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First Edition Cycling News, Monday, August 22, 2011

Date published:
August 22, 2011, 1:00 BST
  • Basso hopeful he can shine in Colorado

    Ivan Basso on the front
    Article published:
    August 21, 2011, 11:13 BST
    Cycling News

    Italian leads Liquigas-Cannondale at USA Pro Cycling Challenge

    Ivan Basso (Liquigas-Cannondale) has arrived in Colorado ahead of the USA Pro Cycling Challenge and the he is hoping that his post-Tour de France form will allow him to be competitive in the American race.

    After a promising start to his Tour campaign, Basso struggled in the third week in the Alps and ultimately finished in 8th place in Paris. The Italian was prominent in support of Peter Sagan at the Tre Valli Varesine last week, however, and is looking to remain competitive all the way through to the Tour of Lombardy in October.

    “The last few races have given me positive confirmation of my form and I want to take on this test to the maximum of my capabilities,” Basso said of the USA Pro Cycling Challenge.

    The recent Tour of Utah demonstrated the threat that will be posed by the motivated quota of home riders, but Basso noted that the terrain in Colorado might prove to his liking.

    “The start list is well stacked, especially with the Americans who have shown that they are going very strongly,” Basso said. “Colorado offers the kind of tough routes that I like, so I’ll play all of my cards to try and bring a new satisfaction to our ‘home’ sponsor Cannondale.”

    Joining Basso in the Liquigas squad at the USA Pro Cycling Challenge will be domestique deluxe Sylwester Szmyd and Colorado native Timmy Duggan. Sprinter Elia Viviani will also aim to be competitive, while Ted King and the in-form Daniel Oss could play prominent roles.

    “Basso is benefiting from a very good post-Tour de France condition, and I expect as much from Szmyd,” Liquigas directeur sportif Stefano Zanatta said. “The route is suited to his characteristics and even the time trial...

  • Sicard set for return to racing

    Under-23 World Champion Romain Sicard (Euskaltel-Euskadi)
    Article published:
    August 21, 2011, 12:14 BST
    Cycling News

    Frenchman begins comeback from injury at Classic de l'Indre

    Romain Sicard (Euskaltel-Euskadi) returns to racing for the first time since March at the Classic de l’Indre on Sunday. The young Frenchman has been plagued by muscular problems in his right leg throughout the season.

    “I’ve had a complicated problem with my right leg, and it’s been hard to pinpoint the reason,” Sicard told L’Équipe. “I had a few crashes in December which altered my cleat position and created a significant muscular imbalance. I lost force in my right leg: I had the impression that only the left leg was working. It’s a hard injury to diagnose and one which takes time to heal.”

    Sicard spent two months undergoing physiotherapy near his team’s headquarters in Bilbao before finally getting back on the bike in late July. While he makes an eagerly-awaited return to racing on Sunday, his ambitions are understandably modest. The former under 23 world champion’s primary goal is simply to feel his way back into racing ahead of the 2012 season.

    “I’m totally short of condition. I still have to do specific sessions with the physio and the osteopath,” Sicard admitted. “The objective is above all to regain the normal life of a rider.

    “I’ve barely raced this season, so I’m really hungry. I’d love to be able to come back 100 per cent between now and the end of the season – not to get results, but to start 2012 with all of this behind me.”

    During his lengthy lay-off, Sicard had to watch from the sidelines as his fellow French hopefuls Pierre Rolland (Europcar) and Arnold Jeannesson (FDJ) impressed at the Tour de France.

  • Vinokourov has his future in his hands

    Alexandre Vinokourov (Astana)
    Article published:
    August 21, 2011, 17:19 BST
    Jean-François Quénet

    Astana allows rider to continue or manage the team

    Following Alexandre Vinokourov's announcement that he might ride the Tour of Lombardy, Astana's commercial director Dr. Aidar Makhmetov told Cyclingnews that the Kazakh champion is free to decide about his future, whether it's in a role as a rider, a team manager or at the Kazakh Cycling Federation.

    Vinokourov is recovering from a broken femur sustained in a Tour de France crash, and was given the go-ahead to resume training this week. He had previously said he would retire from the sport rather than make a come-back.

    In the recent decisions such as bringing Andrey Kashechkin back to Astana, Makhmetov has been seen as the man who pulls the strings. "I'm the link between the team and the main sponsor of the Kazakh Cycling Federation [Samruk Kazyna]," he told Cyclingnews. "Our team manager Giuseppe Martinelli is in charge of the recruitment. I only confirm the duration of the contracts. I almost automatically say OK to what Martinelli wants."

