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First Edition Cycling News, Monday, December 12, 2011

Date published:
December 12, 2011, 0:00 GMT
  • Weening: GreenEdge's climbing stocks may surprise

    Pieter Weening (Rabobank).
    Article published:
    December 11, 2011, 10:08 GMT
    Jane Aubrey

    Dutchman hopes to take on mentoring role for the likes of Bobridge

    Casting an eye over the GreenEdge roster, Pieter Weening's name is like a beacon at sea – a climber surrounded by men built for speed.

    Aged 30, Weening made the giant leap from Dutch powerhouse Rabobank where he'd ridden since an espoir and now stands as arguably the most experienced international recruit for the WorldTour debutants.

    "Rabobank is a good team, everything was always well organised and stuff like that but it was the moment to look for something else, something different, for a new motivation," Weening told Cyclingnews in Melbourne. "This is a new team so it all starts from the ground zero. You know everyone is well motivated and that's the main reason I chose GreenEdge."

    Admitting to feeling stale after 11 seasons with Rabobank, if there was a hiccup in Weening's long-running relationship with the team, it came in the lead-up to the 2010 Tour de France when he didn't make the cut for the nine-man selection, leaving the Harkema-native "angry" and perplexed over management's decision. He now seems philosophical over the chain of events and denies it planted the seed of thought to move on.

    "I always worked very well with Rabobank and sometimes some riders are disappointed because you have enough riders, it just so happened that I fell out of the nine riders for the Tour," he said. "Of course everybody wants to be in the Tour but I also understand that it's not possible to do every year."

    The team with the 'Australian DNA' has come under scrutiny throughout the process of unveiling their roster ahead of their inaugural season, especially from local media scraping for the next Cadel Evans, the next bona fide Grand Tour winner. Where were the genuine general classification contenders for GreenEdge? The team's general manager, Shayne Bannan has remained...

  • Gilmore ready to race after recovering from horror crash injuries

    Adjustments to the gold leader's jersey for stage winner and now race leader, Rochelle Gilmore (Lotto Honda)
    Article published:
    December 11, 2011, 10:54 GMT
    Cycling News

    Australian broke pelvis, back, ribs in women's Giro d'Italia

    Rochelle Gilmore is ready to race the Jayco Bay Classic on New Year's Day, a goal which last summer might have seemed impossible for the Australian. But the 29-year-old has fought her way back from serious injuries in a crash at the women's Giro d'Italia, which saw her learning to walk again.

    Gilmore was among those going for the final sprint in the fifth stage, when she was involved in a mass crash, hitting the pavement hard with her right hip. “I got right up and rode across the finish line and sat down after the race,” she told the Sydney Morning Herald. A few minutes later, “I stood up to walk to the car, which was two or three steps away, and I couldn't.”

    She was told that x-rays were negative and that she may have broken some ribs. But about a week later, things were getting worse and she returned to the hospital. There it was finally determined that she had multiple fractures of the pelvis, a small fracture in her spine, and indeed, three broken ribs.

    Gilmore was told it would be six months before she could walk again, but only 20 days after the diagnosis, she was up on crutches.  Miraculously, she was able to race again as early as September, and even rode in the World Championships.

    Her first goal for 2012 the Jayco Bay Classic starting January 1, with the Dream Team. “We've won it the last three years and to be honest, if we don't win this year, we'll be really disappointed.”

    Her main goal of the year, though, is the London Olympics.  Surprisingly, it would be her first time. “As far as the...

  • Lund still looking for first pro win

    Anders Lund was the engine on the Leopard Trek train.
    Article published:
    December 11, 2011, 12:29 GMT
    Cycling News

    Hopes to ride Giro d'Italia on return to Saxo Bank

    Anders Lund's goal for 2012 is quite simple:  “I certainly would like to win my first race in the upcoming season.” Lund, who will ride for Saxo Bank next year, will look to the Giro d'Italia, starting in his homeland of Denmark, as a good possibility.

    Lund, 26, told “The desire is there and it is certainly also in me. So although there will be many tasks during the season, it will also be a focus for me. So I simply must find my chance during the season and I will be ready to exploit it.”

    He still does not know whether the Giro will be on his race calendar. “It would be really great to ride the Giro at home, but I do not yet know my program.”

    The Dane had previously ridden with Saxo Bank from 2008 to 2010, before joining Leopard Trek last year. “I have come back to the team and now should just find my place. So I'm waiting to see how the managers deal with me and I must exploit the opportunities I am offered.”

