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First Edition Cycling News, Monday, December 27, 2010

Date published:
December 27, 2010, 0:00 GMT
  • Scarponi to skip Ardennes and focus on Giro d'Italia

    Michele Scarponi (Androni Giocattoli) on the podium at the Giro.
    Article published:
    December 26, 2010, 10:00 GMT
    Barry Ryan

    Italian alters preparation for 2011

    Michele Scarponi (Lampre-ISD) will skip the Ardennes classics in order to focus his energies on the Giro d’Italia. The Italian finished 4th in the 2010 edition of the race and will lead Lampre’s general classification challenge next season.

    “The first part of 2011 is all built around the Giro, so there’ll be no Ardennes classics, even though they are races that stimulate me a lot and in which I’ve already shown I can do well,” Scarponi told Gazzetta dello Sport. “Liege-Bastogne-Liege is my kind of race but this year it’s better to sacrifice it.”

    In spite of his impressive 2010 Giro, where he took a stage victory at Aprica, Scarponi believes that there is still margin for improvement in his preparation this time around.

    “I got into form too early,” he admitted. “I was already going well in February-March. Even on a mental level, it cost energy. I began the Giro in too good a condition and in the last week, in spite of the stage win, I suffered.”

    Scarponi’s pre-Giro race programme will be tailored accordingly and he will debut at the Tour of Sardinia, before moving on to Tirreno-Adriatico, the Tour of the Basque Country and the Giro del Trentino to fine-tune his form.

    Damiano Cunego has led Lampre’s recent Giro d’Italia challenges but Scarponi insists that the duo’s roles are clearly defined in 2011. “At the Giro, I hope that he can give me a hand in the general classification and then take some personal satisfaction for himself,” Scarponi explained.


  • Morajko swaps Pegasus for CCC Polsat

    A top spot for a breather.
    Article published:
    December 26, 2010, 10:30 GMT
    Barry Ryan

    Polish champion finds team for 2011

    Jacek Morajko has signed for CCC Polsat for 2011. The Polish champion had initially agreed to join Pegasus Sports for next season but the Australian squad was unsuccessful in its bid to secure a UCI Professional Continental licence.

    “I’m very happy that at this difficult time for me, the CCC Polsat team reached out to me,” Morajko said, according to

    The 29-year-old Morajko rode for Mroz in 2010, winning the Polish road race title. He had previously spent much of his career riding for Portuguese teams. CCC Polsat manager Piotr Wadecki was delighted to welcome Morajko to his set-up.

    “When I found out about Pegasus’ problems, I thought of Jacek straight away,” Wadecki told "I couldn’t bear to think that the best Polish rider would be forced to ride in the third division.”

    Morajko’s erstwhile potential Pegasus teammates Robbie McEwen and Robbie Hunter have joined RadioShack for 2011, while Canadian time trial champion Svein Tuft has found a place on the SpiderTech team.

  • Contador registered to ride in Tour of Murcia

    Alberto Contador made an emotional plea of innocence during his press conference
    Article published:
    December 26, 2010, 11:13 GMT
    Susan Westemeyer

    Riis says team will be strong with or without Spaniard

    Alberto Contador is currently suspended while his doping case is pending before the Spanish cycling federation, but Team Saxo Bank-SunGard seems to believe he will be eligible to ride in the Spring. He has been listed to ride the Tour of Murcia in March.

    Meanwhile, team manager Bjarne Riis says that the team will be as strong as ever, even if Contador is unable to ride in the coming season.

    The race organizer, Club Murciano Organizador de Carreras Ciclistas, received the team registration from the Danish team, including Contador, Lucas Sebastian Haedo and Jesus Hernandez.

    Contador tested positive for Clenbuterol during the Tour de France. A decision on his suspension is expected sometime next month, with the ruling also expected to be appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport. Contador has denied doping and lays the blame on contaminated meat.

    The Tour of Murcia is scheduled for March 2-6 and will feature 12 or 13 teams. Movistar, Euskaltel-Euskadi, Rabobank, Saxo Bank-SunGard Vacansoleil, Geox-TMC, Caja Rural, Andalucia-Caja Granada, Skil-Shimano, UnitedHealthcare and a Russian national team are already confirmed to ride.

