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First Edition Cycling News, Monday, December 21, 2009

Date published:
December 21, 2009, 0:00 GMT
  • Veloso breaks his collarbone

    Gustavo Cesar Veloso (Xacobeo Galicia)
    Article published:
    December 20, 2009, 22:37 GMT
    Cycling News

    Spanish rider to undergo surgery today

    Xacobeo Galicia rider Gustavo César Veloso broke his collarbone yesterday after a fall during a pre-season mountain bike training ride. He'll undergo surgery in Lugo, Spain, to treat the injury and begin rehabilitation later today.

    Veloso had ridden a cyclocross race the previous day and headed out on a mountain bike as a means of post-race recovery. Instead he's now nursing a broken clavicle which will slightly hinder his pre-season preparations.

    "I had planned a 'soft' session today, since yesterday [Saturday] I had trained in the morning and in the evening I attended the cyclocross race. I was out with a cyclist. We were quiet. I put the wheel in a creek and was thrown over the handlebars," said Veloso, who won stage nine of this year's Vuelta a España in Xorret del Catí.

    "I tend to be very cautious, but I couldn't help it. I think if I had gone a bit quicker the wheel would have come out of the doldrums, but as it slowly froze [I couldn't rectify it]," he explained.

    The fracture is the first of this kind he has experienced in 12 years of cycling and won't threaten his 2010 season. "I was training to start the season and looked sharp in cyclocross; without assuming any kind of risk every time [I rode] I was [getting] better. Now, after surgery, I will readjust my schedule," he explained.

  • Gilbert named Belgian's male athlete of the year

    Belgian Philippe Gilbert (Silence-Lotto)
    Article published:
    December 21, 2009, 8:47 GMT
    Susan Westemeyer

    Four cyclists in the top five, Gilbert to aim for Milano-Sanremo in 2010

    Already named Belgium's male cyclist of the year, Philippe Gilbert has now won the country's male athlete of the year award. He received the honour yesterday after winning an overwhelming majority of votes from Belgian sports journalists.

    The Silence-Lotto rider received 865 points, with cyclo-cross rider Niels Albert second with 377 points. Cyclists filled four of the top five positions, with Tom Boonen fourth and Sven Nys fifth. Third was basketball player Didier Mbenga of the Los Angeles Lakers.

    It was the third consecutive year that a cyclist has won the award. Albert took the title in 2008 and Boonen in 2007.

    "It is a great reward and an important recognition," said Gilbert, according to the Belga news agency.. "I thank everyone who voted for me, but especially all my teammates, who sometimes work for more than two hundred kilometres to bring me in a good position for the win, and they do it often without recognition.”

    Looking to the coming year, the 27-year-old added, “In 2010, I remain realistic. I know it difficult to improve, even just to do as good. It is difficult to further improve myself, but on the other hand, I have gained much experience. I would say that Milano-Sanremo is a goal for the coming season, but talking about it reduces my chances.”

    Gilbert has seven victories this season, including a stage at the Giro d'Italia and the overall title in the Ster Elektrotoer. He finished the year with a streak of wins, including Paris-Tours, Giro di Lombardia, Giro del Piemonte and the Coppa Sabatini.

  • Four Danes featured in Saxo Bank's early Tour squad

    Andy and Frank Schleck ride together alongside Saxo Bank teammate, Stuart O'Grady, on the Tour's final stage
    Article published:
    December 21, 2009, 9:01 GMT
    Susan Westemeyer

    Riis says squad “stronger” than in 2009

    Team Saxo Bank has already named its short list for the 2010 Tour de France, to be led by this year's Tour runner-up and best young rider Andy Schleck. The list features four Danish riders.

    Team manager Bjarne Riis called Danish riders Matti Breschel, Jacob Fuglsang, Nicki Sorensen and Chris Anker Sørensen “promising and positive. I can not guarantee that all four will come in, but there is a chance that they will. They are worthy candidates. They will all be able to ride on any Tour team, " he told the Danish broadcaster TV 2 Sport.

    Riis looks optimistically to the upcoming Tour team, saying, “I actually think that the squad will be stronger next year” than it was in 2009.

