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First Edition Cycling News, Friday, September 10, 2010

Date published:
September 10, 2010, 1:00 BST
  • Vuelta makeover is paying dividends

    Igor Anton (Euskaltel-Euskadi) accepts the acclaim.
    Article published:
    September 09, 2010, 12:26 BST
    Peter Cossins

    The 75th edition looks set to be one of Vuelta’s best

    It is still too early for Vuelta a España boss Javier Guillén to assess how much his ongoing revamp of Spain’s national tour has impacted on the race, but at its halfway stage there are optimistic signs that the this 75th anniversary could turn out to be one of the best. The first 11 stages have brought 10 different winners, four changes of leadership and plenty for bike fans to feast on.

    For Guillén, they have brought much more too. One of the most notable aspects has been the large numbers of spectators at the roadside. Although analysis of numbers via TV is hardly scientific, the crowds drawn out to watch the Vuelta do seem to be considerably bigger than for some years. Starting with the successful night-time team time trial in Sevilla, where fans were several deep at many points on the course, the stage finishes and key climbs have been busy, suggesting that interest in the race is on the up.

    Sure, there are many sections where the race passes through empty and barren terrain where there’s not a soul to be seen, but that will always be the case given Spain’s geography. For Guillén, the decision to feature finishes in smaller towns such as Valdepeñas de Jaén, Lorca and Orihuela does seem to have paid off.

    Guillén will be aware of other good omens too. The declaration of ceasefire by Basque terrorist group ETA can only boost plans to take the Vuelta back into the Basque Country next season. The region is one of cycling’s heartlands and still produces a huge amount of talent, including current Vuelta leader Igor Antón. With talk growing about the 2011 Vuelta featuring famous Basque climbs such as the Arrate and Urkiola, Guillén and his organising team will be relishing even bigger crowds turning out for next year’s race.

    That prospect should be guaranteed if Alberto Contador follows through on his announcement earlier this week that he...

  • McEwen signs with Australian super team

    Robbie McEwen won stage one of the Eneco Tour and took the red sprint jersey.
    Article published:
    September 09, 2010, 15:32 BST
    Cycling News

    Sprinter to lead ProTour charge

    Three-time Tour de France points champion Robbie McEwen will head up the Pegasus Sports team in its bid to join the ProTour in 2011. The 38-year-old Queenslander leaves the Katusha squad after two seasons to rejoin his old friend Chris White, who is pushing to turn his current Fly V Australia squad into the country's first ProTour team.

    "I've known Chris White for 20 years and know many of the current staff and riders," McEwen said in a statement. "The team has built an impressive record in North America over the past two years, and with their move into Europe in 2011, the timing and the vibe could not be better.

    "I chose to make this move because I have a lot of respect for Chris White, his drive and vision, and what he is doing for Australian cycling. I know with the riders coming on board that we'll have a very strong, competitive team. I'm really looking forward to next year – my 17th season as a professional."

    McEwen promised to respect the remaining time on his contract with Katusha. "Katusha has been great over the past two seasons and I'll be giving 100 percent right up to my last race of 2010."

    White and McEwen both come from Brisbane, and were training partners at the start of McEwen's storied career, which includes some 200 victories. "It's quite ironic that Robbie and I used to train and race together when Robbie first started road racing back in the early 1990s," said White. "In fact the lineage of the Pegasus Sports team can be traced to a team I started in 1993 that Robbie and I both raced on. Just as he was back then, Robbie will be a great fit and a tremendous asset for our team."

    The full team roster and schedule is still in the works, with more announcements expected later this month and next month.

  • Cavendish joins ranks of triple Grand Tour stage winners

    Mark Cavendish (HTC-Columbia)
    Article published:
    September 09, 2010, 19:06 BST
    Cycling News

    Only Briton since Robert Millar to win Giro, Tour and Vuelta stages

    In claiming stage 12 of the 2010 Tour of Spain in Lleida, Mark Cavendish has joined Simon Gerrans, Alessandro Petacchi, Pablo Lastras, David Zabriskie, Denis Menchov and Daniele Bennati in the circle of the current professional riders who have won at least one stage individually in each of the three Grand Tours.

    The Brit also imitated his compatriot Malcolm Elliott who was the stage winner the last time the Vuelta had a stage finish in the Catalan town of Lleida, 21 years ago.

    "To do at the Vuelta what Malcolm did before is special for me," Cavendish said. "He still races when I race back at home," he added about the 49-year-old from Sheffield who now races for Motorpoint-Marshalls Pasta on the British scene.

    The "Manx-Express" joked, "I'm not quite good looking like him but I try to be as good on a bike as he was...

    "Everyone knows the passion I have for these races," said Cavendish of the Vuelta and the other Grand Tours. "I used to watch them as a kid. To stand on the podium is pretty special."

    As much as a true winner he is, the sprinter from the Isle of Man admitted that he tried to give the stage win in Lleida to his lead-out man Matt Goss.

