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First Edition Cycling News, Monday, December 14, 2009

Date published:
December 14, 2009, 0:00 GMT
  • McCartney still makes the grade at RadioShack

    Jason McCartney is anticipating his ride with Team RadioShack next season.
    Article published:
    December 14, 2009, 1:23 GMT
    Bruce Hildenbrand

    American veteran looking forward to possible 2010 Tour ride

    After two seasons at CSC/Saxo Bank, Jason McCartney signed with Team Radio Shack for 2010, reuniting him with the personnel from the former Discovery Channel team which gave him his first European pro ride. His tenure at CSC/Saxo Bank was highlighted by King of the Mountains jerseys at both the Tour of California and Tour of Georgia.

    McCartney, known affectionately as 'JMac', explained the reason for the changing focus within the Saxo Bank and his subsequent move to RadioShack. "They [Saxo Bank] had a US sponsor at first, now they have a mainly Danish sponsor. They have a lot of great young Danish talents coming up; Matty Breschel, Chris [Anker] Sorenson so their focus has shifted to their homeland."

    When asked about which cog he will be within the Radio Shack machine, it's clear McCartney's comfortable with his role is a team player. "They know me, I know them. They know where I fit in and what I am good at," he said "If I get an opportunity in a stage race, I can take it. But, mainly I am here to kick some ass and help Levi or Lance or whomever in the big stage races.

    "I am good at climbing. I can ride on the front all day. I can time trial. I think I am an 'all arounder' who is going to fit in perfectly. That's kind of where I was on Discovery."

    Despite having ridden the Giro d'Italia and the Vuelta a España, McCartney has yet to ride the Tour de France. One of his goals is to ride the Tour in 2010. " I've been on all these big teams. Discovery Channel was arguably one of the best teams in the world and Saxo Bank was one of the best teams in the world so it it always tough to make the Tour team. I think now I have a lot more experience and I am just a lot more confident in myself. For me, that's a goal," said McCartney.

    What does 'JMac' need to do to get a ticket to the Tour? "I need to show consistency. That I am strong. That I am motivated. I think I fit in... With Tour teams or any team it is all about fitting...

  • Rabobank riders bond on the high seas

    The Rabobank team on the North Sea during a pre-season training camp.
    Article published:
    December 14, 2009, 8:01 GMT
    Susan Westemeyer

    Niermann fights boredom, over-eating and lack of physical activity

    While Saxo Bank climbed the mountains on Fuertaventura at their team training camp, Rabobank took a different approach when they sent their riders on a ship to explore the waters around the North Sea.

    However despite the novel idea the main activities the riders had to endure were boredom, overeating and a lack of exercise.

    "If we’d had a hurricane it might have been an exciting adventure, but unfortunately we had so little wind that we had to turn the motors on in order to move at all," said veteran rider Grischa Niermann.

    "Other than that we had the difficult task of cooking for our masseurs and mechanics and trying to kill time the rest of the day," the German continued. "The result: In three days I gained what feels like two kilos and by my first training ride at home I had cramps because I had barely moved in so long."

    Going into the team adventure, Niermann had expected something entirely different. The riders had only been told that their "activity" would start at 11 am on a Wednesday and stop at noon Friday. "Sounds a little like a two-day march through mud, without sleeping, eating or any other luxuries," he had written in anticipation.

    "I hope that our team outing next year will be a bit more spectacular," the 34-year-old concluded.


  • Riccò eyeing San Remo and redemption

    Can Riccò win back the fans he let down?
    Article published:
    December 14, 2009, 8:21 GMT
    Daniel Friebe, Procycling

    The Cobra is back but is he sorry?

    The enfant terrible of Italian cycling, Riccardo Riccò, has urged fans to reserve their judgment ahead of his return to racing in March next year. Riccò, who hopes that a wildcard invitation for his Ceramica Flamina team will allow him to make his comeback at Milan-San Remo on March 20, told Procycling Magazine that he "deserves a second chance" after his positive test for CERA at the 2008 Tour de France.

    In the interview, to appear in Procycling’s forthcoming February Issue (on sale in January), Riccò admitted that he is still haunted by flashbacks of his dramatic exit from that Tour. The self-styled "Cobra" also claimed the memory is the best possible incentive not to dope again.

    "There’s maybe a difference between just getting a piece of paper telling you that you’ve tested positive and being kicked out of the Tour de France and thrown in a prison cell," Riccò said in the interview, which took place at the end of November in Serramazzoni, central Italy, where he spends much of the year. "It really shocks you. And humiliates you. At first you can barely look people in the eye. You gradually inch back towards normal life, but it’s horrible at first."

