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First Edition Cycling News, Friday, September 9, 2011

Date published:
September 09, 2011, 1:00 BST
  • India Cyclothon Dehli postponed

    The India national team getting ready to leave from the Trident Bandra Kurla Hotel to the race course of the Mumbai Cyclothon, Saxo Bank riders leaving in the background.
    Article published:
    September 08, 2011, 22:42 BST
    Cycling News

    Terrorist blast at high court puts off race

    The India Cyclothon in Dehli, India, a UCI 1.2 race, has been postponed after a September 7 bomb blast that killed 12 people and wounded 76 near the city's high court.

    The race, due to be run on September 11, was to have seen the inclusion of the Pakistani national team according to The Times of India, but the team was informed today that the event has been put off indefinitely.

    "We had prepared to send an eight-member team to Delhi, but we have been told the event has been postponed as the Indian government has directed the organisers to postpone the event for an indefinite period because of the bomb blast incident," said Idrees Haider Khawaja, the secretary of the Pakistan Cycling Federation.

    India had frozen ties with Pakistan after a 2008 blast in Mumbai, and had only recently opened up the country's borders to allowing Pakistani teams to participate in sporting events. It was reported that the Pakistani team's invitation will still be valid for the race when a new date is announced.

    "It's indeed sad as we have spent a lot of money in preparation for the race," said Khawaja. "It all went in vain but we have another race coming up in Syria for which we are sending our top four cyclists later this month."

  • AIGCP and UCI negotiate deal for Tour of Beijing

    With race radio banned, Cancellara uses his hand to call for his team car
    Article published:
    September 09, 2011, 0:51 BST
    Cycling News

    UCI agrees to study race radio issue

    The world's top teams will participate in the Tour of Beijing after the UCI agreed to postpone the implementation of a complete ban on race radios until the end of 2012.

    The two sides have been at odds over the radio issue, with teams asserting that communication between team directors and riders during races is critical to rider safety, while the UCI contends that it makes racing too predictable and dull.

    The teams organisation, Association International des Groupes Cyclistes Professionels (AIGCP), threatened to boycott the UCI's newest WorldTour event in China to force the UCI to re-examine the radio issue.

    After months of negotiations, the UCI agreed to create an independent commission to examine the radio issue during the 2012 season while keeping the current regulations in place.

    Radios are not allowed in any race except those at the WorldTour level.

    The fight is not yet over, however, as the AIGCP is objecting to not having a say in who is selected for the commission to study the radio issue.

    "We regret that UCI are still insisting that they appoint the Commission members and have failed to respond formally to our draft terms of reference for the Commission," an AIGCP statement said. "This risks both the credibility of the Commission and could lead to a rejection of its findings due to bias.

    "It is vital that this Commission is independent and its way of doing business is mutually acceptable to both the UCI and the teams. We urge UCI to respond fully to our draft terms of reference and to agree [to] a process to appoint the Commission members and its Chair. Without this there is a real danger the Commissioners will have...

  • Hepburn excluded from Tour de l'Avenir for offensive gesture

    Michael Hepburn (Australia) crosses the finish line
    Article published:
    September 09, 2011, 1:50 BST
    Jane Aubrey

    UPDATED: Doubt remains over selection in Australian team for worlds

    Having spent this week on a high following his two stage wins at the Tour de l'Avenir, Australia's Michael Hepburn has been excluded from taking further part in the race.

    The moves comes after the 20-year-old celebrated his stage 3 victory on Wednesday by 'flipping the bird' as he crossed the finish line in Porrentruy after he escaped in an uphill sprint from Jordi Simon (Spain) and Christopher Juul-Jensen (Denmark). Having won the Tour's prologue time trial on Sunday, Hepburn's second success of the week had moved him up the general classification order from 15th to second place, with Canada's David Boily 28 seconds ahead.

    Vision of Hepburn's win shows the talented Queenslander raise his fist in celebration before the offending gesture was made, raising the ire of team manager Neil Stephens who not only made the decision to withdraw his charge from the race, but also impose a fine of 1500 Euros.

    A response from Cycling Australia explained that the "inappropriate gesture" was a reaction to a 30 second time penalty he was given by officials the day before for not holding his line during the final sprint.

