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First Edition Cycling News, Friday, October 23, 2009

Date published:
October 23, 2009, 1:00 BST
  • Tour of California moves inland for fifth edition

    Andrew Messick and AEG announced major changes to next year's Tour iof California
    Article published:
    October 23, 2009, 1:42 BST
    Kirsten Frattini

    Route likely to include more coastal cities in 2011

    The Tour of California’s warmer May slot on the International Cycling Union (UCI) calendar has allowed organisers to bring the race further inland in a bid to showcase the eastern mountains, which should provide a suitable test of fitness for the Tour de France contenders before July. However the route changes have left the once iconic coastal cities wondering if they will participate in North America’s marquee cycling event in the future.

    “We are really pleased to be able to announce the host cities today and start the process of Tour of California,” said Andrew Messick, president of event owner AEG Sports. “We are shifting to May. It’s a big decision for us because we have historically been a February race and we concluded that to be able to grow we needed to be able to showcase the entire California, a mountainous state that is inaccessible due to the snow and cold in February. So shifting to May allows us to open up California to the Sierra Nevada mountaintops.”

    Coastal cities deserted as race heads inland

    The Tour of California has moved further inland than the previous four editions, where the state’s winter chill and snow blanket have prevented the week-long challenge from touching the mountains to the east. The event will span over 800 miles between eight stages as it embarks on its fifth edition in 2010. As the race grows, cities have been knocking on AEG’s door requesting to host a start line, finish line, intermediate sprint, king of the mountain or even an opportunity to catch a glimpse of the action as the race passes through local streets.

    However the state’s sheer size has made it difficult for organisers to tie together the Pacific ocean shores with the eastern mountain slopes in just eight days. “We can’t go everywhere and we weren’t able to get to places like Marin County, but we hope to get back next year,”...

  • Caisse d'Epargne signs Cobo

    Juan José Cobo (Fuji-Servetto) on the podium
    Article published:
    October 23, 2009, 10:04 BST
    Cycling News

    Spanish climber to support Valverde

    Caisse d'Epargne manager Eusebio Unzué has announced on Thursday that the team has added Juan José Cobo to its roster for next year. The current Fuji-Servetto rider is the fourth major recruitment for the Spanish squad after the signing of Italian Marzio Bruseghin, Frenchman Christophe Moreau and Colombian Mauricio Soler.

    Cobo, a strong climber, won the overall classification of the Vuelta al País Vasco in 2007 and this year scored stage victories in Castilla y León and the Vuelta a España. In 2008, when he was riding for Saunier Duval, the 28-year-old placed second in stage ten to Hautacam, before having to leave the race with his entire team due to the doping offenses of his teammates Riccardo Riccò and Leonardo Piepoli.

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  • Flaminia adds climbing strength for 2010

    Giampaolo Caruso (Ceramica Flaminia)
    Article published:
    October 23, 2009, 10:45 BST
    Gregor Brown

    Manager Roberto Marrone expects to be at top in Italy

    Italy's Flaminia has built a team strong in the mountains and ready to contend for stages races like the Giro d'Italia next season. Team Manager Roberto Marrone released today his 17-man team for the year ahead.

    "The 2010 team was mostly renewed by adding riders strong on climbs," said Marrone. "I think we will occupy a prominent place among the Italian teams and we are confident in having invites to the most important Italian races."

    The team's most famous new signing is Riccardo Riccò, who is serving a suspension for doping that ends March 18, 2010. He won two stages and finished second overall at the Giro d'Italia in 2008. Giampaolo Caruso, Santo Anzà and Massimiliano Gentili will support Riccò on the climbs.

    Andrea Noè, who will also join Flaminia for next season, became the oldest rider, at 38, to wear the leader's jersey in any Grand Tour when he held the Giro d'Italia's lead for one day in 2007. At 41-years-old, Noè will be able to pass on his experience to the team's younger riders.

    Fabrizio Lucciola, 23, and Filippo Baggio, 21, will ride their first professional season with the team next year.

    2010 riders: Alessandro Maserati, Andrea Noè, Cristiano Fumagalli, Daniele Colli, Donato Cannone, Edoardo Girardi, Enrico Rossi, Fabrizio Lucciola, Filippo Baggio, Giampaolo Caruso, Leonardo Giordani, Luca Celli, Massimiliano Gentili, Paolo Bailetti, Raivis Belohvosciks, Riccardo Riccò and Santo Anzà.

