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First Edition Cycling News, Friday, September 11, 2009

Date published:
September 11, 2009, 1:00 BST
  • Cavendish takes early exit from Missouri

    Stage winner Mark Cavendish (Columbia-HTC) talks to the fans after going two from two in Missouri.
    Article published:
    September 10, 2009, 19:38 BST
    Kirsten Frattini

    Respiratory illness sidelines Columbia-HTC sprinter

    Double stage winner Mark Cavendish dropped out of the Tour of Missouri on Thursday morning after his team doctor advised him to stop racing after a respiratory infection worsened, the Columbia-HTC team announced before the start of the Tour's fourth stage.

    After wearing the leader's jersey for two days and winning the first two stages, Cavendish lost the overall race lead to Cervelo's Thor Hushovd following a fifth place finish on the stage.

    "He has some sort of lung infection," explained team director Tristan Hoffman. "He started to get sick before he came [to Missouri], but it's gotten worse as the days have gone on."

    The team doctor advised Cavendish to stop racing, but cautioned against flying home right away. He instead was taken to Kansas City to rest. He will wait there until the team gets at the conclusion of the Tour on Sunday and then there then fly out with the team.

  • Förster extends with Milram

    Mark Cavendish (left) and Robert Förster (right) have done battle in sprints in races like the Tour of Qatar.
    Article published:
    September 10, 2009, 21:54 BST
    Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor

    German rider signs one-year deal

    Robert Förster will stay with Team Milram for another year after the two negotiated a one-year contract extension through 2010. The 31-year-old is the second Milram rider after Dutchman Servais Knaven to extend his contract.

    "In Robert Förster we have an experienced and reliable rider, who helps to strengthen the team," is how Gerry van Gerwen, Team Milram's General Manger, explained his decision. "Of course, the 2009 season so far hasn't been optimal, but we know what we have in Robert Förster. It is just a matter of time until we can celebrate more successes with him."

    Förster was also satisfied. "It is important for me to ride for a German team. So I am happy to be part of the only remaining German ProTour team again in the coming season. Here I have the opportunity to take part in a three-week Grand Tour. My first year on the team wasn't the best, but I have a lot of plans for the coming year and will go all out in 2010."

    Förster has ridden for Milram since the start of the 2009 season. Previously, he rode for Gerolsteiner. He won a stage in the Tour of Turkey in April and was second in a stage of the Tour of Qatar. He has a total of 18 top-ten finishes so far this season. Previously in his career, the sprinter has brought in stage wins at the Giro d'Italia, the Vuelta a Espana and the Deutschland Tour.

    Förster's next assignment is the Rund um die Nürnberger Altstadt on Sunday, September 13. In 2003 he finished second in the race.

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  • Valverde motivated to chase Vuelta win

    Alejandro Valverde maintained the overall race lead.
    Article published:
    September 11, 2009, 7:40 BST
    Shane Stokes

    Spaniard says next three days will be crucial in determining outcome

    As a second year professional Alejandro Valverde won two stages and finished third overall in the Vuelta a España. Then aged just 23 years of age, his 2003 performance led many to predict he’d soon win Spain’s biggest event, as well as many other races.

    His career hasn’t quite progressed along those lines; since then his best performance was third again in 2004, and second to Alexandre Vinokourov two years later. This time round, Valverde is once again in the maillot oro of race leader and, appearing more relaxed, he will fight to keep it all the way to Madrid.

    “I learned a lot in recent years,” he told journalists at the press conference held on Thursday at the team hotel near the Almeria sea front. “I am quieter than I was before, when I was trying to win stages at any cost at the beginning of the race and then always ending up having a bad day towards the end. It is important to keep my strength. I am also more attentive than I was in the past, and my team helps me a lot too.”

    Valverde has been known for starting strong and then fading slightly; he did that in the 2006 Vuelta, and also in last year’s Tour de France, where he won stages one and six but had to settle for an eventual ninth overall. His pacing is different this time round; he placed ninth in the opening time trial, then 13th in the next race against the clock in Valencia. Fifth on the stage to Alto de Aitana moved him from seventh to second overall, and then third at Xorret del Cati saw him slot into the race lead.

    He’s saved energy where possible, even if he said that the opening eleven stages have been stressful for all. “Until today the Vuelta has been very fast with a lot of tension in the bunch,” he stated. “We had to race under the rain in the Netherlands and Belgium and later in very hot weather in Spain. Many riders are already very tired because of that.