    The ten-man squad named was Andy Schleck, Fränk Schleck, Fabian Cancellara, Stuart O'Grady, Jens Voigt, Gustav Larsson, Matti Breschel, Jacob Fuglsang, Nicki Sorensen and Chris Anker Sørensen.

  • Cervélo's men and women report on training in Tenerife

    The riders get ready to go in Tenerife
    Article published:
    December 21, 2009, 10:32 GMT
    Susan Westemeyer

    Riders pleased with progress at Canary Islands camp

    A group of 15 Cervélo TestTeam riders has retuned to cold and snow of Europe after a week of training in more favourable conditions of Tenerife in the Canary Islands. The mixed group from the men's and women's have reflected positively on the opportunity to train on the road, in the gym and socialise with their teammates.

    “Back home it is 2 degrees celsius at the moment and the good roads here on the island are perfect for training,” British rider Daniel Lloyd noted. “At the moment I am really focused on the spring classics. Milano-Sanremo and the Tour of Flanders in particular are high on the agenda, and they’re not so far away.”

    Heading into her second year with the women's squad, Lieselot Decroix described the camp as, “a good opportunity to work together with my teammates. We've done some long ‘easy rides’, but it is never easy here on this island with all the climbs. We've also been doing work in the gym and on core stability.”

    Marcel Wyss of Switzerland said his second visit to the island had been a significantly different experience than his first. “The first time I came for a holiday, but now it is more serious because this part of the season is really important as preparation for the 2010 season. Because it's snowing in Switzerland at the moment, this has been the last opportunity for me to train on the road before the team training camp in Portuga, and I hope I can make some good progress.”

    Newcomer Theo Bos was happy not only to get away from the cold of his native Netherlands, but also to get to know his new colleagues. “It is also important to train together with your teammates in a good atmosphere. Hopefully we will see the results from a camp like this once the races start."

    The entire Cervélo TestTeam squad will come together for a training camp in the Algarve region of southern Portugal in mid-January, 2010.

  • Team-less Aurélien Clerc opts for new career

    Switzerland's Aurélien Clerc won green at Tour de Langkawi last year
    Article published:
    December 21, 2009, 12:24 GMT
    Peter Cossins

    Swiss rider calls time after nine years as professional

    Swiss rider Aurélien Clerc has decided to end his pro career having failed to secure a slot on a top-level squad. Following the end of his one-year deal with Ag2r-La Mondiale, the 30-year-old had been linked with a move to BMC Racing, but with no agreement reached Clerc has opted to take up a new career as an adviser at a Swiss assurance company.

    A professional for nine seasons, Clerc looked set to be one of the sport’s top sprinters when he burst onto the scene with Mapei-Quick Step in 2002. However, he failed to build on a rush of wins in smaller races during that season. After two subsequent years with Quick Step, he moved on to Phonak for two seasons, then spent another two with Bouygues Telecom. 

    Winner of 15 races, Clerc’s stand-out performance came in last year’s edition of Gent-Wevelgem, where he finished a close runner-up to Oscar Freire. This season he was set back by a series of crashes that effectively ended his year at the end of August.

  • Boonen talks about cobblestones and cocaine

    Tom Boonen (Quick Step) claims his third Paris-Roubaix title in April 2009
    Article published:
    December 21, 2009, 14:39 GMT
    Susan Westemeyer

    Belgian wants a fourth Paris-Roubaix crown, confesses to illegal drug use

    Tom Boonen has described the cobblestones of Paris-Roubaix as his “great love” and expressed his desire to claim a fourth title in the French Spring Classic next year. In an interview with Sporza Radio the Quick Step sprinter also confessed to his use of cocaine in the past, calling it “stupid and regrettable.”

    “I have had my most beautiful successes in Roubaix,” said Boonen. “It would be nice to win it next year for the fourth time; that would be utopia, I think.”

    Boonen claimed his third Paris-Roubaix in April this year, his second successive victory in the race. His first win came in 2005, three years after he had claimed a podium position as a 21-year-old neo-pro with US Postal Service. “It was immediately a great love with Paris-Roubaix and the cobblestones,” he said. “Roubaix is decisive: If you are not the best rider, you will lose."