  • Evans to decide on Australia's Tour Down Under

    World Champ Cadel Evans
    Article published:
    October 23, 2009, 11:37 BST
    Gregor Brown

    World Champion likely to return to home race, battle Lance Armstrong

    World Champion Cadel Evans is likely to return to his home race, Australia's Tour Down Under, taking place from January 19 to 24. The race organiser has already confirmed Lance Armstrong's return, one year after he started his comeback to cycling.

    "I'd say it's highly possible at this point. By the start of November I would have confirmed everything. I'm just sorting out a few details with the team right now," Evans told Australian Associated Press.

    Evans won the World Champion title last month in Mendrisio, Switzerland. He will wear the rainbow jersey for one year, until the Worlds are held in Melbourne, Australia, next September. The Tour Down Under will be one of Evans' few chances to wear the rainbow jersey in Australia.

    "It's something we're considering to be there, but more for a presence in Australia with the rainbow jersey," he said.

    Evans raced the Tour Down under in 2001, 2002, 2003, 2005 and 2006, placing fourth overall in 2004 with team T-Mobile.

    He plans to return to win the 2010 Tour de France, where he finished 30th behind winner Alberto Contador this year. Prior to this year, Evans always finished inside the top ten, placing second and wearing the leader's yellow jersey in the last two years.

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  • Fuglsang extends with Saxo Bank

    Jakob Fuglsang (Saxo Bank) took home the overall win in Slovenia.
    Article published:
    October 23, 2009, 11:53 BST
    Cycling News

    Danish rising star commits to Riis' squad on long-term

    Team Saxo Bank announced today the contract extension of Jakob Fuglsang. The Danish neo pro had an impressive first season with the team directed by Bjarne Riis, and the two have now committed to a three-year contract.

    Fuglsang, 24 years old, was happy to remain on the Danish team. "I am enormously grateful for the perspective the extension with Team Saxo Bank offers to my career," he said. "Now I know that I'll get the best development opportunities for the next three years on a team I truly care for. I am proud of what I have achieved this year and it's no secret that the conditions on Team Saxo Bank suit me perfectly. It has been a natural choice for me to extend and I am looking forward to another three years on the team."

    The Danish rider has had an international breakthrough in 2009 with victories in the Tour of Denmark, Tour of Slovenia, second in the Giro dell'Emilia and constant top rankings in the Vuelta a España, Dauphiné Libéré, Volta a Catalunya and Vuelta al Pais Vasco.

    "Jakob is without a doubt one of the biggest talents in cycling and this season he has underlined his huge potential," said team manager Riis. "To make a top professional debut like this season is hardly seen before and I have no doubt that Jakob can go far in the sport.

    "Without overestimating, I would not be surprised if he is seen in the forefront of the Tour de France within a few years. To extend his contract with another three years is a huge win for the team and I am sure he will take another major step up the rankings next year. Jakob is well on his way to becoming a complete rider."

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  • Astana/Contador meeting to be held

    Alberto Contador is interviewed.
    Article published:
    October 23, 2009, 12:16 BST
    Hedwig Kröner

    Future of two-time Tour winner still in limbo

    After the announcement of the International Cycling Union (UCI) that the Astana cycling team has not yet met the ProTour Licence Commission's standards, the squad's leader Alberto Contador may be free to go to another team.

    As reported earlier, a clause in the current UCI rider/team contract (2.15.139 article 8.1.f) allows the rider to terminate his contract "if, on 20 October of the year preceding a year of registration covered by the present contract, the UCI ProTeam has not submitted a registration file containing the essential documents."

    If he thus signed a standard UCI contract, the two-time Tour de France winner could leave the team early, without paying damages. Contador's brother and manager, Fran, confirmed this to Spanish webite AS. "If this clause exists, we will look at the options that it offers," he said on Friday morning.

    "Our lawyers are studying all the details of the UCI rules to take the most adequate decision in the coming days," he further specified in a press release. "They have to clarify if the newly-introduced article [...] is applicable. According to the specialists, the interpretation of the law can be confusing, which is why we need to be certain before taking any decision."