    "That's not acceptable behaviour for a rider in an Australian team and as a result, in consultation with the race organisers, he was taken out of the race," spokeswoman Gennie Sheer said in a statement to Cyclingnews.

    "Michael has formally apologised to the organisers and officials and accepted the decision."

    It is not yet known what affect the penalty will have, if any, on Hepburn's selection in the Australian team for the UCI Road World Championships in Copenhagen later this...

  • GreenEdge's classics ambitions boosted with Keukeleire

    Adam Blythe (Omega Pharma-Lotto) follows Jens Keukeleire (Cofidis) during the stage two breakaway
    Article published:
    September 09, 2011, 2:45 BST
    Jane Aubrey

    Young Belgian joins Australian project from Cofidis

    Following news this week that GreenEdge has finalised its roster for what is hoped will be the Australian project’s debut season as a ProTour team, Belgian Jens Keukeleire has been announced as the latest recruit.

    Keukeleire is the 19th rider to join GreenEdge and has spent the past two seasons with the Cofidis team, winning the 3-Daagse van West-Vlaanderen and the Nokere Koerse for the French squad in 2010.

    At age 22, Keukeleire becomes an important asset for the fledgling outfit but even with his inclusion the average age of GreenEdge currently stands near 29 years.

    "If you look at the list, and the ages if some of our riders we're looking two, three, four years out," financial backer Gerry Ryan told Cyclingnews this week, indicating that GreenEdge would be announcing some younger riders to join Stuart O’Grady, Pieter Weening, Robbie McEwen, Baden Cooke, Matt Wilson, Jens Mouris, Simon Gerrans, Svein Tuft and Michael Albasini who are all aged 30 and above.

    In a statement released by GreenEdge, Keukeleire explained that he was hoping to learn from the likes of O’Grady and McEwen, who he said he has "enormous respect for."

    "I still have a lot to learn. I need to get stronger and to improve my training, my technique and my tactical skills," he admitted. "GreenEdge is giving me the platform and time to improve and develop on all those areas.

    "Because I know the position and knowledge of Australian cycling it was not a hard decision.

    "I look forward to working with the highly qualified staff and to be part of a great group of riders."

    GreenEdge general manager Shayne Bannan explained that he has had his eye on Keukeleire for a few years.

    "When I was part of the national team I saw Jens race against our under-23 squad and...

  • Sutherland and Förster to continue at UnitedHealthcare in 2012

    Defending champion Rory Sutherland (United Healthcare Professional Cycling Team) rode into the race lead with a time of 13:08.02.
    Article published:
    September 09, 2011, 5:48 BST
    Cycling News

    Captains praise atmosphere at US team

    UnitedHealthcare has announced that team captains Rory Sutherland and Robert Förster will stay with the team next year, after both enjoying successful seasons with the team.

    Sutherland now in his sixth year with the team, has had one of his best years to date with the team, capped with an impressive 7th overall in the Amgen Tour of California. The Australian, a top stage racer, has long been linked with a move back to Europe however he explained that another year in the US was too good to turn down.

    "I am happy to be racing with Team UnitedHealthcare again in 2012 and helping it continue to grow," said Sutherland. "We have had a great group of teammates here (both existing and new) that have made racing with this team so enjoyable. I wouldn’t be doing it if I didn’t feel happy and at home [here].

    "I consider myself very lucky to do the job that I do and for all of our great and very involved sponsors, especially our title sponsor, UnitedHealthcare. I am looking forward to continuing on in 2012."

    Former Gerolsteiner rider Förster came to the team at the beginning of the year and has taken to the split European and US schedule seamlessly. The German has had wins in four countries this season as well as standing on the podium on more than a dozen occasions.

    "I am very happy to race for UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling again next year," said Förster. "This has been a good season and I cannot say enough about my teammates and this organization and its sponsors. We still have to finish out 2011, but I am really looking forward to 2012."

  • Sánchez leads Euskatel-Euskadi at Tour of Beijing

    Sammy Sanchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi) at the team introductions.
    Article published:
    September 09, 2011, 6:46 BST
    Cycling News

    Olympic champion returns to China

    Olympic champion Samuel Sánchez will return to the scene of his career-making victory when he lines up in the inaugural Tour of Beijing next month.

    In the first of 18 team announcements for the Wednesday 5 to Sunday 9 October event, the Spaniard will lead his Euskatel-Euskadi teammates through the Chinese capital where he fought off hot and humid conditions and steep terrain to claim victory in the longest and one of the most grueling courses in Olympic history.

