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First Edition Cycling News, Friday, September 3, 2010

Date published:
September 03, 2010, 1:00 BST
  • Murcia win tips Hushovd's hand for Worlds

    Thor Hushovd celebrates his Vuelta stage win on the podium in Murcia.
    Article published:
    September 02, 2010, 20:16 BST
    Cycling News

    Norwegian survives climb to claim third Vuelta stage

    While Norwegian Thor Hushovd has not been able to beat the world's top sprinters this season, he still proved he has what it takes to win in the Vuelta a España's sixth stage to Murcia.

    By surviving the category 2 ascent of the Alto de la Cresta del Gallo with 17km to go, Hushovd also proved he could be a prime favourite at the world championships in Melbourne in one month's time.

    It was the third Vuelta stage of his career, with today's win adding to one in Cuenca (2005) and Leon in 2006. While other fast men like Tyler Farrar and Mark Cavendish were 10 and 12 minutes behind by the finish, Hushovd made the front group and topped Daniele Bennati (Liquigas-Doimo) and Grega Bole (Lampre) for the win from the 71-rider peloton.

    "When I saw that Bennati was also there for the sprint, he was the man for me to watch," Hushovd said. "I also feared Philippe Gilbert and Filippo Pozzato who are fast finishers in small groups."

    Hushovd has always been more than a pure sprinter, and has won prologues, time trials and Classics in addition to the points classifications of the 2005 and 2009 Tours de France and the 2006 Vuelta.

    A broken collarbone in May of this year hurt his preparation prior to the Tour de France, and Hushovd admitted he is lacking the pure speed needed for typical bunch sprints. "I haven't sprinted enough this year to win against someone like Mark Cavendish," he said.

    "When I came to the Vuelta, my first goal was to get back in race rhythm," the Cervélo rider said. "The second goal was to win a stage." Now that he has reached these two goals, he can focus on the world championships.

    At the start of stage 6 in Caravaca de la Cruz, Italian Filippo Pozzato identified Hushovd as one of the few sprinters who would be able to survive the climbs that litter the course of Geelong to claim the rainbow jersey in Australia on October 3rd. Hushovd's disadvantage will be the small number of teammates...

  • Cancellara on sale for €3 million?

    Fabian Cancellara (Saxo Bank)
    Article published:
    September 02, 2010, 20:55 BST
    Cycling News

    Riis may let Swiss star go for big bucks

    Saxo Bank team boss Bjarne Riis may be willing to let one of his top riders out of his contract, but if anyone wants time trial world champion Fabian Cancellara, it will come at the steep price of €3 million.

    The French newspaper L'Equipe reported today that Riis has not come out and stated that he would hold Cancellara to the remaining year of his contract with Saxo Bank, but said that any team wishing to buy him out would have to fork over the sum, equivalent to the budget of some smaller Pro teams, for the Paris-Roubaix/Tour of Flanders champion.

    Last month the Schleck brothers, Fränk and Andy, announced that they would be leaving Riis's team to form a new squad centered in their home country of Luxembourg, but have yet to name a title sponsor. It has been reported that the team was interested in taking Cancellara as well as a number of other Saxo Bank riders who are at the end of their contracts.

    The team's manager Brian Nygaard said last week that it had secured its budget and had signed some 20 riders, but has as yet refused to name the full roster.

  • Pozzato fancies Italian leadership at Worlds

    2005 Vattenfall Cyclassics winner Filippo Pozzato is once again sporting a 'stache.
    Article published:
    September 03, 2010, 1:11 BST
    Cycling News

    National coach Bettini to visit the Vuelta

    Filippo Pozzato is hoping he won't be wearing the regular Katusha uniform for longer than the duration of the Vuelta a España. Whilst he doesn't sport the Italian national champion's jersey anymore, there's another he'd like to don - the rainbow stripes of world champion.

    "My form is good," said the newly-mustachioed Italian prior to the start of stage six in Caravaca de la Cruz. "I'm getting better and better. In the first two hilly finishes I was up there helping Joaquin [Rodriguez] to be well positioned."

    Pozzato is clearly building his condition for the world championship in Australia on October 3. "Paolo Bettini has said that I'd be the team leader. He has great confidence in me; I'm one of the riders who can do well and I feel like a leader for this race."

    The Italian national coach will arrive at the Vuelta on Saturday for the uphill finish of Xorret de Cati and stay at the Spanish tour for three days.

