    "We start with the Tour Down Under [January 19-24]," began Armstrong. "The first race in Europe will be the Tour of Murcia [in early March] or possibly Paris-Nice. Then some classics, perhaps... La Flèche Wallonne, Liege-Bastogne-Liege, it's not certain."

    The American made a solid comeback in 2009 - despite a fractured collarbone suffered during stage one of the Vuelta a Castilla y Leon, he managed 12th overall in the Giro d'Italia and third overall in the Tour de France behind Astana teammate Alberto Contador.

    It wasn't all smooth sailing for the experienced Texan, who wants 2010 to be a little less hectic and isn't afraid to say so. "I need a 2010 that's easier than 2009," he explained. "Less travel. Less restlessness, or falls..."

    With quality riders such as Levi Leipheimer, Sergio Paulinho and Janez Brajkovic lining up for RadioShack, the schedule will be a busy one for the American outfit, consisting of the year's highest-profile events. That includes making the crucial choice between the Giro d'Italia and the Tour of California.

    As Tour of California organiser Andrew Messick recently explained to Cyclingnews, the race will now be run in May to maximise the chances of favourable weather conditions for the event, meaning it now clashes with the first grand tour of the year.

    "There is a dilemma between the Giro and the Tour of California, which both run in May," said Armstrong. "RadioShack is an American sponsor, but the Giro is good preparation for the Tour."


  • Evans' world title reward for Silence-Lotto

    Evans and Silence-Lotto manager Marc Sergeant at Omega Pharma's headquarters.
    Article published:
    October 02, 2009, 4:17 BST
    Les Clarke

    Could Australian fans see world champ's jersey at home in 2010?

    Cadel Evans' victory in the world championship road race last Sunday has eased the pain of what has been a year to forget for Belgian squad Silence-Lotto.

    Unveiling the world champion's new kit at the Omega Pharma headquarters in Nazareth, Belgium, company boss Marc Coucke paid tribute to Evans' achievement, saying it's the crowning moment of the organisation's involvement with the team.

    "In the last five years, together with the national lottery, we have sponsored talented young riders to bring them to a higher level," Coucke told reporters. "But in those five years we have never achieved a great victory like this. We were the champions of the podium places but we continued to invest in our team."

    This season has seen the team struggle for results, with podium places and significant wins difficult to muster. Add to this the difficulty surrounding Thomas Dekker's enforced dismissal for doping before his arrival at the team and it has been a tough 2009. The outcome of the race in Mendrisio erases some of these memories, however.

    "After five years we have reaped the benefits," continued Coucke. "And finally with this breakthrough by Cadel Evans we have the world champion within our ranks. I was happy when he crossed the finish line first in Mendrisio."

    Speculation about Evans' future abounded during this year's Tour de France; Jurgen van den Broeck's strong performance and the apparent lack of team support for the Australian had observers questioning whether he would stay with the squad.

    A departure would have required buying out his contract and as such he has remained with the Belgian outfit. Judging by the atmosphere at the press conference on Thursday, any rifts have been dealt with and the business of riding in the rainbow jersey the primary concern for both parties, particularly Evans.

    "After 16 years, in that world title race on Sunday I finally did it," said Evans. "In my country there was no...

  • Zoncolan back in 2010 Giro

    Giro d'Italia, May 30, 2007: Simoni dominates Monte Zoncolan for the second time in his career
    Article published:
    October 02, 2009, 8:50 BST
    Gregor Brown

    Famous climb returns after two years to 2010 Giro d'Italia

    The Giro d'Italia will return to the Monte Zoncolan climb in 2010, according to Il Messaggero Veneto.

    "It will be an important and long stage," said local organiser Enzo Cainero. Cainero and Giro organiser RCS Sport could sign an agreement as early as next week.

    The Monte Zoncolan featured in two previous editions of the Giro d'Italia, 2003 and 2007, and saw Italian Gilberto Simoni win both. Like 2007, next year's course will climb from Ovaro up to 1750 metres. The 10.1 kilometre climb, along with a long, narrow tunnel, contains sections of 18 to 22 percent gradients, with an average of 11.9 percent.

    The Zoncolan climb has a greater average gradient than many of Italy's other famed climbs: Mortirolo at 10.5 percent (over 12.4km), the Colle dell Finestre at 9.1 percent (18.6km) and Passo Gavia at 7.9 percent (17.3km).

    Simoni won the 2003 stage when the climb started on the easterly side, from Sutrio. It's a longer ascent from Sutrio, 13.5 kilometres, but it has an average gradient of nine percent.

    Race organiser RCS Sport will present the full Zoncolan stage details and the official route of the 93rd Giro d'Italia later this year. The race, May 8 to 30, starts with three stages based around Amsterdam, Netherlands, before transferring to Italy.

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  • Hushovd to defend green jersey in 2010 Tour

    Cervelo's Thor Hushovd before the start.
    Article published:
    October 02, 2009, 10:07 BST
    Cycling News

    Reports of Hushovd skipping Tour to concentrate on Worlds are denied

    Thor Hushovd plans to defend his green jersey at the 2010 Tour de France. The Norwegian and his Cervélo TestTeam denied media reports that he would skip the Tour next year to concentrate on the World Championships.

    Hushovd and his team management “consider defending that jersey one of their major goals for 2010,” the squad said in a statement issued Thursday.

    “Winning the green jersey was my major objective for 2009, and 2010 will be no different," said Hushovd, who will attend the 2010 Tour presentation on October 14. "I love the Tour de France. Given the level of competition for the green, it will no doubt be a great fight in 2010 and I am looking forward to it.

    “I am going to change some things in my program next year, to be in top form at the Worlds, since next year’s race suits me better than this year’s course in Mendrisio.” The 2010 World Championships will be taking place in Melbourne, Australia, with the road race course more suited to sprinters.

    Hushovd, 31, won one stage of this year's Tour de France. He beat out Mark Cavendish, who won six stages, to take the green jersey by ten points. Hushovd also won the green jersey in the Tour in 2005.

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