    While honouring his present contract with Astana through 2010 remains a possibility, Fran Contador did not discard opting for another squad with a stronger rider roster to support his brother in the bid to win a third Tour next year.

    "We will have a meeting with the Kazakh executives soon, so that they can explain to us their projects for next year," continued Fran Contador. "Then, we will decide what is best for Alberto."

    The rider himself is also waiting for the legal examination to conclude. "My lawyers are the ones who will determine if it is possible to discontinue my contract or not," said Contador, who is meanwhile continuing his preparation for the 2010 season. "I hope to be told their opinion as...

  • New Vuelta summit finish "spectacular"

    Joaquin Rodriguez leads his Caisse d'Epargne captain Alejandro Valverde on the slopes of the Xorret del Cati
    Article published:
    October 23, 2009, 12:19 BST
    Hedwig Kröner

    2010 Vuelta may include Bola del Mundo climb

    While the official 2010 Vuelta a España is yet to be announced, the Spanish cycling community is already hyped about the possible inclusion of the Bola del Mundo climb as a summit finish in the race's next edition. The climb located just north of Madrid, albeit only 2.6 kilometres long, is particularly steep and would come after the ascent of the Navacerrada (11 or 18 kilometres depending from which side it is raced).

    The Bola del Mundo's average gradient is 12 percent, with ramps up to 23 percent. Its summit is located 2,265 metres above sea level.

    After riding up the mountain, Cervélo rider José Ángel Gómez Marchante compared the climb to the Xorret de Catí climb, the finish of this year's Vuelta stage 9. He said that it was also similar to the Angliru, another famous Vuelta mountaintop finish.

    "A finish here could be spectacular," he told AS. "The Angliru has ramps that do a lot of damage. Ramps like these are at the limit of reason. There are almost no attacks, only cyclists trying to hold on. This climb [Bola del Mundo], even though it is very hard, has short moments of recovery, so it could come to more attacks and spectacle."

    The Spaniard would recommend a 39x27 gear to tackle the climb.

    "I think it could be a great finish," he continued. "The view is spectacular. The crowd will be huge, and victory on a new climb would be full of prestige."

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  • Cavendish all white after Flandrien award

    Brit Mark Cavendish (Columbia-HTC) talks with Lance Armstrong (Astana) during the 2010 Tour de France presentation, l-r.
    Article published:
    October 23, 2009, 14:38 BST
    Cycling News

    Sprinter focused on racing and caring for Bellis

    Mark Cavendish spoke on Thursday of his pride at receiving the “International Flandrien of the Year” prize, and also set the record straight about his supposed “wardrobe malfunction” at the awards ceremony in Mechelen, Belgium, last Saturday.

    The “Flandrien” is considered one of the most prestigious accolades in professional cycling. While Philippe Gilbert’s heroics in October saw him edge out Tom Boonen for the “Flandrien” recognizing the best Belgian rider of the year, Cavendish won an expert panel’s vote ahead of Tour winner Alberto Contador and world champion Cadel Evans. The Columbia-HTC rider’s season brought him 23 individual wins, including three stage victories in the Giro d’Italia, six in the Tour de France, plus his first success in a one-day Classic, Milan-San Remo.

    “I’m so, so happy to have won this award,” Cavendish said yesterday from his base in Tuscany, Italy. “For a rider like me, who loves Belgium and the Belgian people, and who grew up watching and dreaming of the Belgian Classics, this is a huge source of satisfaction and pride.”

    Less flattering, Cavendish admitted, were some of the comments that greeted his choice of attire for Saturday’s awards ceremony. Not that “choice” is an accurate description of the all white suit-and-tie combo that was handed to him by the event organizers when he arrived in Mechelen.

    “I wasn't too thrilled when they told me I had to wear that, but it was part of the show,” the Columbia-HTC sprinter explained. “Before I appeared on stage, they ran a video set-piece based on [cult British motoring show] Top Gear. The Quick-Step rider, Dominique Cornu, and Jürgen Roelandts, from Silence-Lotto, both did speed tests behind a car, then a rider in full white motorbike gear and helmet showed up. It was meant to be The Stig – the mystery racing...