    It would be his fourth time at the Giro, having ridden it for Saxo Bank all three years that he was with the team. “To ride a grand tour has previously proved rewarding for me, and especially riding the Giro could give me a good base for the rest of the season.”

  • Kruopis an imminent danger man within GreenEdge sprint ranks

    Lithuanian sprint hope, Aidis Kruopis
    Article published:
    December 11, 2011, 17:24 GMT
    Jane Aubrey

    Lithuanian set to break out of the shadows of Bagdonas and Navardauskas

    GreenEdge may have its fair share of sprinters heading into their debut season, but if there's one flying under the radar, it's Lithuanian Aidis Kruopis.

    Shy and unassuming, the 25-year-old is not yet as well known as his compatriots Gediminas Bagdonas (An Post – Sean Kelly) and Ramunas Navardauskas (Garmin-Cervelo) but in joining GreenEdge and working under the tutelage of long-time idol Robbie McEwen, Kruopis is hoping to make his own mark in 2012.

    It's Kruopis' first trip to Australia, and having spent a little over a week with his new team in Canberra, where the squad was based for bio-mechanical testing and the odd long training ride to Thredbo in the Australian Alps, he traveled to Melbourne for the team's official presentation where he spoke with Cyclingnews. The sun is out, and just down the road, there's some carollers entertaining some kids lining up to have their photo taken with Santa Claus. It's an atmosphere that appears to leave Kruopis in a near state of flux.

    "It will soon be Christmas so I'd prefer it to be snowing," he said. "It's nice, it's a different culture and also the weather."

    Kruopis will begin his season with the Tour of Qatar and the Tour of Oman, a sprinter's paradise.

    "I've wanted to go there for a long time so it's a dream come true," he told Cyclingnews. It seems a long way from his breakthrough in 2009 when, unsigned, he took his first professional victory in Izegem in West Flanders besting a field of 268 riders. Up until then, Kruopis had followed the same path as that...

  • Ulissi aims to push on in 2012

    Diego Ulissi (Lampre-ISD) took the biggest win of his career on stage 17 of the Giro
    Article published:
    December 11, 2011, 18:39 GMT
    Cycling News

    Italian dreaming of Worlds selection

    Diego Ulissi (Lampre-ISD) is aiming to continue his progress next season after a successful 2011 that saw the young Italian talent take a stage victory in his debut Giro d’Italia.

    “I’m asking for another step forward from myself,” Ulissi told Gazzetta dello Sport. “I know that people expect a lot. But I must continue with calm, without disappointing and without overdoing it.”

    A double junior world champion, much was expected of Ulissi when he turned professional with Lampre at the beginning of the 2010 season, but he recognised that it was an opportunity to learn.

    “The first year as a professional was like being in school,” he said. “I reset everything I’d done in the underage categories and put myself at the disposition of the leaders. I covered and I helped, and all the while I looked to learn some of the secrets of the masters. Not only from Scarponi and Cunego, but also from Mori, Righi and Spezialetti, all people who live in the peloton.”

    Ulissi’s second campaign in the peloton was “like university,” he continued. “I raised the standard of the quality of my races and adversaries.”

    Most famously, Ulissi took Giro stage victory in Tirano after Giovanni Visconti was disqualified for impeding him in the final sprint, but the Tuscan had already been encouraged by a strong showing on the final day of Paris-Nice, when he finished second behind Thomas Voeckler.

    “I was in a two-man break with Voeckler, the wrong person at the right time. Or maybe the right person at the wrong time,” he said. Overall victory in the Tour of Slovenia in June was further confirmation that the 22-year-old had adapted to...

  • Video: Schlecks on time trialling, BMC and the Worlds

    Andy Schleck is looking for a big year with his new team.
    Article published:
    December 11, 2011, 20:16 GMT
    Cycling News

    Valkenburg course suited to brothers' talents

    In spite of the high-profile reinforcements made by both teams ahead of the 2012 season, Andy Schleck does not believe that there will be any particular rivalry between his RadioShack-Nissan squad and the star-studded BMC team of Cadel Evans.

    Philippe Gilbert, Thor Hushovd, Marco Pinotti and Tejay Van Garderen were among the BMC signings during the off-season, while the merger of Leopard Trek and RadioShack means that Johan Bruyneel has an embarrassment of riches at his disposal next year.

    However, Schleck pointed out that a similar rivalry between Leopard Trek and Saxo Bank was hyped in the media last year, but in reality riders think only about winning, rather than beating any particular rivals.

