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First Edition Cycling News, Monday, February 28, 2011

Date published:
February 28, 2011, 0:00 GMT
  • Gilbert admits to poor performance at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad

    a mud covered Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma-Lotto)
    Article published:
    February 27, 2011, 10:43 GMT
    Susan Westemeyer

    Omega Pharma-Lotto leader disappointed after first race in Belgium

    Philippe Gilbert won the Omloop Het Volk in 2006 and 2008, and hoped to add this year's Omloop Het Nieuwsblad to his palmares. But the Omega Pharma-Lotto captain finished a modest 43rd behind Sebastian Langeveld and admitted he “just wasn't good enough.”

    Gilbert went into the opening race of the Belgian season with high hopes after winning the first stage of the Tour of the Algarve and holding the leader's jersey for two stages. However his teammate Jurgen Roelandts was the team's highest finisher, having joined a late break group. 

    “With 100km to go I told Roelandts he should take his own chance,” Gilbert told Het Nieuwsblad.  “Once he was ahead, I didn't have to do anything else.”

    Gilbert had lost his last two helpers, Marcel Sieberg and Frederik Willems, before the finale.  “But even I soon realized I was not good enough,” he admitted.

    “The best riders were up front,” Gilbert said.  “Langeveld did it like I did in 2008: a 50km long attack.  When the wind at the end is favourable, that is the best formula.”

    Gilbert finished the race in the first large chase group, 5:05 down.  Roelandts was ninth, at 1:30.


  • Leipheimer confident that RadioShack can win a fourth Amgen Tour of California

    Will Levi Leipheimer keep his winning streak alive at the Solvang time trial in the 2011 Amgen Tour of California?
    Article published:
    February 27, 2011, 11:44 GMT
    Kirsten Frattini

    American looking forward to Mount Baldy mountain finish

    Levi Leipheimer’s (RadioShack) recent the third place at the Vuelta a Andalucia Ruta Ciclista Del Sol is an indication that he is on schedule to target a fourth win at the Amgen Tour of California held from May 15-22.

    The California resident believes that the RadioShack team that will be selected for the marquee event will be strong enough to fight for the golden leader’s jersey. “I think our team will be strong no matter what, and we will try our best to win,” said Leipheimer.

    RadioShack scored an early season victory in the Spanish stage race, with Markel Irizar Aranburu winning by a mere one second ahead of Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Omega Pharma-Lotto) and two seconds ahead of Leipheimer.

    Leipheimer is no stranger to the international podium having won the Deutschland Tour and the Criterium du Dauphine Libere along with podium places at both the Vuelta a Espana and the Tour de France. However, he ranks his three Amgen Tour of California victories as his biggest career achievements.

    “Dauphine has a lot of history and a richer history than the Tour of California,” Leipheimer said. “A lot of champions have won the Dauphine. To have been able to win that race might statistically ranks higher than the Tour of California. However, winning the Tour of California three times has defined me more than any other result than I have ever had.”

    Leipheimer is gearing up for arguably one of the toughest ever editions of the Amgen Tour of California. This year’s race has two mountain top finishes: on stage four up Sierra Road and on stage seven up the notorious Mount Baldy, a 26-mile ascent located on the outskirts of Los Angeles.


  • On the start line at Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne

    The start line at Kuurne
    Article published:
    February 27, 2011, 11:50 GMT
    Cycling News

    A photo gallery from the second race in Belgium

    The opening weekend of racing in Belgium continues today with the Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne race. Saturday’s Omloop Het Nieuwsblad was raced under pouring rain but it was dry and windy as the riders rolled out from the start for the 193km race around Western Flanders.

    The wind could play a key part in the race, sparking echelons and splits in the peloton and helping or hindering any breakaways. The race also climbs the Oude Kwaremont, Kruisberg, Kanarieberg and the Tiegemberg, making it a real semi-classic and a taste of what is to come in April.

    Last year Bobbie Traksel was a surprise but well deserved winner after being part of a three-rider attack that stayed away for most of the day. The move also included Rick Flens (Rabobank) and Ian Stannard (Team Sky), who finished second and third.

    There were tired faces at the start line in Kuurne as riders got ready for their second taste of racing in Flanders but there were also some fresh faces as some teams swapped riders in their rosters. Garmin-Cervelo has made several strategic changes, with sprinter Tyler Farrar replacing world champion as team leader. Will that give the American an advantage? We’ll find out later today.