    Riis seemingly unconcerned

    Riis has lost his big stars of the past few years, with the Schleck brothers and Fabian Cancellara going to the new Luxembourg Pro Cycling Project, a gap he had hoped to fill with Contador. But now he faces a year with the possibility that Contador will not be eligible to ride.

    “Whether he is or not does not change how the team is structured. The principles are the same,” Riis told

    “It may well be that on paper we will not have strong names as before but we have a stronger crew than ever. And we'll provide results independent of Contador. I expect that some of those who get the opportunity now will step up to take advantage of that chance.

  • Arvesen turned down Luxembourg Pro Cycling Project role

    Kurt Alse Arvesen (Team Sky)
    Article published:
    December 26, 2010, 12:17 GMT
    Barry Ryan

    Norwegian to ride for Sky in 2011

    Kurt Asle Arvesen (Sky) has admitted that he turned down an offer to be a directeur sportif at the Luxembourg Pro Cycling Project in 2011 in order to honour his contract with Team Sky.

    “I got a great offer from Kim Andersen,” Arvesen told “But I am still under contract with Team Sky. I think there are simply too many people who do not respect signed contracts. I think that’s too bad. People should stand up for what they sign up to.”

    Arvesen signed a two-year deal to ride for Sky ahead of the 2010 season and he will continue with the British squad for at least one more year. He is particularly motivated to continue riding with his fellow Norwegian Edvald Boasson Hagen.

    “I do not want to burn any bridges and cause any enmity,” he said. “I do not like the slamming of doors. So I’m looking forward to next year, and the chance to ride with Edvald and Team Sky for another year. It looks awesome.”

    Arvesen refused to be drawn on whether 2011 would be his final season as a professional rider, but he admitted that he has reached a point in his career where every season is raced as though it were the last.

    “I’ll ride as though it’s my last year and I’m willing to do everything,” Arvesen said.

    Arvesen was also rumoured to have been given the option of joining Team Sky’s management team for 2011. When the time finally does come to hang up his wheels, the former Saxo Bank rider will not be short of offers.

    “I have strong relationships with several camps, so there are no easy choices,” he said. “I simply have not decided yet.”

  • Riis says many young riders are too spoiled

    Bjarne Riis finds himself changing strategy day by day, in line with the Team CSC's changing fortunes.
    Article published:
    December 26, 2010, 12:55 GMT
    Cycling News

    Youngster not willing to make the necessary sacrifices, Dane claims

    Having a strong will “is the greatest talent you can have,” according to Bjarne Riis, and it is exactly what is missing in so many young riders today, he said.

    "You can have just as much physical talent and talent on a bike, but unless you have the will, you cannot use it for anything,” he told Ekstra Bladet.

    “Today, we see many young people who are spoiled so rotten that they must be spoiled before they will be required to do something. Many young people want to have that before they do anything. And that is a serious mistake.”

    Riis compares that with his beginnings in cycling, living in old apartment in Luxembourg, eating spaghetti and ketchup, and training every day from four to seven hours. 

    I would have liked to live in a new apartment, but I couldn't afford it. I don't know whether this is due to childhood or upbringing, but for some it is hard to take the final step, take responsibility. Sometimes I wish that young people would do so.”

    Riis did not name names or seem to be referring to any rider in particular, but emphasized that young riders should take advantage of the experience of the veteran riders and of the resources which clubs or teams can provide.

    If I was a young guy today and knew I had a possible great future ahead of me, then I'd invest. I would get the right diet, make sure to find someone who can put a training program, settle myself in a place where there is someone who can ride the motorcycle to pace me. All the things that make you improve yourself optimally.”

    There is a cost for hard training, and many young riders seem unwilling to pay it, Riis noted. “They would rather have a cool car, a nice stereo or an expensive vacation, and I think that is unfortunate.” ...

  • McEwen returns to Jayco Bay Classic

    Robbie McEwen (Katusha) celebrates his victory at the Eneco Tour.
    Article published:
    December 27, 2010, 8:56 GMT
    Cycling News

    New team, new season begins for Australian sprinter in Geelong

    Six-time Jayco Bay Cycling Classic winner Robbie McEwen will return to the event when it begins in Geelong, Australia, on January 2.

    The late decision to line up in the race came after his planned spot as marquee rider on the Pegasus Sports squad fell through and he was thrown a career lifeline by Lance Armstrong's RadioShack team.

