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First Edition Cycling News, Friday, September 4, 2009

Date published:
September 04, 2009, 1:00 BST
  • Wegmann returns to racing at GP Jef Scherens

    Fabian Wegmann (Milram) after Tour de France stage six
    Article published:
    September 03, 2009, 22:17 BST
    Cycling News

    First race for Wegmann since recovering from back injury

    Team Milram will make its debut appearance at Belgium's GP Jef Scherens on Sunday, marking the return to competition for Germany's Fabian Wegmann. The team will be led by Dutchman Servais Knaven at the challenging 183.3-kilometre circuit race in Leuven.

    "This is a race that ought to be good for our team," said Christian Henn, Team Milram directeur sportif. "Our squad is set up to ride offensively and we hope for a good placing. It is especially an important race for Fabian Wegmann after his long break, since the World Championships at the end of September are his biggest goal."

    The 29-year-old Wegmann crashed in the fifth stage of the Dauphiné Libéré and further exasperated the injury during the Tour de France. Wegmann missed the Vattenfall Cyclassics, the GP Ouest-France and selection for the Vuelta a España while he recovered.

    The GP Jef Scherens has been carried out since 1963 and riders will face four stiff 'hellingen' [climbs] on each of the circuit's 14.1-kilometre laps.

    Team Milram's lineup for the GP Jef Scherens includes Johannes Fröhlinger, Artur Gajek, Servais Knaven, Ronny Scholz, Niki Terpstra, Peter Velits, Fabian Wegmann and Peter Wrolich.

  • Euskaltel's Martinez inspired by Sánchez's leadership

    Egoi Martinez (Euskaltel-Euskadi)
    Article published:
    September 03, 2009, 23:40 BST
    Cycling News

    Martinez puts own Vuelta GC aspirations aside to assist team's leader

    Egoi Martinez has had admirable results in previous years at the Vuelta a España, finishing 12th overall in 2006 while racing for the Discovery Channel team followed in 2008 by a ninth place general classification for his present Euskaltel-Euskadi squad. Martinez also won a stage and collected the best climber's jersey at the 2006 Vuelta and led the Spanish Grand Tour for four days in 2008.

    In 2009, however, his mission is solely to work for Euskaltel-Euskadi's team leader Samuel Sánchez, the Vuelta a España's third place finisher in 2007 and 2008 Beijing Olympic road race champion.

    "What motivates a team is a good leader and in this Vuelta we have it," said Martinez. "Samu [Samuel Sánchez] is very motivated and conveys that confidence to all. I think that for the first time this team can win a Grand Tour.

    "It's been a difficult summer for the team and we need something to celebrate. I believe that in this Vuelta we're going to have that. So far the race has not revealed many things, but I think the time trial in Valencia will provide some clarity."

    Martinez has been plagued with heavy legs during the Vuelta stages in The Netherlands, but looks forward to being back in Spain. "After the Tour and Clasica San Sebastian, the body seems to be somewhat relaxed despite the training. I think it was more psychological than physical fatigue, but I'm going to pick up the pace and I am optimistic about my performance from now on."

    The Spaniard has had his share of crashes in the Vuelta, bearing abrasions to his knee, arms and hand "but it's nothing serious, just an annoyance."

    Martinez is looking forward to his favored terrain in the mountains. "I'll be able to carry out the team's strategy by either getting in the breakaways or being near Samuel on the climbs, to help when it comes to setting a good tempo."

  • Top quality field for flip-flopped Tour of Missouri

    St Louis will host a circuit race this year
    Article published:
    September 03, 2009, 23:42 BST
    Laura Weislo

    Race debuts east-to-west parcours

    The third Tour of Missouri will kick off in "The Gateway City", St. Louis, with a festival befitting the race's increased stature. Set for the US Labor Day holiday on September 7, the high-quality professional field will be the main attraction for the first stage as six ProTour, two Professional Continental and seven domestic teams take on the fast and flat circuit through downtown St. Louis.

    Fans will flock to the pre-race activities which include amateur races, a weekend of professional women's racing, appearances by the pro men as well as a host of other bike-related events.

    Starring in the show will be American George Hincapie, who will sport his new stars and stripes jersey he earned by winning the US Professional championships last weekend. Big George will likely be working to bring his teammate and prolific sprint winner Mark Cavendish to the line for the first stage win of the 2009 Tour.