    "Kashechkin was the co-founder of the team [with Vinokourov in May 2006]," Makhmetov recalled. "It's logical that he's back at Astana now, because unlike Italy, Spain or France, Kazakhstan doesn't have many riders of his level. I hope that already during this Vuelta, he shows good results. I believe that he has five successful years ahead of him.

    "We've been very satisfied with our performance at the team time trial on Saturday. It's Astana's best TTT since we won at the 2009 Tour de France but that was with [Alberto] Contador, [Levi] Leipheimer, Lance Armstrong, etc, that team was unbeatable."

    Since the departure of the stars to RadioShack and Saxo Bank-SunGard, Astana has a new policy to bring young Kazakh riders up to the highest level. "For next year, we're creating Astana 2," Makhmetov said. "It...

  • Team Type 1-Sanofi adds El Fares, Antomarchi

    Julien Antomarchi (Velo-Club La Pomme Marseille) wins the stage
    Article published:
    August 21, 2011, 23:22 BST
    Laura Weislo

    Frenchmen add international flavour to American squad

    The Team Type 1 - Sanofi squad will bring in two Frenchmen for the team in 2012, adding Julien El Fares from Cofidis and Julien Antomarchi of the La Pomme Marseille squad, the team confirmed to Cyclingnews.

    Sponsor Sanofi, headquartered in Paris, was the impetus behind adding the French riders.

    El Fares, 26, has been with the Cofidis squad since he was brought in as a trainee in 2006 and then signed to a professional contract for the following seasons.

    An aggressive rider, El Fares is a frequent presence in breakaways and packs a formidable sprint from a small group. He won the first stage of the 2009 Tirreno-Adriatico from a breakaway and won the overall points classification, and also claimed the overall victory in the Tour de Wallonie that year after getting into a winning escape on the penultimate stage.

    Antomarchi, 27, has raced mainly in the elite amateur ranks, having had a stint as a trainee with Skil-Shimano in 2009, but his VC La Pomme Marseille team went Continental this year.

    Earlier in the month, Antomarchi denied that he had signed a contract with Team Type 1 to, stating that he was under contract with his current squad through 2012.

    Antomarchi, one of the strongest riders on the VC La Pomme Marseille team, bested Thomas Voeckler to win a stage of the Tour du Haut Var in February and took second overall.

  • Sutton's Vuelta win a "dream come true"

    Chris Sutton (Sky) rockets to victory on stage two of the Vuelta a Espana.
    Article published:
    August 22, 2011, 2:32 BST
    Cycling News

    Sky fight back after disappointing team time trial

    In the best form of his 2011 season, Chris Sutton (Sky) won the second stage of the Vuelta a España – his first stage win in a Grand Tour.

    Sutton followed the wheel of Omega Pharma-Lotto's Vicente Reynes as the two broke away from the bunch over the winding run to the finish before edging ahead of the Spaniard over the final 30 metres. Sutton, who won Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne in February, was quick to praise the efforts of his teammates.

    "For me it's a dream come true to win a stage at a Grand Tour," he said following the victory. "We don't exactly have the perfect lead-out train here but what we do have is strength.

    "Kurt's [Asle Arvesen] the big ‘El Capitano' and he was looking after us all day and told us when we needed to get to the front; he was a big help to me. It was really myself and Brad [Wiggins] who didn't have to go back to the car which was perfect.

    "Then I was with Bradley and he took me up the outside. I then came flying round the roundabout with about 2.5km to go. I had good speed and was on Thomas Lofkvist's wheel so I just yelled at him ‘Go!'. He looked back, saw it was me and then just drilled it straight up the right-hand side and took me right to the front, positioning me perfectly.

    "I thought ‘oh this is a long way to go' and I looked back and no one was there. So to win today and to deliver it for all of Team Sky is a dream come true – I can't believe it."

    The win also earned Sutton the points jersey.

    Front of mind for the Australian, was the absence of Team Sky soigneur, Txema González who died of sepsis...

  • GreenEdge engine room gets a boost with Mouris

    Jens Mouris (Vacansoleil)
    Article published:
    August 22, 2011, 5:02 BST
    Jane Aubrey

    Dutchman a fan of "Australian mentality towards sports"

    Jens Mouris will join Stuart O'Grady in the GreenEdge engine room, the Dutchman the project's latest signing.