    For Sánchez, who wears a gold helmet in honour of his Olympic success, the victory could not have been more career-defining.
    "To be Olympic champion is the most beautiful thing that can happen to an athlete in the exercise of their activity. You're a global player, and that has an incalculable impact," Sánchez said.

    "For me it means so much to return to where I was crowned Olympic champion. It was a very demanding race, with a very hard course and a spectacular goal, a beautiful place.

    "The fight for the medals was very intense and I got an incredible victory that marked a before and after in my professional life."
    For the first time since his Olympic victory, Sánchez will return to the city which will forever hold a cherished space in his heart, as one of the favourites for the Tour of Beijing.

    "Without a doubt, it was one of the best experiences of my life and I will be happy to be back there, I know it will be a very special feeling. It was a beautiful experience and the return will be exciting," Sánchez said.

    "I will go with a special motivation. We will try to give 100 per cent in this new race on our calendar.

    "Cycling continues to globalise, we're getting further and further away to Australia,...

  • Vuelta heads to Basque Country after 33-year absence

    The flag of the Basque country.
    Article published:
    September 09, 2011, 8:38 BST
    Stephen Farrand

    Stages set to be a celebration of cycling

    The Vuelta a España returns to the Basque Country on Friday and Saturday for the first time since 1978, with race organisers hoping for a celebration by Basque cycling fans rather than protests and road blocks that affected two stages in the 1978 Vuelta.

    The politics and the struggle for independence has changed in recent years, with the armed separatist group ETA declared a partial ceasefire last September. Cycling hopes to play its part in the peace process, bring the sport to the Basque Country and allow the cycling crazy Basque fans to enjoy the final days of racing.

    Friday's stage finishes in Bilbao, with the final 100km of the stage in the Basque Country. Saturday's 185km stage starts in Bilbao and ends in the regional capital Vitoria after a twisting route through the Basque mountains.

    "It’s very important for the Vuelta to visit the Basque Country again after an absence of 33 years," the Vuelta General Director Javier Guillén said.

    "It's where Spanish cycling gets the best support in terms of quantity and quality. The Vuelta has to go where cycling is popular. There’s an obvious link between the Vuelta and the Basque Country. The Basque newspaper El Correo Español was the organiser of the Vuelta for many years and the race is always associated with history of the sport."

    The political tension and protests during the Giro di Padania in Italy has brought back memories of how politics and sport often cause stages to be disrupted.

    In 1978 protesters forced a road race stage to be cancelled by blocking the road, and the time trial in San Sebastian was also affected and no times were included in the official results....

  • Longo in hot water with AFLD

    Jeannie Longo with another gold medal in her national championships
    Article published:
    September 09, 2011, 9:14 BST
    Cycling News

    French veteran risks suspension after missed doping control

    Jeannie Longo may have ridden her last professional bike race, after the French Cycling Federation (FFC) announced its intention to start a disciplinary procedure for twice giving insufficient whereabouts information and once missing a doping control earlier in the year.

    According to reports from l'Equipe, the third violation came in June when the 52-year-old was in the US preparing for the French time trial championships. USADA officials came to the hotel she was supposed to be staying, but Longo was absent. USADA then notified the French Anti-Doping Authority (AFLD) who have recently passed on the case again to the FFC.

    Though missing a test is always treated seriously by any national cycling federation, riders are only ever suspended after three infringements to the whereabouts localisation system. Longo now risks a suspension of at least three months, up to two years. This calls in to serious question her participation at the World Championships in Copenhagen as well as the continuation of her career.

    Longo, who does not own a mobile phone or laptop and prefers a secluded lifestyle together with her husband and trainer, has competed for more than 30 years. She has consistently been able to ride at the elite level of the sport, with numerous world and national championships on the track and road. If she receives the expected two-year ban, she will likely be forced to retire from the sport.

    The legendary French rider has not been able or willing to explain why she failed to communicate her whereabouts. "If the athlete cannot justify the infringements, it is evident that he or she should be banned for two years, no less," World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) legal advisor Olivier Niggli told L'Equipe. Indeed, if the FFC choses to sanction Longo with a shorter suspension, WADA may intervene and appeal the decision in front of the Court of...