    In Riccò’s case "normal" life meant the routine of the racing cyclist. Having spent several months struggling to come to terms with his new reality, and a further period when his main occupation was teaching spinning classes in his local gym, he has now been in full-time training for almost a year. Taking inspiration from Ivan Basso, just as the Liquigas rider did during his doping ban, Riccò has even gone as far as simulating stage races behind a scooter or car in his bid to regain race fitness.

    Riccò now says that he’s "confident" of...

  • Armstrong to retire after 2011 season

    Lance Armstrong at his first official RadioShack press conference in Arizona on Tuesday. He said the team will share leadership in 2010.
    Article published:
    December 14, 2009, 9:11 GMT
    Cycling News

    Supports the idea of a US start to Giro, but says it would be hard on riders

    Lance Armstrong hinted that he will quit the sport for a second and final time after the 2011 season. Speaking at the RadioShack team camp, the seven-time Tour de France winner, asked about a potential USA start to the 2012 Giro d'Italia, indicated that it would be unlikely that he would still be racing when and if that happened.

    Giro organizer Angelo Zomegnan met with the Washington, DC mayor last week about bringing the race to US shores in 2012. When asked if he might still be racing at that point, Armstrong replied, "Maybe ... well, maybe not," and laughed.

    More seriously, Armstrong said having the historic race in America would be a good idea, but flying across six time zones would be hard on the racers.

    "I would support it because I'm not going to be there flying back and forth - for the tifosi in America it would be a good thing.

    "I think it's a good idea - but I'm not sure the riders would think it's a good idea. That's an incredible thing to ask, to fly 6 hours time difference, do a couple days and then fly back."

    Another race Armstrong was asked about was the World Championships in Melbourne, Australia on October 2, 2010. Having won the title in 1993, Armstrong said it would be unlikely he would seek another rainbow jersey next year.

    "The worlds are an interesting idea. Sitting here in December, it's easy to say yes, then you get through the Tour and you realize you have two more months and you have to go to Australia where the course isn't necessarily suited for you... to go to Melbourne would be super cool, but I have to guess I wouldn't be there.

    "Back in the old days, it used to be a month after the Tour. When they moved it back to October I think it changed its importance on the international calendar."

    The RadioShack team camp in Tucson, Arizona was the first opportunity for Armstrong to meet his new team, although there were many familiar faces on...

  • Cromwell has options if Skyter can’t be replaced

    Tiffany Cromwell (Australia) now leads the best young rider competition.
    Article published:
    December 14, 2009, 11:22 GMT
    Greg Johnson

    Wednesday is D-day for German squad

    Australia’s Tiffany Cromwell is standing by her 2010 squad, the former Equipe Nürnberger Versicherung outfit, and hopes it will be able to find a sponsor by Wednesday’s International Cycling Union (UCI) deadline. The team has been given a reprieve by the UCI, with the sport’s governing body giving it until Wednesday to secure the funds to ensure its continuation following the shock withdrawal of would-be title sponsor Skyter.

    "Obviously it’s a major shock, it wasn’t what I was expecting to wake up to, but they’re doing everything they can, pooling all resources – German sponsors, European sponsors, international sponsors, anything they can get," said Cromwell. "We had to get an extension from the UCI for registration of the team and they’ve been given until Wednesday, so Wednesday is D-day for the team."

    Skyter had signed to replace Nürnberger Versicherung next season after the insurance company announced earlier this year it would cease its sponsorship after a 10 year relationship. Cromwell said the team’s management was keeping the riders informed of its progress.

    "We’re getting continual updates, so fingers crossed something will pop up," she said.

    With heavy-hitting riders like British Olympic Champion Nicole Cooke, former World time trial Champion Amber Neben and Trixi Worrack on the team, Cromwell said management has even asked the riders for any contacts who might be able to save the squad through a sponsorship deal.

    "We’re all being optimistic and they’re doing everything they can, even getting an idea if any of us girls have contacts, some of the high-profile girls like Nicole," she said. "We’ll see."

    While Cromwell admitted she’s started exploring backup options for 2010 in case the team was forced to close, she stressed that she still hopes the squad will find a sponsor in time to continue as planned. The deal...

  • Summerhill breaks bad luck streak to win Under 23 American 'cross title

    Race winner Danny Summerhill (Garmin) leads the next time around and for the rest of the race
    Article published:
    December 14, 2009, 13:58 GMT
    Kirsten Frattini

    James captures her first national title in women's Under 23 race

    Danny Summerhill (Garmin-Felt) and Ashley James won their respective events in the Under 23 US Cyclo-Cross National Championships held in Bend, Oregon, on Sunday.

