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First Edition Cycling News, Monday, February 8, 2010

Date published:
February 08, 2010, 0:00 GMT
  • Cervélo TestTeam penalised for pushing in Qatar TTT

    Cervélo set off in the Qatar opener. They would be penalised for pushing during the stage
    Article published:
    February 07, 2010, 14:45 GMT
    By:
    Stephen Farrand

    Haussler judged to have pushed teammate, race jury hands team one-minute penalty

    Cervélo TestTeam set the second fastest time in the opening team time trial at the Tour of Qatar but just hours later the entire squad were penalised one-minute for pushing.

    The decision by the race jury meant Cervélo officially finished last on the stage, 1:08 behind winners Team Sky and now has very little chance of overall success in the race.

    Cervélo opted to ride a double line formation in the team time trial to help then fight the strong winds but it cost them dearly.

    The judge following the team, Jinshan Zhao of China, said that mid-way round the 8.2 kilometre course, Heinrich Haussler pushed Gabriel Rasch after taking a turn on the front. Chief judge Enrique Gonzalez Martinez agreed and, in spite of the short distance of the stage, enforced the International Cycling Union (UCI) rule which prescribes a one-minute penalty for pushing.

    Haussler and Rasch were also fined 200 Swiss Francs and the team's riders dropped from top-ten overall to positions now outside the top-100 in the overall standings.

    Directeur sportif Jens Zemke, Heinrich Haussler and Gabriel Rasch made a desperate plea to the judges to overturn their decision but the judges refused.

    "I touched Rasch but I didn't push him. He didn't gain any advantage," Haussler said, dismayed about the decision.

    "I'd just done a turn on the front and was moving back, when the wind blew us together, I put my hand out to avoid crashing. It's a crazy decision but the commissares are the boss of the race."

    Zemke initially suggested that the Cervélo Test Team might pull out of the race. However, he eventually accepted the penalty.

    "It's a very hard decision. Heinrich pushed him for safety reasons, not to get an advantage, but to avoid a crash. Next time maybe they have to crash…" he said.

    "We were really happy with second place it was a big success for us to beat teams like Garmin. Now our motivation...

  • Wiggins celebrates on debut with Team Sky

    Bradley Wiggins answers questions
    Article published:
    February 07, 2010, 16:32 GMT
    By:
    Stephen Farrand

    Briton reveals attention to detail as the secret of success

    As Team Sky celebrated winning the Tour of Qatar team time trial and posed for photographs on the podium, Bradley Wiggins was especially happy to have won with the new team and let out an ironic shout of "Sky Rules!"

    Someone in the crowd replied with "Sky's the limit" and every one of the riders laughed as they savoured their third success of the season following two wins in Australia.

    The Tour of Qatar marked Wiggins' debut in Team Sky colours. Wearing the all-white British national time trial champion's skinsuit, he stood out from the other riders in black Team Sky kit and played a big part in bringing the team home and inspiring his younger teammates.

    Wiggins has tasted success with the British Cycling team on the track. Now that same mentality and attention to detail has been applied to a professional squad, and Team Sky showed how vital it can be in technically difficult events like team time trials.

    "This was our objective, we came here to win this. Anything but a win would have been really disappointing," Wiggins said after the team's fast ride.

    "That's what this team is about. We specialise in putting game plans together for an event that is so controllable in so many ways. The Tour Down Under was a fantastic start and now this is where the big boys come out to play."

    "We really analysed the wind in the last few days and we had a game plan for that. At every one of the seven roundabouts, everyone knew where they had to be on the road. We kept saying truck and trailer. Whoever was driving the juggernaut was thinking about the rear end of it too and making sure there was room for eight guys across the road in the wind."

    "It's all little bits of attention to detail, instead of thinking, 'We'll just go flat out and it's only the Tour of Qatar'. I think the approach and the process is important for everyone. We did that, we executed and we won the bike race. For us this was important. Cycling's about...

  • Roche chasing big results in 2010

    Nicholas Roche (AG2R La Mondiale) and Daniel Lloyd (Cervelo TestTeam)
    Article published:
    February 07, 2010, 17:14 GMT
    By:
    Shane Stokes

    Slimmed-down Irishman wants to step up a level

    By his own admission, Nicolas Roche is normally an athlete who takes a couple of months to ride into form. He has shown promising early-season condition in his first race, though, going on the attack on yesterday’s fourth stage of the Etoile de Bessèges with several other riders.

    While Roche played down the significance of the move afterwards, the fact that he was able to go clear when a substantial chunk of the peloton went backwards on the hilly stage shows that he means business. He and his four breakaway companions were caught just three kilometres from the end of the stage, but he’s hit the ground running in his first race of 2010.