    “We go out there and we don’t want a match against other teams. We got asked last year a lot – ‘Do you want to beat Saxo Bank?’ No. We go there to win the race, I don’t care who’s second, if it’s one from BMC or from FDJ,” Schleck told reporters in Calpe, Spain.

    While the Tour de France is the centrepiece of the Schleck brothers’ campaign, Fränk said that the world championships in Valkenburg would be their primary goal at the back end of the season. As a former winner of the Amstel Gold Race (2006), Fränk Schleck knows he has the aptitude for the Dutch course.

    “I think that’s going to be a nice course for us,” he said. “It’s going to be very hard, but it’s more or less the course from Amstel, so especially with 260, 270km, that’s going to be really good for us. It’s going to be a real classic. Both of us would like to focus on Ardennes and keep some energy maybe for the last part of the...

  • PureBlack Racing folds leaving riders searching for opportunties

    Tim Gudsell (Pure Black Racing) wins Stage 6 into Gore
    Article published:
    December 12, 2011, 4:12 GMT
    Jane Aubrey

    Gudsell credits Kiwi team for developing young road talent

    With New Zealand cycling at an all-time high, it wasn't beyond the realm of possibility that PureBlack Racing could indeed make it to the UCI ProTour and the Tour de France in 2015. That dream was shattered overnight with the news that the continental team does not have the funding to continue heading into the 2012 season.

    The team informed riders and staff early on Saturday morning that the team would not be continuing in 2012.

    PureBlack Racing rider and team manager Tim Gudsell told Cyclingnews he is "gutted" by the news, a decade into his professional career. The 27-year-old admitted he had switched off from the cycling world for the last few weeks having got married and then gone on his honeymoon, following his final race of the season The Tour of Southland. Unaware the team was facing any difficulty until he was informed at the weekend the team was closing shop, the news has come as a shock.

    "So far I haven't had any real positive leads," he explained. "I don't feel ready to throw in the towel just yet. I really enjoyed racing my bike with the team. The team had success and we had a lot of success individually – at the end of the day that's why we do it, we love to win bike races. Hopefully there'll be a spot out there for me to continue doing that."

    Gudsell revealed that he didn't believe any riders would be left out of pocket from the 2011 season saying that there was "nothing malicious" in the announcement and that it had simply come down to a lack of financial support.

    "Tough economic conditions combined with the impact of the Rugby World Cup and the Christchurch disaster have made it a really tough year to raise funding for emerging sports like cycling and international programmes like PureBlack Racing," said Greg Cross, Business Director of PureBlack Racing in a statement released by BikeNZ.

    "We have proven we...

  • GreenEdge versus GreenEdge at Jayco Bay Cycle Classic

    Matt Goss and Robbie McEwen talk tactics at the launch of the 2012 Jayco Bay Cycle Classic
    Article published:
    December 12, 2011, 6:02 GMT
    Cycling News

    New team’s fast men go head-to-head from New Year’s Day

    Fledgling UCI ProTour outfit GreenEdge will make their racing debut on January 1 at the Jayco Bay Cycle Classic with a twist to their inclusion with nine riders set to be split between two teams sure to add to the always exciting criterium series in Geelong.

    The first will race as GreenEdge and will be led by defending champion, Matt Goss who narrowly took victory over Rabobank's Michael Matthews in 2011. Goss will be joined by tried and tested lead out man and former HTC-Highroad teammate Leigh Howard, six-time winner of the series Robbie McEwen, Wes Sulzberger and Mitch Docker.

    "It's definitely going to be an honour to be in the first team and one of the first riders to pull on the GreenEdge jersey and create history when we go and race for the first time," Goss said at the race launch in Melbourne today.

    "The team definitely wanted me to do it, and I definitely like to do it. You can really get a sense of where you are at and get a good gauge when you're racing all the best sprinters. Everyone who is going to be competitive at the Tour Down Under is competitive at the Bay Crits."

    Meantime, a second squad of GreenEdge men will line up under the Mitchelton Wineries – Lowe Farms banner.

    Led by 2004 Jayco Bay Cycling Classic and 2003 Tour de France green jersey winner Baden Cooke, the Mitchelton Wineries – Lowe Farm's team will turn to 2010 Commonwealth Games champion Allan Davis to match the speed of Goss and 2011 U23 time trial champion Luke Durbridge to challenge the grunt of the experienced McEwen.

    World team pursuit champion Michael Hepburn will be at home at the world's fastest criterium series whilst 20-year-old Jayco-AIS rider Patrick Lane will complete the five-man team.

    Race director John Trevorrow predicts the healthy rivalry...