    Cyclingnews has live coverage of the race here and there will be a full race report, photo galleries and rider interviews from the finish.

  • Farrar frustrated in Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne finish

    Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Cervelo) will lead the team at Kuurne
    Article published:
    February 27, 2011, 18:43 GMT
    Daniel Benson

    Mistake in sprint finale costs Garmin-Cervélo sprinter

    Bad luck and a crucial mistake in the finale of Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne cost Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Cervélo) a clean run at victory on Sunday. The 26-year-old sprinter was forced to settle for fourth place in a bunch sprint behind Chris Sutton (Sky), Yauheni Hutarovich (FDJ) and André Greipel (Omega Pharma-Lotto).

    "It was just a field sprint and Sky did a really good job of setting things up and CJ [Sutton] did a super sprint. I just made a mistake and I should have maybe gone on the other side but it's all maybes," Farrar told Cyclingnews at the finish.

    The American came into the race in strong form and, after skipping the previous day's Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, was a marked favourite. In fact, the first half of the race had gone perfectly for Farrar as he kept out of trouble and sat safely in the bunch.

    As the main group of favourites crested the Oude Kwaremont, Farrar was present and with four Garmin-Cervélo riders with him.

    "Everything was going perfectly and there were five of us in the front group going over the Kwaremont. I had the boys on the front because it felt like the right group and that if we could keep that away then it would be an easy group to manage."

    However, his luck drastically changed at the foot of the next climb, the Mont du Trieu, where he punctured.

    "I hit a hole and I flatted my back wheel so I took one from Daniel Lloyd and started chasing again. Travis Meyer waited for me and we were coming back and then my front wheel flatted so I had to take a wheel from him and had to chase again," Farrar said.

    "I felt good but I'd already had to waste so much energy...

  • Greipel disappointed with third in Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne

    André Greipel (Omega Pharma-Lotto)
    Article published:
    February 27, 2011, 19:26 GMT
    Brecht Decaluwé

    German lacked a good leadout in hectic finish

    The start of the season has been difficult for the Omega Pharma-Lotto team. The arrival of Philippe Gilbert in 2010 took away a lot of pressure on the other riders and with the arrival of sprinter André Greipel this year, the Belgian team hoped to get the wins flowing early on in the season. But for now things aren't quite working out that way.

    In the Tour Down Under Greipel came close to victory several times but always came up short. In the Volta ao Algarve in Portugal, Gilbert and Greipel both racked up wins but the team has been quiet elsewhere.

    During the opening weekend of racing in Belgium, the team disappointed again. Gilbert was unable to go with the other favourites on Saturday and he admitted that he simply wasn't good enough. Only lieutenant Jurgen Roelandts was up there in the finale but finished ninth.

    Gilbert quickly headed back to Monaco to prepare for the Spring Classics after Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, so the pressure was on Greipel to clinch the win on Sunday at Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne. The Belgian team worked very hard to set-up Greipel for the sprint but the German finished third behind Chris Sutton (Team Sky) and Yauheni Hutarovich (FDJ).

    His Omega Pharma-Lotto teammates seemed tired and out numbered in the finale as they tried to create the kind of lead out train that Greipel often enjoyed during his days at the HTC-Columbia team.

    “There was no lead-out,” Greipel told Cyclingnews immediately after the finish on Sunday.

    Marcel Sieberg tried to get his compatriot in a great position for the sprint but after the last left-hand corner at 800 metres from the finish line, he was spotted desperately searching for Greipel.

    “The team did a great job but I lost the wheel...

  • TIBCO-To the Top targets top NRC ranking

    Defending champ Meredith Miller on the line.
    Article published:
    February 27, 2011, 20:19 GMT
    Kirsten Frattini

    UCI women's team concludes training camp in California

    US-based UCI women's team TIBCO-To the Top opened the season with a 10-day training camp from February 17 to 25 on the shores of the Pacific Ocean in Carpinteria, California. The team's new manager and directeur sportif Lisa Hunt will lead a 14-women roster in a full National Racing Calendar (NRC) programme along with select events in Europe.

    "One of the primary goals of any team training camp is to get the girls together and get to know each other and their riding styles," Hunt said. "The terrain was wonderful with a mix of climbing and flats so it gives us a mix of great training options.