    "We speak on the phone once every two days," Pozzato revealed. The former Italian champion and the new national coach paid a trip to Australia in mid-July to reconnoitre the course with the new Italian champion Giovanni Visconti, Daniele Bennati and Luca Paolini.

    "I was the one asking to go," said Pozzato, who skipped the Tour de France this year simply because the course of the world championship suits him so well.

    "I've learned from riding the course in Geelong that it's not typically for sprinters," Pozzato added. "It's a good course for Oscar Freire but not for Mark Cavendish. It might be okay for Thor Hushovd."

    Bettini will announce the Italian team on October 14. The selected riders will be reunited on October 20 the day after finishing the Vuelta and they'll fly to Melbourne the following day.

    Pozzato wants to jump on the plane with at least one stage win in his bag to enhance his confidence ahed of the world titles although he's already getting ready to fill the shoes of team...

  • Freire falters in Murcia

    Oscar Freire (Rabobank) arrives at the finish.
    Article published:
    September 03, 2010, 2:07 BST
    Cycling News

    Breathing difficulties hamper Spaniard's sprint

    Rabobank's Oscar Freire couldn't contest yesterday's sprint finish in Murcia after breathing difficulties forced the veteran fast man into 120th place, over 10 minutes behind stage winner Thor Hushovd (Cervélo TestTeam).

    "It was a bad day for me," Freire told Europa Press after the finish. "I was not breathing well and I realised that it wasn't happening for me - unfortunately today was a stage for me.

    "It was clear that I noticed straight away that I didn't feel good; it seemed that the others were faster than I," he added.

    The 34-year-old has experienced issues with his sinuses over the past two years, the latest being at the end of July when he required surgery to remove polyps from his sinuses. It kept him out of racing for several weeks, although he was able to resume training soon after the procedure.

    While he will fight on another day at the Vuelta for stage honours, Freire is also thinking about the effect of yesterday's episode on his chances at the world championships during the first week of October.

    "I must do well in this Vuelta to reach the world championships in good condition," continued Freire, although he added that he's not too concerned about what will happen on October 3. "Right now I don't care too much; I would worry if there were two weeks remaining [before Worlds], but there is one month - then I'm sure I'll be better."

  • Killer course for Canadian ProTour events

    Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Transitions) took second in the Amstel Gold Race.
    Article published:
    September 03, 2010, 6:12 BST
    Cycling News

    Mottet: "A non-pro wouldn't last more than five laps"

    Grand Prix Cycliste ProTour sporting manager Charly Mottet believes that the courses for Canada's two ProTour events will be one of the toughest in professional cycling's premier series.

    For 14 years Mottet was race director of the Critérium du Dauphiné Libéré stage race in France, a traditional warm-up event for the Tour de France, so he's very familiar with the construction of testing circuits that offer plenty for riders and fans alike.

    His role came after a successful career as a rider, the highlights of which included a win in the world championship road race of 1989, stage wins in Paris-Nice and the Tour de France plus three Criterium du Dauphiné Libéré titles. In 1991 he finished the Tour de France in fourth place overall.

    "These are circuits for tough riders," said Mottet. "These are two races that will really separate the men from the boys. A non-pro wouldn't last more than five laps."

    The two events, which will take place in Québec City and Montréal, offer riders a tough rolling test in the middle of both cities, which will make it appealing to fans, who have been starved of top-level bike racing for many years.

    "In Québec City, there's a climb to the finish line. That'll make it extra challenging and only the really tough riders will like it," said Mottet. "The circuit is right in the city, so people won't have to go far to see the race. It should be a great atmosphere.

    "The Montréal circuit already has a lot of history, with the 1974 Worlds, the 1976 Olympic Games and the Grand Prix des Amériques. People talk about Mount Royal, but the university hill and the little climb at the end are hard, too."

    Canadian rider Ryder Hesjedal (pictured above right) will go into both events as one of the favourites, having proven himself in both the Ardennes Classics and the Tour de France this season. He'll be up...

  • BikeNZ announces men’s Worlds long list

    Garmin's Julian Dean rides his trainer, perhaps too afraid of the gendarmes to go out on the open roads.
    Article published:
    September 03, 2010, 7:43 BST
    Cycling News

    Women’s team finalised

    BikeNZ has named its men’s long list for this month’s UCI Road World Championships in Geelong, Australia, with its big-named ProTour riders leading the charge for medals. Riders in contention for the elite men’s team include Julian Dean (Garmin Transitions), Hayden Roulston (HTC Columbia) and Greg Henderson (Team Sky), while former Dane Linda Villumsen and USA Cycling National Racing Calendar champion Cath Cheatley will lead the women’s squad.