  • Leipheimer a dark horse for Missouri time trial

    USA's Levi Leipheimer (Astana)
    Article published:
    September 11, 2009, 7:47 BST
    Kirsten Frattini

    Today's stage to impact worlds participation decision

    Levi Leipheimer has not competed since breaking his wrist eight weeks ago at the Tour de France, yet he believes that he can capture the Tour for Missouri’s yellow jersey in Kansas City on Sunday. The time trial specialist describes himself as a dark horse to win the stage 5 time trial held in Sedalia today.

    “Of course I’d like to win the overall here,” Leipheimer told Cyclingnews. “But, mainly I’d have to say that it was just about getting back to race condition before the year’s end.”

    The event’s time trial has undergone drastic change from the traditionally hilly Branson one that he competed on two years ago to the new 30-kilometre time trial course. “I was here two years ago and now it looks like it’s dead flat this time, which is fine,” Leipheimer said. “Sometimes they are dead flat. I’ve won flat, hilly and uphill time trials so I think I can compete. I’m definitely not an outright favourite and a dark horse is a good way to put it.”

    Leipheimer is up against some very stiff competition in riders like Michael Rogers (Columbia-HTC), three-time world time trial champion, and his teammate Marco Pinotti, four-time Italian national time trial champion. Other notable specialist include the current USPro time trial champion Dave Zabriskie (Garmin-Slipstream) and Gustav Larsson (Saxo Bank), who won the silver medal at the Beijing Olympics last summer, one place ahead of Leipheimer.

    “You see a lot of the best time triallists in the world are here, a big number,” said Leipheimer. “There’s a lot of wins amongst the best here and people who can compete in the best time trials at the worlds. The one who wins tomorrow has to be a really good time triallist.”

    So far the race has seen four sprint finishes from as many stages, meaning the time trial will likely be the deciding factor in who wins the overall...

  • Carlström thanks Liquigas, says Sky’s the limit

    Article published:
    September 11, 2009, 9:28 BST
    Cycling News

    Finn looking forward to developing with British team

    Kjell Carlström wants to develop his skills as a professional bike rider when he joins Dave Brailsford’s Team Sky in 2010. The former Finnish national champion is amongst the international signings announced yesterday for the British squad.

    "I had a great time during my five years at Team Liquigas but I felt that it was time for me to move on to new adventures and improve my skills as a bike rider,” he said. “I think Team Sky will offer an excellent environment for working together as a team and especially their team philosophy attracted me. I think there is a lot of potential in this new team and it will be visible when we will be working towards our goals.”

    Carlström, whose top finish is a second place on stage eight of the 2006 Tour de France, has his sights firmly set on the 2012 Olympic Games in London, England. He hopes the move to Sky, which is aimed at fostering Briton’s talent in the lead up to their home games, will help him build towards this personal goal.

    “I believe we will be a team with many riders thinking along the same lines and I think we can build up a great spirit in the team,” he said. “On a personal level I would still like to improve my own abilities and one of my personal goals is to win a stage on a grand tour but being part of a team that performs well in both one day races and in grand tours is also gratifying for me. Working as a domestique on a team that wins does it for me, knowing that I have done my best job possible. Longer term goals are for instance the 2012 Olympic Games.”

    "I think I can be a valuable asset working for the the team in all sorts of races, but also in some races get my own good results when the moment presents itself,” he added. “As a fairly experienced rider I also hope to be able to share my knowledge with the younger riders."

    Respected sport director Scott Sunderland was full of praise for the...

  • Martin ready for mountain duty

    Ireland's Daniel Martin (Garmin-Slipstream) rides in Vuelta a España stage four.
    Article published:
    September 11, 2009, 10:34 BST
    Shane Stokes

    Young Irishman aiming to help Danielson

    Dan Martin has spent the last few days in the Vuelta a España riding for team-mate Tom Danielson, who currently sits fourth overall in the race. It is the first Grand Tour for the Irishman and while he’s tired, he’s also been riding solidly. The riders face three hard days in the mountains between now and Sunday evening, and he’s continuing to learn from the experience.

    “Things are going as well as can be expected,” Martin told Cyclingnews on Thursday evening. “It has been a hard race so far, as regards the lack of recovery. It is a new experience for me, doing so many 200-kilometre, six-hour stages in a row. I’ve never done that before. It is all unknown territory…In fact, I’ve pretty much never had a rest day before, so it is all new.