    "It is also to get the team to bond together and to understand what the team goals are. Secondly, to do some training, practice some drills, ride hard and to give them a little bit of competition. Thirdly, meeting some of the sponsors and learning about some of the products was really great for the girls to get an understanding of the bikes, wheels, trainers and all sorts of equipment."

    Hunt brings ample experience to the TIBCO-To the Top program having directed the Value Act Capital and Vera Bradley Foundation teams in previous years. The 2011 roster includes former NRC champion Alison Powers, former US National Road Champion Meredith Miller, Olympian Erinne Willock, UCI track world champion Tara Whitten along with Kendell Ryan, Carmen Small, Carlee Taylor, Jennifer Wheeler, Serena Sheridan, Joelle Numainville, Joanne Kiesanowski, Samantha Schneider, Megan Guarnier and Emma Mackie.

    "It was an opportunity for me and I was really excited about it because it is a good program and I have always been impressed by it," Hunt said. "Everyone bonded right away, the team is supportive and everyone is working together. It is really fantastic and I adore all the riders. I think working as a team we will be incredibly successful and we are going to win a lot of races and achieve our goals."

    The team will begin racing in a series of local California...

  • Vinokourov chases yellow jersey, second Liège - Bastogne - Liège in final season

    Alexander VInokourov considers a question at the Astana presentation
    Article published:
    February 28, 2011, 0:20 GMT
    Cycling News

    Kazakh lambasts Ricco for blowing second chance

    Alexander Vinokourov says that he is targeting wins in the Classics as a fitting way to end his somewhat controversial career.

    In an interview with L'Equipe, the 37-year-old said that last season with victories in the Liège - Bastogne - Liège and in the 13th stage of the Astana team captain said. "I had wanted to quit last year, but as I worked so hard to return, I told myself that I would still do one more year to get the icing on the cake."

    Astana announced 10 new signings for the 2011 season, with team leadership to be shared by Vinokourov and new recruit, Czech stage race specialist Roman Kreuziger. Vinokourov will hand over the reins to the former Liquigas rider for the Giro d'Italia to ensure recovery time between the Classics and the Tour de France.

    "The Classics, as usual; Amstel, Flèche, and Liège," the Kazakh told L'Equipe of his season goals. "Along with the whole team, we would like to win one of the three. That would be good. Then the Tour. Last year, I felt I still had the legs, not to win, but to race for a stage.

    "The ideal would be to wear the yellow jersey at last," Vinokourov admitted of his ultimate goal for the season.

    Vinokourov was banned for two years following his positive for blood doping at the 2007 Tour de France and has seemed genuinely thankful for his second chance. When it comes to the recent mis-fortunes of Riccardo Ricco however, the Kazakh is furious in his disbelief.

    "There are no words. It's a disaster for cycling. He returned after two years of suspension and began to regain his image in Italy, and...

  • Mosquera doping case still undecided

    Ezequiel Mosquera attended the presentation in hopes his doping case will be overturned
    Article published:
    February 28, 2011, 1:32 GMT
    Cycling News

    Spanish rider finds study to support defense argument

    Having recently dismissed Riccardo Riccó for allegedly performing a blood transfusion which left him hospitalised, it has emerged that Vacansoleil-DCM management may have to wait a long time before they know the outcome of Ezequiel Mosquera's doping case.

    Mosquera took second overall at the Vuelta a España but it emerged in late September that he had failed a doping test, with the offending agent hydroxyethyl starch (HES), a prohibited plasma expander. The case has taken another turn with the Spaniard citing the findings of a scientific study to prove that he didn't intentionally use the substance.

    According to Spanish daily El Pais, the study by a Spanish professor demonstrates how HES is in a large number of compounds commonly eaten, so the presence of it in a rider's urine does not necessarily mean it has been used to mask EPO use or a blood transfusion. Easily detectable, HES has been known to anti-doping authorities for over a decade.

    By increasing plasma volume, HES can hide increases in hematocrit, which is the most obvious sign of blood doping.

    Mosquera has not been sanctioned nor subjected to a disciplinary hearings - in fact, the Spanish Cycling Federation hasn't yet received the report from a Cologne laboratory which found the positive. In the meantime, Vacansoleil-DCM has kept Mosquera out of competition to appease the UCI, which has threatened to revoke its ProTeam licence.

    Mosquera's former Xacobeo Galicia teammate David García Dapena was suspended for two years after testing...