    Also appearing will be Tour of California winner Levi Leipheimer, who returns after rehabilitating a broken wrist sustained in the Tour de France. He'll be backed by a solid Astana line-up, which will include Yaroslav Popovych and Jani Brajkovic.

    The Garmin-Slipstream team will field a strong squad designed to defend Christian Vande Velde's title from last year. They'll bring David Zabriskie, who is fresh from his fourth US Time Trial championship in a row.

    Other top names on the roster are Cervelo TestTeam's big Norwegian sprinter Thor Hushovd and classics star Heinrich Haussler, Liquigas' Franco Pellizotti, Saxo Bank's Jens Voigt and Gustav Larsson and BMC's Jeff Louder.

    Expect the best of the domestic peloton to be in attendance as well, with Colavita/Sutter Home squad, Kelly Benefit Strategies, Jelly Belly, Bissell, Team Type 1, OUCH Pro Cycling and the Canadian team Planet Energy all packed with enough talent to give the ProTour teams a challenge.

    The organisers made a clever switch to the route this year,...

  • Hermans to join RadioShack

    Article published:
    September 04, 2009, 8:57 BST
    Cycling News

    First-year pro leaves Topsport Vlaanderen a year early

    Ben Hermans is leaving Topsport Vlaanderen to join Team RadioShack. The young Belgian called the transfer “a dream”.

    The first-year-pro is a gifted climber, but also a good time trialist. This season he wore the leader's jersey for one stage in the Vuelta a Burgos and finished second in the GP Kanton Argau – Gippingen.

    Hermans, 22, had a contract with Belgian squad Topsport Vlaanderen through 2010, but was able to buy out the contract. “With this transfer to RadioShack, a dream comes true,” he said, according to Het Nieuwsblad. Reportedly, Hermans only has a verbal agreement with the newly formed US team, with the two-year contract yet to be signed.

    Hermans will be the third Belgian on the team including Lance Armstrong. It has already been announced that Gert Steegmans and Sebastien Rosseler will join the new US outfit.

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  • Hansen enjoying the Vuelta

    Adam Hansen could crack a smile on the finish line knowing his teammate Greipel finished first.
    Article published:
    September 04, 2009, 8:59 BST
    Susan Westemeyer

    Columbia Australian was unaware of Liège crash

    Adam Hansen of Team Columbia-HTC is having a good time at the Vuelta, enjoying his team's three stage victories so far. The 28-year-old told Cyclingnews that the race went “so far so good" for himself and his squad, which also has sprinter Andre Greipel leading the points classification on top of having scored two stage wins already. 

    Hansen said it was the team's ambition to win the jersey. "I hope that Andre can stay in green until Madrid," he said. "That's our goal, or at least mine. I'd like to see him win it. He's had a great year.”

    Hansen was one of the few to be ahead of the mass crash shortly before the finish in the Vuelta's fourth stage in Liège, Belgium. The Australian said he wasn't at all aware of what happened behind him.

    “I was lucky, in fact I didn't even know it happened,” he continued. Hansen was leading the peloton and helping to set things up for the eventual winner, Greipel. “When I finished my turn, I swung off, waiting for the bunch and saw no one. When I looked back I couldn't see anyone and thought I should have kept going.”

    Hansen also applauded New Zealander Greg Henderson's stage win, calling it “super cool. He's a a great sprinter.”

    The Vuelta's visit to the Netherlands, Germany and Belgium on its way to Spain appealed to him, despite the great temperature differences. “It's good to have a Grand Tour in many countries for the people to watch. The start at the race track had so many people! It was a great atmosphere.”

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  • Denifl signs with Cervélo

    The final jersey holders: Leonardo Bertagnolli (mountains), Andre Greipel (sprints), Michael Albasini (overall) and Stefan Denifl (best Austrian)
    Article published:
    September 04, 2009, 10:05 BST
    Hedwig Kröner

    Big step forward for Austrian Espoir

    The Cervélo TestTeam announced on Friday the signing of a two-year contract with Stefan Denifl from Austria. Denifl won the International Thüringen Rundfahrt this year and finished 8th in the overall classification at the Tour of Austria.

    "Stefan Denifl is a really talented rider and will fit very well in our team with his strong climbing and time trialling skills," said Cervélo team manager Thomas Campana.