    “The idea for the first few days was to take it handy, to get the rhythm back,” he said after the stage. “Then yesterday [Friday] I tried on the last climb to open up a bit for today. Today, I told the team I wanted to attack on a few climbs to get everything going.

    “I attacked when there were three riders out in front. I caught one guy [another chaser] on the climb and he took my wheel. They were five of us. Hoogerland wasn’t pulling as his team-mate had the jersey; even though he was losing the jersey, he still wouldn’t ride.

    “We got caught with less than three kilometres to go, but I was happy enough as I said I wanted to do a good days work. Going up the road is nothing to be excited about, as such, but I was happy enough that I was climbing okay, that was more important. I don’t feel great yet, but it is good to know that I am going okay even though my form is not as good as it can be.”

    Roche had a strong 2009 season, taking five top-ten results on stages of his first Tour de France, as well as finishing 23rd overall. The Irish road race champion rode well in several other events, but wants to step things up a level in 2010. With that in mind, he’s worked on keeping his race down in the off-season.

    ...
  • Merckx shrugs off cancer claims

    A healthy looking Eddy Merckx talks to Fabian Cancellara in Qatar.
    Article published:
    February 07, 2010, 18:38 GMT
    By:
    Stephen Farrand

    Cycling legend looks healthy as he watches the racing in Qatar

    Eddy Merckx has confirmed to Cyclingnews that he has never had intestinal cancer despite a report in a Belgian newspaper claimed that he had admitted to the illness during an interview.

    The Sud Presse newspaper claimed on Saturday that Merckx had admitted suffering from intestinal cancer a few years ago when he suddenly lost weight and said that he has had to be careful what he eats and drinks ever since.

    Merckx looked healthy as he watched the opening stage of the Tour of Qatar and dismissed the report in Sud Presse with a shrug of the shoulders and a few harsh words.

    "I never talked about intestinal cancer during the interview. I don't understand why it was written in the paper," he said to Cyclingnews.

    "I talked about some stomach problems during a big interview I did with a soccer coach but all I said was that I didn’t drink champagne or white wine anymore because it doesn't suit my stomach."

    "But I still drink red wine and as people can see, I'm in good health."

    Merckx is widely recognised as the greatest-ever professional rider, retired from racing in 1978. He recently sold his frame building business and gone into semi-retirement.

    However, he is a key part of the organisation that created the Tour of Qatar and watched carefully has his son Axel directed the Trek-Livestrong Under 23 team in this year's race.

  • Cycling mourns for Ballerini

    Franco Ballerini after Paris-Roubaix
    Article published:
    February 07, 2010, 21:56 GMT
    By:
    Cycling News

    Racers, friends, teammates saddened by his passing

    The news of Franco Ballerini's death reached the Tour of Qatar just minutes before the start of the opening team time trial.

    Some riders heard the news before they began the stage but many others, including eventual winners Team Sky, only found out after they had celebrated victory on the podium.

    Everyone was shocked and race organizers have announced that a minute's silence in memory of Ballerini will be held before stage two on Monday morning.

    Many riders expressed their condolences via Twitter.

    "I think that everyone who has the luck to know Franco Ballerini feels like a piece of his heart has died today! An hug to his family!" Liquigas rider Manuel Quinziato wrote from Qatar.

    Robert Hunter: "I just been shocked by the news of Franco Ballerini's passing! He taught me so much about being a pro, a person I'll never forget!!!"

    Lance Armstrong: "So sad to hear of passing of Franco Ballerini. Raced many years w/ him. Cool guy and great champ. Leaves behind a wife and 2 kids. RIP, FB."

    Charly Wegelius: "Today is a sad day. My heart is with the children and wife of Franco Ballerini. He was a gentleman and a true champion."

    Italians remember Ballerini

    In Italy, the news of Ballerini's sudden death shocked the cycling family. Ballerini was loved by everyone for his understanding character and genuine affection.

    Paolo Bettini rushed to the hospital in Pistoia after he heard the news. He and Ballerini had competed in several rally events together, as pilot and navigator. They were very close after winning two world titles and a gold medal at the 2004 Olympic in Athens.

    "I've lost a great friend, a brother," Bettini told Italian media after comforting Ballerini's wife Sabrina.

    "Ballerini had risked his life a thousands times in races. He rode Paris-Roubaix without a helmet (when they were not obligatory) and dived down descents in the Dolomites, but he never...