    “I am just enjoying the experience and it is great having Tom to ride for as well, as it gives me focus in the race - something to aim for, something to do.”

    Martin, as one of the best climbers in the Garmin Slipstream line-up, is doing everything he can to help Danielson maintain – or improve on – his fourth place overall. “At the moment, everything is completely for him,” he said, ruling out any thoughts of getting into a break and chasing a stage. “Obviously that could change, depending on how things go for him, but at the moment my goal is just to stay with Tom as long as possible, giving him whatever he needs, be it bottles or just helping him out.”

    “It is a really good experience for me, the way I look at it. I am very young, I don’t need to chase stage wins. I’m in my first Grand Tour, there are so many older guys here and it is a great opportunity for me to work for a leader, to practice doing that.”

    Martin is known as an ambitious rider, and is one who has already highlighted his talent with a debut season victory in the Route du Sud, as...

  • Cunego's confidence high ahead of Worlds

    Damiano Cunego (Lampre-NGC) wins Vuelta a España stage 8 to Alto de Aitana Sunday
    Article published:
    September 11, 2009, 11:10 BST
    Gregor Brown

    Vuelta win raises confidence, gives Italian team clear leader in Mendrisio

    Damiano Cunego is ready to lead team Italy at the World Championships in Mendrisio, Switzerland. His win in the Vuelta a España's stage to Alto de Aitana Sunday boosted his confidence and reassured his role as the team leader.

    "It came at the right time. More so for me, my confidence, but also for the Italian team ahead of the World Championships. It gives 100 percent security that I will be one of the Italian leaders," Cunego (Team Lampre-NGC) told Cyclingnews.

    Italy's national director Franco Ballerini had Cunego marked as team leader since his second place in last year's Worlds. This year's course is suited to his style, more climbing and a shorter circuit of 13.8 kilometres.

    Prior to the Vuelta, Cunego only won a stage and the overall of the Coppi e Bartali stage race this year. He placed in the top ten of all three Ardennes Classics, but failed to win.

    His victory Sunday at the Vuelta came in front of some dangerous rivals, such as Alejandro Valverde, Cadel Evans, Samuel Sánchez and Ivan Basso. Moreover, it was his first win in five years at a Grand Tour, since he succeded in Bormio and eventually took the overall 2004 Giro d'Italia.

    "It was very important because it was a long time since I had won in a Grand Tour," he continued. "It gives me a lot more confidence. To go to the Worlds with a win is good for the confidence. I would have gone the same, but this changes it all."

    The World road race is in two weeks, September 27. The circuit travels south of Mendrisio and features two climbs, Acqua Fresca and Novazzano. It's repeated 19 times for 262.2 kilometres and 4655 metres of climbing.

    Cunego is following some of his potential rivals at the Vuelta a España. He noted Spaniards Valverde and Sánchez, Australia's Simon Gerrans, but also the absence of the Luxembourg's Schleck brothers, Fränk and Andy.

    "The Schlecks have both gone home and...

  • Frenchman Sicard takes lead in L'Avenir

    Article published:
    September 11, 2009, 12:00 BST
    Hedwig Kröner

    Three Avenir stages to go for race leader and future professional Romain Sicard

    Frenchman Romain Sicard took the race leader's jersey at the Tour de l'Avenir with three stages to race before the finish in Besançon, France, on Sunday. Team Orbea's Sicard broke free on the final climb towards the finish in Gérardmer in yesterday's "queen" stage of the Under 23 Avenir stage race. Russian Timofey Kritskiy joined him and won the stage from a two-man sprint.

    Sicard has a comfortable advantage of 1:26 on Kritskiy, with American Tejay Van Gaderen in third position at 1:58.

    "It was a difficult stage, considering the accumulated efforts since the start of the race," said Sicard "But I knew I had my card to play. After the second climb, the Colombians started chasing. I felt good, so I followed them and now I'm wearing yellow."

    Sicard is especially concerned for the 27-kilometre time trial around Ornans on Saturday. "I have to be opportunistic and hold on to every second because the Russian is very strong in the race against the clock," said Sicard.

    "I'm very satisfied with Romain's performance. To take the leader's jersey in a prestigious race as the Tour de l'Avenir, which is the Tour de France for young hopefuls, confirms that the Fundación Euskadi has done a good job," said Álvaro González de Galdeano, directeur sportif of Basque team Orbea Continental.

    Sicard will become professional with team Euskaltel-Euskadi next season.

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