    “This is probably the strongest team overall that we have ever selected for the Road World Championships with potential medal opportunities,” said BikeNZ road programme sporting director Andy Reid.

    New Zealand has qualified three riders to start in each of the men and under-23 road races and two in the time trial. The women have qualified six starters in the road race and two in the time trial and unlike the men’s team the roster has already been confirmed for the women.

    “The selectors decided on a squad of six as our riders are still competing in a number of high profile races around the world and as we have seen at the Vuelta a Espana with Julian, injuries can occur in this sport,” said Reid. “We expect that our Pro-Tour riders will form the basis of this team if they make it through the next two weeks of racing with a clean bill of health.

    “It was particularly challenging selecting the team because we have such a strong group of riders starting to come through as well as proven performers on the world stage.”

    Joining Dean, Henderson and Roulston in the men’s squad is national champion Jack Bauer, US-based professional Jeremy Vennell and national time trial champion Gordon McCauley, who will ride in this event at the Commonwealth Games.

    BikeNZ teams:
    Elite men (three from):
    Julian Dean, Hayden Roulston, Greg Henderson, Jack Bauer, Jeremy Vennell and Gordon...

  • Van Hummel to stay with Skil-Shimano in 2011

    Kenny Robert Van Hummel (Skil - Shimano) on the podium following his stage win.
    Article published:
    September 03, 2010, 10:18 BST
    Susan Westemeyer

    Popular rider stays with Pro Continental team

    Kenny Van Hummel has decided to stay with Skil-Shimano for another year. The popular Dutch rider announced his decision Friday morning on Twitter.

    “After a period of orientation, conversating and good thinking I have made up my mind and agreed to stay at Skil-Shimano for another year!,” the 27-year-old tweeted, in his descriptive, if not perfect, English.

    Van Hummel has been with the Dutch Professional Continental team since 2006. He has two victories to his name this season, having won stages in both the Tour de Picardie and the Tour of Belgium.

    In 2009, he had five wins, but was best known for his performance in the Tour de France. He was the first to start in the opening time trial and brought in the second-slowest time. After the sixth stage he was last in the overall classification and his struggles to hang on during the mountain stages brought him enormous popularity. A crash in the 17th stage finally forced him out of the race.

    The Skil-Shimano team intends to remain Pro Continental in 2011, although it had considered applying for ProTour status. It rode both the Tour de France and Vuelta a Espana in 2009, but was not invited to any of the grand tours this year.

    Skil-Shimano has so far signed five new riders for the 2011 season, three Germans and two French: Roger Kluge and Johannes Fröhlinger are coming over from Milram, and Marcel Kittel from the Thüringer Energie Team. French riders Thomas Bonnin and Thomas Damuseau will both be making their professional debut with the team.

  • Visconti continues to dominate UCI's Europe Tour rankings

    Giovanni Visconti (ISD)
    Article published:
    September 03, 2010, 10:42 BST
    Susan Westemeyer

    Consistent Italian rider leads Ricco

    Giovanni Visconti of the ISD-Neri team continues to dominate the UCI's Europe Tour rankings after increasing his lead with further strong performances in August.

    The 27-year-old won the ranking last year and has led this year's rankings since winning the overall title in the Presidential Tour of Turkey. His successes include the Italian national road championship title. He will ride the Giro della Romagna one-day race on Sunday and hopes to secure a leading role in the Italian national team at the World Championships in Melbourne.

    Visconti pulled in more points in August to pad his lead with top ten finishes in the Trofeo Matteotti, GP Citta di Camaiore, Tre Valli Varesine and Trofeo Melinda.

    He currently has 687 points, ahead of second-ranked Riccardo Riccò who has 424 points. Riccò, who only returned to racing in March after serving a doping suspension, still has the mathematical possibility to win the rankings. He started the season with Ceramica Flaminia, but left the team last month and signed a two-year contract with Dutch team Vacansoleil. He will make his debut with the Dutch team as of this Sunday at the Giro della Romagna.

    Steven Van Dijk (Willems Verandas) is in third place, only one point behind Riccò. He moved up from fourth place after winning the GP Stadt Zottegen.

    Vacansoleil took over first place in the team rankings, a position it can expect to hold on to due to Ricco's presence. Cofidis is second and CarmioOro-NGC is third. Italy leads the nations standings, ahead of France and Spain.