  • Cromwell relieved to start season after turbulent break

    Tiffany Cromwell (Australia) chased Lisa Brennauer (Germany) on her own, but was swept up on the finishing circuit as the bunch accelerated for the sprint prime
    Article published:
    February 08, 2010, 11:38 GMT
    By:
    Greg Johnson

    Team’s near collapse motivating Australian youngster

    The off season was full of twists and turns for South Australia’s Tiffany Cromwell, who chose to rejoin the Australian National Team program after the Team Skyter she’d signed with for 2010 nearly collapsed. A second twist in Emma Mackie falling ill saw Cromwell drafted into Australia’s lineup for the Ladies Tour of Qatar just four days before it commenced last week.

    Despite the last minute notice Cromwell admitted she was relieved to have her first overseas race behind her following the turbulent off-season. “With everything that happened it just motivated me even more to ride strong and have a really good pre-season build up so I can go into the Classics with the best possible form,” Cromwell told Cyclingnews. “It’s going pretty good at the moment, I’m pretty happy with my early season form. I’m definitely fit, I’ve been doing lots of base kilometres and my power is a lot stronger at the moment, so I can’t really complain.”

    Cromwell wasn’t the only rider to return to the national team ranks after the former Equipe Nürnberger Versicherung team’s new sponsor Skyter fell through. While the powerhouse of German’s women’s squad narrowly avoided complete collapse, Beijing Olympic Games gold medallist Nicole Cooke also joined her Great Britain National Team.

    While Cromwell hopes results this season will bring her a new professional contract, she’s also embracing the opportunity at hand. Returning to the Australian National Team will see her take on more responsibility with helping younger riders develop, an opportunity she’s relishing.

    “The first thing is to try and get a new professional contract, try to get the mid-year changeover,” said Cromwell. “I’m working with national coach Martin Barras who is fully committed to me and is supporting that as our major goal. But also going back to the...

  • RadioShack camp continues in Spain

    Haimar Zubeldia waits for his team-mates at the start of the team's second training ride.
    Article published:
    February 08, 2010, 12:55 GMT
    By:
    Cycling News

    Popovych, Armstrong absent from Calpe camp

    All but two of RadioShack’s riders are taking part in the team’s European camp in Calpe, Spain, with Lance Armstrong and Yaroslav Popovych the only riders absent. While Armstrong is at home training around Austin, Texas, his squad is training in Spain for a week until some of the riders head for Volta ao Algarve which starts on February 17.

    The RadioShack team has been split in two for the training rides, with the classics team separating from the remaining riders. Fumiyuki Beppu has joined the outfit for the first time, having been released from his Skil-Shimano contract last year to join the American squad.

    Cyclingnews has already published images from the first day of the team camp on Friday, however these images are from day two when team manager Johan Bruyneel sent the riders on a four-hour ride, north towards Valencia. Riders whose flights to Spain had fallen into the long-haul category were sent back to the team hotel early while the remaining riders pushed on for a final hour in the local hills.

    To see the full gallery click here.

  • Schleck upbeat despite injury

    Luxembourg's champion, Andy Schleck (Saxo Bank)
    Article published:
    February 08, 2010, 14:29 GMT
    By:
    Daniel Benson

    New problem not a huge setback, Saxo Bank rider says

    Despite pulling out of the Challenge Mallorca with a knee injury on Sunday, Andy Schleck is not worried about derailing his Classics or Tour de France campaigns. Schleck pulled out before Sunday's start with an inflamed knee and travelled home to Luxembourg. The Saxo Bank rider may yet return to Mallorca to train next week.

    Speaking to Cyclingnews at Mallorca airport Schleck remained optimistic: "It's not really a huge setback to be honest. In cycling you're either sick or not sick. Injured or not injured but when you have something you have to get off the bike and get it taken care of and fixed."

    "Of course I wanted to race here. Especially when I saw all the guys getting ready and getting on the team bus but I'm happy I've got this problem now and not in a month's time from now," the 24-year-old said.

    Schleck arrived in Mallorca after a two week training camp in Fuerteventura and a quick pit stop back in his native Luxembourg. After three days of intense training with his brother Frank, Jens Voigt and Laurent Didier his knee began to restrict his
    movement.

    "I trained for three days and then the next day I felt pain and needed to see what it was. Our doctor arrived yesterday and he and the hospital have told me that I have an inflammation under my knee cap and it needs some days rest."

    As for the cause of the injury Schleck could not be precise but offered alternative training as a possible explanation: "Maybe it was because back in Luxembourg due to the bad weather I've been doing a lot of other sports like cross country skiing. It's possible that my body isn't used to that type of exercise and that this is just a reaction to that."

    Schleck's 2009 campaign was also hit by injury with the Tour runner-up forced off the bike with tendonitis in his ankle. However Schleck confirmed that after a few days of total rest he'd start training again and that his next race would be Ruta del Sol.

    "I'm...