    Ashley James triumphed in her first stars and stripes jersey with her win of the Under 23 women's national title. She placed 29th in the elite women's race won by UCI World Cup leader Katie Compton (Planet Bike).

    Summerhill won his first Under 23 title which comes somewhat as a surprise after he captured a silver medal at the 2007 Junior Cyclo-Cross World Championships. Summerhill admitted that a series of bad luck and illness kept him from winning the national title in the past.

    "The Under 23 title has eluded me up until now," Summerhill said. "Every year there was a big reason why I didn't win it. First year, I dropped my chain when [Bjorn] Selander won. Next, last year, I came down with the flu and raced with a temperature of 101 [degrees Fahrenheit]. I'm glad the unlucky streak is gone."

    Summerhill was grateful to win the Under 23 title in front of a cheering corner of friends and family who came to support him in the Old Mill District of Bend.

    "I did get a lot of support and congrats from people," Summerhill said. "I was happy and satisfied to finally accomplish this. I was pleased that it was finally done because it was something that had eluded me for so long. [I put] an end to the haunting of bad luck at the other races. I was pleased after the race that my family and friends were there."

    Summerhill will turn his attention to the International Cycling Union (UCI) Under 23 Cyclo-Cross World Championships held in Tabor, Czech Republic, in January. He is scheduled to depart on December 16 to Belgium where he will participate in the annual Geoff Proctor's Euro 'Cross Camp leading up to the grand finale.

    "I'm pretty sure I'll be on the worlds' team with some really good guys like Jerome Townsend and [Zach] McDonald," Summerhill said. "I've...

  • Vuelta a Andalucia to include time trial in Gibraltar

    The peloton at the 2009 Vuelta a Andalucia.
    Article published:
    December 14, 2009, 15:28 GMT
    Susan Westemeyer

    First-time inclusion an "historic" occasion

    The Vuelta a Andalucia will run a stage entirely in Gibraltar, on the southern tip of Spain, in 2010 for the first time ever. Gibraltar will host a time trial of approximately five kilometres as the race's fourth stage in February. Race CEO Joaquin Cuevas called it an "historic" event.

    The Vuelta will run February 21-25, starting in Jaén and ending Antequera. While the start and finish cities for each stage have been announced, the exact route has not yet been made public.

    The winner is expected to be decided on the first stage, which ends with a mountaintop finish at the hors categorie Alto de la Guardia de Jaén.

    Gibraltar is a self-governing British territory on the Mediterranean. Political relations between Gibraltar and Spain have been rocky over the years.

    2010 Vuelta a Andalucia
    February 21 - Stage one: Jaén – Alto de la Guardia de Jaén
    February 22 - Stage two: Otura – Cordoba
    February 23 - Stage three: Marbella – Benahavis
    February 24 - Stage four: Gibraltar – Gibraltar (ITT)
    February 25 - Stage five: Torrox Costa - Antequera

  • RadioShack's Chris Horner not slowing down

    Chris Horner and Lance Armstrong ride alongside one another.
    Article published:
    December 14, 2009, 16:16 GMT
    Laura Weislo

    38-year-old plans to keep racing as long as it's fun

    At 38 years of age, Chris Horner is one of the "senior" members of the new RadioShack team, but is by no means slowing down. In fact, he's had some of his best performances of his career this year even though his season was plagued with injuries.

    It's surprising, even to Horner himself, that he has found probably the most ideal team and fitness that only gets better now that he's at the twilight of his cycling career.

    Yet even though he's happy to be back on an American team and racing side-by-side with Lance Armstrong, he would have given all of that up for a chance to ride the Tour de France this year.

    After being left off the Astana team roster by manager Johan Bruyneel, Horner asked for a release from his contract so he could look for another team which would put him in the Tour.

    "I didn't get it, I didn't think I was getting it either," Horner said in a matter-of-fact way. "I'm glad to be here [with RadioShack], but if I had a team which would have picked me up and put me in the Tour, I would have left that day."

    Horner's goal for this year and for every season is to race the top events Europe has to offer, and being left out of the Tour team so that Astana could please its sponsors with a Kazakh rider was a big blow.

    "I go to Europe so I can race - if it would have been Garmin or if I could have talked to Cadel [Evans] and gotten on Lotto, I would have left that day. There's no doubt about it."

    At the end of the season, Horner was approached by Alexander Vinokourov about staying with Astana, but Horner said it would have had to have been a "really good offer" to get him to stay with the team. After a season of troubles getting a steady paycheck, RadioShack was a sure bet.

    "I really like Vino, he's a nice guy. He runs the team well - he's really easy to get along with. But if they called and gave me an offer, if it was even remotely close, you know I'd stay with Johan - there's no other team...