    Additionally, with a place in the team's lineup for the Tour Down Under made available and his usual plans to prepare for the season with club competition under threat due to inclement weather, McEwen needed to find some racing and decided that the Jayco Bay Cycling Classic would suit that purpose.

    "With the weather we have had up here in Queensland, I've been able to get out training but all our club races have been cancelled. It's not just raining every weekend, but every day," McEwen explained.

    "Those club races on a Sunday are an important part of my preparation coming into the season. I haven't been able to ride any at all, they've all been cancelled," he added.

    "The Aussie blokes that are here and are able to ride them have a big advantage over the Euro guys by having a few days of racing in your legs. They might only be an hour but they're super intense and they really kick start your form."

    In last year's Jayco Bay Classic, McEwen rode his first race in more than seven months after a forgettable 2009 season ended prematurely with a broken leg. He finished the series in fifth spot behind winner Chris Sutton, New Zealander Greg Henderson and arch rivals Graeme Brown and Baden Cooke, all of whom will return in 2011.

    His best placing in any stage was a third in the opening leg, something he hopes to improve on, but given he hasn't yet had one race, he feels he is giving some of the field a head start.

    "You have guys who did the five-day series in NSW; those guys have got the extra step in front of all the guys who haven't raced yet. Those guys will come in best at the...

  • Boonen to begin season in Qatar and Oman

    Tom Boonen models the new kit
    Article published:
    December 27, 2010, 9:53 GMT
    Susan Westemeyer

    Middle Eastern build-up to the Spring Classics

    For the eighth consecutive year, Tom Boonen will begin his season with the Tour of Qatar in early February. It will be his first race in a season that sees him trying to return to his best after suffering knee problems and surgery in 2010.

    The former World champion has ridden in Qatar every year since 2004. He has finished in every position from fourth on up, taking the overall title three times. He has also won 19 stages.

    “When something is good, you don't change it,” Quick Step sport director Wilfried Peeters told Het Laatste Nieuws. “This is the best preparation for Tom for the Belgian opening weekend.”

    “Tom is a familiar face in Qatar,” Peeters continued, and “must not miss” the tenth edition of the race, which runs February 6-11.

    Boonen will stay in the Middle East and take on the Tour of Oman (February 16-20), where he won a stage last year.

    Those two races will set the 30-year-old up for the first Belgian races, Omloop Het Nieuwsblad (February 26) and Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne (February 27). From there he will ride Tirreno-Adriatico (March 9-15) and Milano-SanRemo (March 19) before taking on the rest of the spring Flemish races and Paris-Roubaix.

    Boonen had a shortened season last year due to knee problems, which ended with surgery in July, causing him to miss the Tour de France. He returned to racing briefly in October.

  • Sørensen looks to top 2010 in new season

    Chris Anker Sørensen is hoping to deliver the win for CSC-Saxo Bank
    Article published:
    December 27, 2010, 10:44 GMT
    Cycling News

    Saxo Bank rider sees self moving up in team

    Chris Anker Sørensen (Team Saxo Bank) had only one win in 2010, but it was a big one: stage eight of the Giro d'Italia, the first mountaintop finish of the race. His goal for the coming season is simply “to win some more,” and is going into 2011 highly motivated.

    The solo win at Monte Terminillo, “meant that I can perform on the biggest stage, the Grand Tours. The Tour (de France) is obviously the greatest and then the Giro next,” he told “Being able to win a stage there, means that the hopes I have that I can be with the absolute top in the world are justified.”

    It was his only win of the season, and he hopes to improve on that in 2011. “I would obviously like to win some more. That is clear. I am not a rider who brings in major victories, but I would hope that next year I can win a little more than I usually do.

    He knows that he will have to work on his time trialing, as he hopes to become a GC candidate. “I will go for the GC at the big stage races, and I'll have to improve my time trial. There will be more training on my time trial bike, more targeted training on it. “

    At this point he is not sure what 2011 will bring. He has,  “moved up a little in the team hierarchy, because many established riders have left.” Sørensen will “try to focus on the Ardennes Classics. As for the Tour de France, one must be ready, because it's a big race. Whether I am helping Contador or whatever it is, we'll see what happens. I want to try riding for classification at the Vuelta.”

    At only 26, he is “suddenly one of the oldest on the team,” which means more pressure. “I think I am ready to go and I am looking forward to the coming season. “It is important mentally to get the pat on the back from Bjarne Riis and have him say 'I believe in...