    Although clear about his passion for the French event, Boonen described his home cobbled Classic, the Ronde van Vlaanderen, as a more complicated race. He has claimed the Flandrian event in 2005 and 2006, the earlier result coming a week before his first triumph at Paris-Roubaix.

    “The Ronde van Vlaanderen is nice, but difficult,” he said of the race. “In Vlaanderen, you need to take more factors into account.”

    The 29-year-old also admitted for the first time that he had used cocaine, a drug he has tested positive for in three occasions in his career. "I used cocaine. That was stupid and regrettable. I am not proud. But the last three years, I have not had a problem with it.

    “I still do not know what happened in April 2009; I'll probably never know,” he said. In April he tested positive for cocaine in an out-of-competition control which showed traces of the drug. He escaped sanction after further tests revealed that the positive had come as a result of indirect...

  • Lean Roche building towards new season

    Nicolas Roche (AG2R)
    Article published:
    December 21, 2009, 15:47 GMT
    Shane Stokes

    Irishman loses weight, wants bigger results in 2010

    Having recently finished an AG2R La Mondiale training camp in Tarragona in Spain, Nicolas Roche has returned to his home in Italy and is continuing to build towards the 2010 season.

    He rode strongly this year, particularly in his debut Tour de France in which he finished second, fourth, eighth, eighth and tenth on stages en route to 23rd place overall. Having placed 13th in the 2008 Vuelta a España, he knows he has potential in Grand Tours and so he has made efforts to become more lean.

    "Things have been going well," he said to Cyclingnews in recent days. "I am happy enough with the way I did my winter. I worked well. I did less kilometres than the other years, but I am also a good four kilos less than I was at this time last season. That compensates for the [lack of] training miles - I am happy enough with my condition."

    The 25-year-old rode aggressively in this year's Tour and wants to return to the event next July and try to take a stage win plus finish higher up in the general classification. His goal this winter has been to limit weight gain in the off-season and thus give him a strong chance of being lighter again in 2010.

    "I was hoping that one year I could do it, but I have been saying that every year," he admitted. "I was never able to get it down. But this year I really, really worked hard on my weight, not going crazy at the end of the season with food and drink.

    "I am now almost at my pre-Tour weight…I am more or less what I was when I came to the nationals this year, so I am pretty impressed with myself. Last year, I think it [being heavy] destroyed the start of my season. So I want to be careful and try to learn from my mistakes."

    2010 season mapped out

    The Irish road race champion has agreed on his likely race programme with AG2R La Mondiale. He will start in the Etoile de Bessèges on February 3, then do the Volta a Algarve and the Grand Prix...

  • Dietziker re-signs with Vorarlberg-Corratec

    Switzerland's Andreas Dietziker (Vorarlberg - Corratec)
    Article published:
    December 21, 2009, 15:55 GMT
    Susan Westemeyer

    Haselbacher's future with team to be decided soon

    Andreas Dietziker will ride for Team Vorarlberg-Corratec again in 2010, bringing the Austrian Professional Continental team up to 17 riders for the coming season. A decision as to whether René Haselbacher will remain with the team is expected soon.

    Dietziker, 27, will go into his third season with the team. “Last year I had a good spring and a good autumn. In 2010 I want to become more consistent and bring in good results over the whole season,” said the Swiss rider, who will concentrate on one-day races.

    Dietziker and fellow-Swiss teammates Hubert Schwab and Reto Hollenstien all missed the team-building session earlier this month, as the trio undertook their annual military service. However, as Dietziker explained, the riders were able to combine their patriotic and professional duties.

    “It's a pilot project of the Swiss federation, in which the cyclists are allowed to make their annual military service a training camp,” said Dietziker. “We profited from the perfect infrastructure there and worked on our base and stamina conditioning.”

    Although Dietziker has confirmed for the 2010 season, Austrian René Haselbacher is yet to be named on the team's roster for next year. Haselbacher, 32, joined the team last season after two years with Astana and nine years with Gerolsteiner. He came down with mononucleosis in September and had to end his season early. The team said in a statement today that a decision concerning the his future is expected soon.