    Denilf himself was thrilled with the new contract. "Cervélo TestTeam is one of the best cycling teams in the world," he said. "I like the international mix of riders. It is a great chance and I am proud to be with this team."

    The former mountain biker changed to road cycling in 2003 and for the past two years has raced for Team Elk Haus-Simplon. In 2008, the now 21-year-old, claimed the Austrian National Time Trial Championship title.

    Despite the promise he has already shown Denifl said he will take his time to learn before trying to win races at a higher level. "The most important thing for me is to be a good worker for the team, my time will come soon enough. With this perfect set up I can make a big step forward as a professional."

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  • Hincapie wants stage in Missouri

    George Hincapie (Columbia-HTC) shows off his new stars and stripes jersey.
    Article published:
    September 04, 2009, 11:08 BST
    Hedwig Kröner

    Columbia-HTC well-prepared for US event

    With Monday's start of the Tour of Missouri fast approaching, Columbia-HTC's eight riders for the week-long race are confident they will continue the team's winning 2009 season. Sports director Tristan Hoffman previewed his team's goals, promising that all eight of the athletes will be on the hunt for victory - especially US Pro Champion George Hincapie.

    "One of his goals is to win a stage wearing his new US Champion jersey," said Hoffman.

    Hincapie himself did not deny a stage victory on home turf, wearing the jersey would be appealing. "Sure, it's exciting to be back in the Stars and Stripes, racing with my team in the United States," said Hincapie. "It's a great honour and I am very motivated."

    But Hoffman will not count on the US native alone. "We also bring Mark Cavendish, the world's fastest sprinter, backed by a team of experienced, highly motivated riders and we have great expectations," he continued. "There should be lots of opportunities for bunch sprints, and of course we will take full advantage.

    "[Australian Time Trial Champion] Michael Rogers is eager and really well prepared He had a good showing in the Giro d'Italia and Eneco Tour, and is even stronger now," Hoffman continued. "And it's always something special for our team to race in the United States, since our home base is here in California. We have every chance of getting some great results in Missouri."

    The full Columbia-HTC line-up for the Tour of Missouri is: Michael Barry, Mark Cavendish, Bernhard Eisel, George Hincapie, Craig Lewis, Marco Pinotti, Michael Rogers and Kanstantsin Sivtsov.

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  • Spanish announce Worlds pre-selection

    Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne)
    Article published:
    September 04, 2009, 11:44 BST
    Richard Tyler

    Valverde, Freire and Sánchez named as Sastre and Leon Sanchez stay home

    The Spanish Cycling Federation (RFEC) has announced a 16-man pre-selection for this month's World Championship road race in Mendrisio, Switzerland. Alejandro Valverde, Samuel Sánchez and three-time World Champion Oscar Freire have all been named in the long list.

    The preliminary squad consists of Caisse d'Epargne's Valverde, Joaquim Rodriguez, Daniel Moreno, Alberto Losada; Rabobank's Freire, Juan Manuel Garate, Juan Antonio Flecha; Euskaltel-Euskadi's Sánchez, Igor Anton; Xacobeo-Galicia's Ezequiel Mosquera, David Garcia; Xavier Tondo (Andalusia-Cajasur), José Angel Gomez Marchante (Cervélo TestTeam), Carlos Barredo (Quick Step) David de la Fuente (Fuji-Servetto) and Liberty Seguros' Spanish National Champion Ruben Plaza.

    Spanish Head Coach Jose Luis De Santos said he will make the final nine-man selection based on performances at the Vuelta a España, although he acknowledged that there were riders absent from the Grand Tour who will also be considered.

    "It is an almost closed list, but not one hundred percent of riders at the Vuelta are guaranteed a spot [on the Worlds team]," said De Santos. "The Vuelta is not the only reference as there are some cyclists such as Plaza, Losada and Flecha who are not racing there, but they are in competition and may also find a place on the team for the World Championship."

    In addition to the 16 named for a potential start in the road race, the RFEC confirmed their two representatives for the individual time trial, to be held on September 24. Jose Ivan Gutierrez (Caisse d'Epargne) and Hector Guerra (Liberty Seguros) will travel to Switzerland to compete in the 49.8 kilometre race against the clock.

    "Gutierrez and Guerra will be devoted exclusively to the time trial," said De Santos. "It is clear to me that it would be a disadvantage for a rider to do the time trial and the road race. The two events are very different in terms of preparation and the...