    "Matt has done an incredible job today," Cavendish said. "I kind of wanted to give him the stage like I did two years ago at the Giro (to Andre Greipel) because I did nothing for winning today. The team did everything. I was brought to the finish by my team. I'm grateful for that. But I looked behind and other riders were coming across. So I really had to take the win. When I put my hands up, it was for my teammates, not for myself."

    The star from HTC-Columbia wasn't as successful as expected in the early bunch sprints of the Vuelta. "It would have been nice to win one of the first stages but we had bad luck with punctures and I got boxed in," he said. "I didn't fail because of a lack of form. It's nice to win again but it's not a relief. I'm happy but not...

  • Hesjedal hopes for strong performances in Quebec ProTour races

    Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Transitions) finished fourth on the stage and climbed to eighth overall.
    Article published:
    September 09, 2010, 21:53 BST
    Kirsten Frattini

    Top 10 Tour finish boosts professional cycling in Canada

    Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Transitions) is the biggest name in Canadian road cycling since the nation's iconic Steve Bauer placed fourth in the Tour de France 22 years ago. After capturing seventh place overall at this year's French Grand Tour, the British Columbia native is pumped to put on a show in North America's inaugural ProTour races, the Grand Prix Cycliste de Quebec City on Friday and the Grand Prix Cycliste de Montreal on Sunday.

    "These race are not that important pressure-wise because I've had a great season and I'm not hurting for results or strong performances," Hesjedal told Cyclingnews. "I'm happy with my season to date but, that said, I also want to take the opportunity to perform well in Canada. I've been as focused as I could be on these events since the Tour and the last races that I did in Europe. I hope I can ride well this weekend. I feel happy and fortunate that there are ProTour stops in Canada after the season that I've had. It is a very nice way to end the season."

    Hesjedal is a former mountain biker who turned heads when he won the silver medal at the Under 23 World Championships in 2001. He switched to road racing in 2004 and has since ridden for US Postal Service, Discovery Channel, Phonak, HealthNet-Maxxis and now competes for Garmin-Transitions. Last year, he won a stage of the Vuelta a Espana and has been the only Canadian to compete in the Tour de France in 10 years. He was awarded Canadian Cyclist of the decade at the end of last season.

    This year, Hesjedal continued his international cycling success placing second place at the Amstel Gold Race, a stage win and a fifth place overall at the Tour of California and a sixth place at the Clasica de San Sebastian. His most memorable performance was at the Tour de France where he placed fourth in stages 3 and 17 and finished with a strong seventh place overall.

    "People definitely recognize my top 10 at the Tour de France," Hesjedal said. "In Canada, the...

  • USADA sanctions Crater for marijuana doping violation

    Andrew Crater won the United Healthcare Road Race on July 31.
    Article published:
    September 09, 2010, 21:59 BST
    Cycling News

    Former pro tests positive for metabolite of marijuana

    Andrew Crater of Asheville, North Carolina, has tested positive for a prohibited substance and accepted a suspension for his doping offense, as announced today by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA).

    Crater, 32, tested positive for Carboxy THC, a metabolite of marijuana in the class of Cannabinoids, in a sample collected on August 1, 2010, at the Tour of Elk Grove, in Elk Grove Village, Illinois.

    Cannabinoids are listed as Specified Substances and are prohibited under the USADA Protocol for Olympic and Paralympic Movement Testing and the International Cycling Union (UCI), both of which have adopted the World Anti-Doping Code and the WADA Prohibited List. Use of Specified Substances, under certain circumstances, can result in a reduced sanction from the standard two-year period of ineligibility.

    Crater accepted a three-month period of ineligibility, which began on September 7, 2010, the day he accepted the sanction. The period of ineligibility was suspended and reduced to time served since he accepted the sanction, after he successfully completed a USADA anti-doping educational program on September 8, 2010.

    As a result of the doping violation, Crater has been disqualified from all competitive results achieved at the Tour of Elk Grove, where his sample was collected, through and including September 8, 2010, the date he completed the doping education program, including forfeiture of any medals, points, and prizes.

    Among the results Crater has been disqualified from is a US masters national championship in the 30-34 road race earned on August 4, 2010.

    Crater is a former professional cyclist and has raced the 2010 season with the Aerocat Cycling Team.

  • Reactions from the Vuelta's 12th stage

    Mark Cavendish on the Vuelta podium
    Article published:
    September 10, 2010, 1:28 BST
    Cycling News

    Cavendish claims in a crazy finale

    Matt Goss (HTC-Columbia) - third on stage, 160th overall @ 2:06:15: "To have Lars [Bak] in the breakaway saved us a lot of work but it was pretty hectic the whole race. And it was dangerous as well just before the end.

    "The wind at the finish made it tricky too. We knew we had to be first in the last corner and we took it very fast. It's nice to win again; we hadn't done it since the team time trial on day one. Everyone in the HTC-Columbia team is happy."