    General Manager Shayne Bannan said that Mouris' 197 centimetre frame, which carries his 91 kilo body, makes him an important workhorse for the squad which will target the Spring Classics.

    "When recruiting riders to protect our leaders it's a great advantage to have a guy as big as Jens that also knows how to hold and handle his bike on the tricky roads of the big cobblestoned classics," Bannan said in a media release.

    "A measure of how strong Jens is can be found in him having won the prologue at the Olympia's Tour and the Tour of Zeeland, along with taking fourth in the prologue at the Vuelta a Espana behind the likes of Fabian Cancellara a few years ago."

    The 31-year-old is winless so far in 2011, his best result his second placing at the Dutch National Championships in the individual time trial behind Stef Clement.

    Mouris, who joins GreenEdge from Vancansoleil where he has ridden since 2009, said that he "didn't hesitate" to join the Australian outfit, which is currently applying for a UCI ProTour licence.

    "I love Australia and the Australian mentality towards sports so when I got the chance to be part of that I didn't hesitate," he explained said.

    "I think I can benefit from the atmosphere and coaching in this team.

    "My main ambition is to do well for the team in the spring classics, grand tours and try to be in the team that rides the team time trial world championships. And maybe get a win myself."

    Mouris is the third Dutchman to join...

  • Evans, Schleck and Basso say altitude is biggest obstacle in Colorado

    Steve Johnson (L) CEO of USA Cycling addresses the audience as race executives, dignitaries and riders conduct a press conference on the eve of the 2011 USA Pro Cycling Challenge
    Article published:
    August 22, 2011, 6:52 BST
    Kirsten Frattini

    Peloton to ride over 12,000 feet of elevation

    Tour de France stars Cadel Evans (BMC Racing), Andy Schleck (Leopard Trek) and Ivan Basso (Liquigas-Cannondale) have cited the frequent visits to more than 12,000 feet of elevation as the biggest factor at the USA Pro Cycling Challenge held from August 22-28 in Colorado.

    Much of the stage race is held at elevations between 6000 and 9000 feet. However, ‘queen' stage two from Gunnison to Aspen will boast two of the highest and most decisive climbs in the race over Cottonwood and Independence Pass, both higher than 12,000 feet.

    Evans, who recently won the Tour de France, arrived to Utah last week in order to train and acclimate to the altitude prior to traveling to Colorado for the USA Pro Cycling Challenge. The Australian believes that the high-peaked ascents during the seven-day race will be a challenge for most of the European riders who might not be accustomed to such altitude.

    "The altitude, for me and most of us coming from Europe, will be the biggest obstacle," Evans said. "The climbs are reasonably hard but it is the altitude that will be the biggest obstacle for us."

    Schleck, who placed second at the Tour, arrived to Colorado two weeks ago in order to avoid jet-lag, acclimate and train at altitude, and see some popular sights.

    "I've been in the US since [August] 9th and spent a few days in Wisconsin and the rest in of...

  • Vande Velde analyses the USA Pro Cycling Challenge route

    Christian Vande Velde (Garmin-Cervelo) going hard on a descent.
    Article published:
    August 22, 2011, 9:30 BST
    Kirsten Frattini

    Garmin-Cervelo motivated to perform well in home state event

    Christian Vande Velde tipped his hat to the USA Pro Cycling Challenge prologue held in Colorado Springs on Monday. The American is confident that his Boulder-based Garmin-Cervelo team will put forth a strong performance in the opening day's 8.2km prologue time trial and carry that through the seven-day even held from August 22-28.

    "We checked out the course this morning," Vande Velde said. "It was a spectacular course and it will be really cool. We fly through the most beautiful parts in the country in Garden of the Gods, a spectacular left-hand corner into the Springs and right downtown. It will be fast and a great kick off for the Tour of Colorado."

    Tour de France winner Cadel Evans (BMC Racing) echoed Vande Velde's opinion with regard to the prologue course and believes it will be a high speed battle for the early race lead.

    "For the eight kilometres you just have to go fast like every other time trial," Evans said. "From a racing perspective it is a false flat downhill and will be a really high average speed and fast times, I think. It will be interesting."

    Garmin-Cervelo is fielding a quality team that also includes Tom Danielson, who placed ninth at the Tour de France, Peter Stetina, Ryder Hesjedal, Daniel Lloyd, Tom Peterson, Danny Summerhill and US National Time Trial Champion Dave Zabriskie.

    "We have been based out of Boulder, Colorado since day one with Jonathan Vaughters in 2003," Vande Velde said. "We have extra motivation when we are on US soil but...