    Igor Anton (Euskaltel-Euskadi) - 44th on stage, overall leader: "This was a stage for pure sprinters and the scenario has been according to what everybody planned.

    "One day after winning in Pal, I had good legs and I was very happy to wear the red jersey. My team did a great job to protect me, notably in the finale when there was a lot of tension. One more good day at the office has passed!"

    Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma-Lotto) - 10th on stage, 32nd overall @ 9:56: "I was well positioned until the last curve. For that I'm happy with my sprint today. But I have used my brakes a very little bit in that curve and that's the difference between me and the pure sprinters who pass with no fear and no braking."

    Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Transitions) - second on stage, 154th overall @ 2:01:26: "It was completely possible to win today, even though Cavendish had a great lead out. But Andreas Stauff from Quick Step almost fell in the last corner while I was closing it. We lost the race in the last turn, also because of the dirt on the road."

    Yauheni Hutarovich (Française des Jeux) - 22nd on stage, 140th overall @ 1:54:15: "I lost Cavendish's wheel with 500 metres to go. It's a pity because I didn't move away from his wheel from 3km to go till 500 metres. When I was boxed in, I didn't manage to change gear and it was game over for me."

    Mario Scirea, Liquigas-Doimo directeur...

  • Australia's Wurf joins Liquigas-Doimo

    Cameron Wurf (Androni Giocattoli - Serramenti Diquigiovanni)
    Article published:
    September 10, 2010, 7:19 BST
    Cycling News

    Tasmanian former rower to ride for Basso

    Australia's Cameron Wurf will leave Androni Giocattoli-Diquigiovanni for the Liquigas-Doimo team in 2011, Cyclingnews learned today. The 27-year-old signed a one-year contract with the ProTour squad today.

    At the Vuelta a España, team director Mario Scirea confirmed the signing of Wurf, a former rower who represented Australia at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens and switched to cycling in 2006.

    "A team like ours need great workers like him," said Scirea, who suggested that Wurf could become the next Australian dedicated domestique like Neil Stephens or Matt White have been in the past.

    The Tasmanian showed his talents during the 2010 Giro d'Italia where worked for team leader Michele Scarponi, who took fourth place overall and a stage win in Aprica. He garnered significant attention with his work on stage 11 to L'Aquila, where he dropped back from the breakaway to help bring down the advantage of the 56-man move, nearly singlehandedly setting pace for 100km. Since the Giro, Wurf was courted by several Italian teams.

    He met at the Vuelta with directeur sportif Stefano Zanatta, as team manager Roberto Amadio was with the team in Canada preparing the team for tomorrow's ProTour race in Quebec.

    "I'm pretty excited to have the opportunity to ride for Liquigas-Doimo," Wurf said. "I've been impressed by their headquarters. Everything seems so professional." The interest Liquigas-Doimo had for Wurf was actually revealed earlier this week by Ivan Basso in an interview with La Gazzetta dello Sport. As well as Cadel Evans and a few other pro cyclists, they are both coached by Aldo Sassi.

  • Matthews signs for Rabobank

    Australian Michael Matthews (Team Jayco-Skins) in the tour leader's yellow jersey after the opening stage of the tour a 174.5km trip from Kota Baru to Kuala Berang.
    Article published:
    September 10, 2010, 7:44 BST
    Cycling News

    Australian graduates from Jayco Skins to the ProTour

    The ProTour gained one more Australian after the Rabobank squad signed Canberra native Michael Matthews. Just weeks shy of his 20th birthday, Matthews will ride with the Dutch team's top tier squad for the next two seasons.

    Matthews, currently riding for the Jayco Skins continental team, attracted attention from the Rabobank directors while competing against the team in the U23 Tour of Flanders, where he took second, the Ringerike GP where he won two stages, and the Thüringen Rundfahrt where he led the race for two stages.

    He is the seventh new rider to be announced for the Rabobank team, along with Luis Leon Sanchez (Caisse d'Epargne), Matti Breschel (Saxo Bank), Maarten Wynants (Quick Step), Theo Bos (Cervelo) and Rabobank Continental team graduates Coen Vermeltfoort and Tom-Jelt Slagter.

    Matthews is currently riding the Tour de l'Avenir, where he was third in the prologue, second on the first stage and is sitting 14th overall in the standings.

    Rabobank manager Erik Breukink was impressed by the well-rounded talents of this young rider, who is a strong time trialist and a fast finisher. "He is considered a top talent, there were several ProTour teams interested in him, but we are proud of the fact that we were able to contract him," said Breukink.

    "There aren't very many riders with this kind of talent at this level. We have been watching him since January, and he has proven to be a rider with a big engine and an excellent attitude. He hasn't been racing so long, so his development can still go very far."

    Matthews and Liquigas-Doimo's recent recruit Cameron Wurf will bring the number of Australians in the ProTour up to at least 26 in 2011.