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First Edition Cycling News, Monday, January 10, 2011

Date published:
January 10, 2011, 0:00 GMT
  • McQuaid says Spanish federation should make a decision on Contador case

    UCI President Pat McQuaid attended the Leopard-Trek team presentation
    Article published:
    January 09, 2011, 19:04 GMT
    Brecht Decaluwé

    UCI president admits road is more glamorous than 'cross

    Pat McQuaid, president of the International Cycling Union (UCI), visited the Belgian cyclo-cross championships in Antwerp on Sunday and before the race the Irishman was pressed to talk about the new developments in the Alberto Contador case as well as Belgian rider Iljo Keisse's (Quick Step) attempts to race outside of Belgium.

    The Spanish cycling federation is said to have sent the UCI and WADA documentation a couple of days ago, asking these institutions to help them on making a decision over Alberto Contador and McQuaid talked about this unprecedented move from the Spanish cycling federation in Antwerp.

    “I've been in contact with our offices in Aigle but nothing has arrived over there. The system is that the Spanish federation must come to a solution. Some say the UCI should cover this instead of the national federations but who's going to pay for it? We already spend too much... or better, we spend a huge amount of money on the anti-doping department. Most national federations judge on these matters seriously and as a result the UCI doesn't have to appeal in many cases,” McQuaid said.

    McQuaid also outlined the UCI's stance on the Iljo Keisse affair.

    “I think what's going on here is that the Keisse case is an attack on the system,” said McQuaid. Keisse tested positive for using cathine and Hydrochlorothiazide (HCT) during the Ghent six-day event in November 2008. Keisse was cleared by the Belgian cycling federation one year later.

    “The Belgian federation did what they did but the UCI and WADA had a different opinion. We won the appeal at the CAS (court of arbitration for sport) and Iljo Keisse had to serve a two-year ban. Then Iljo had to go to the high-court in Switzerland but instead he went to Brussels. We were never informed of this appeal and thus formed no party that could appeal the verdict,” McQuaid said.

    “We accept that decision but when Keisse is racing outside...

  • Meyer looking to defend time trial

    Western Australian Cameron Meyer heads out on his ride against the clock and a gold medal in the men's Open Time Trial Championship.
    Article published:
    January 09, 2011, 22:23 GMT
    Chris Graetz

    Garmin-Cervelo man expecting tough test

    2010 national time trial champion Cameron Meyer is confident he can defend his jersey on Tuesday. The 40km course around Learmonth, east of Ballarat is predominantly flat after it was moved from the Buninyong circuit. Despite the change, Meyer believes he can win, but knows the circuit probably won't suit his characteristics.

    "I would like to think I could win," Meyer said before he geared up for the national road race on Sunday. “It's a flatter course out at Learmonth. I had a look at the course and it's probably more suited to Adam Hansen, who is a big strong rider and goes well on the flats, and also Jack Bobridge, who is strong on the flat," said Meyer.

    With Bobridge's impressive victory in the road race today, there is a strong chance the jersey can stay with Garmin-Cervelo again through 2011. However, Meyer knows it's going to be tough with up to eight riders capable of winning.

    "At the end of the day, it's a 40km course. It's still January and the guy that has done the most preparation for it will win, and I think I have done enough training to give it a red hot shake."

    Meyer spent a lot of time on the track at the end of the season, participating in the Commonwealth Games where he won multiple gold medals and also the first round of the track world cup, so his time on the time trial bike has been quite limited, but in the last month he has worked hard to prepare himself as much as he can for another tilt at the title.

    "Last year I spent a lot more time on the time trial bike than I did this year," Meyer said. "I've had to really increase my distance in the last few weeks to get that endurance behind me and can put in a good performance."

    "I've done some solid training and hopefully the legs are good by Tuesday."

  • Bannan confident in Australia's high performance progression

    Golden bling: Michael Matthews from Australia begins his celebrations in Geelong and the gold medal in the men's under 23 road race.
    Article published:
    January 09, 2011, 23:53 GMT
    Les Clarke

    Former High Performance Director looks at next step in career

    Former director of Cycling Australia's high performance program, Shayne Bannan, is confident that the arrangements put in place after his departure will enable the sport to continue its solid progression in the country.

    Bannan had worked with Cycling Australia since 1986 and recently announced his resignation from the role, telling Cyclingnews: "The last three or four months - since July - I had been looking at the decision and the options open to me. It was just a matter of timing."

    With the 2012 Olympics less than two years away, Bannan explained that the program's goals were focused on that event in the immediate future and that he "had been in discussion with those in the high performance program and we looked at the strategy moving forward."

    Hitherto National Technical Director Kevin Tabotta will take over as National Performance Director whilst Paul Brosnan will be the general manager of the high performance program.

    "Since 2005 Kevin had been in his [previous] role and moving forward Paul Brosnan will essentially be a second in charge for him," said Bannan. "It's not about one person, however, it's about depth. Kevin and Paul are a good combination for the future, with their enthusiasm and commitment and the emphasis is on being a professional team."

    In the meantime Bannan is preparing to make make public his personal plans for the future, which will be timed to coincide with an announcement emanating from Jayco owner Gerry Ryan on January 17. He wouldn't be drawn on suggestions he is linked to the latter development but said he is examining his options.

    Under 23 program vital to road progression

    Australia has produced a steady stream of talent over the past five years - the likes of Simon Clarke, Matt Goss, Matthew Lloyd and Michael Matthews have come through the Australian Institute of Sport's road program based in Varese, Italy - and Bannan believes that the planning...

  • Kitchen content with criterium crown

    2011 Australian criterium champion Lauren Kitchen (Jayco-AIS) waits for the presentations.
    Article published:
    January 10, 2011, 0:14 GMT
    Les Clarke

    AIS youngster looking ahead to a busy 2011

    For the second consecutive year a surprise packet took out the Australian women's criterium national title, with Australian Institute of Sport rider Lauren Kitchen last week celebrating what was the biggest win of her fledgling career.

    The 20-year-old from Port Macquarie, on the New South Wales mid-north coast, caught the field by surprise early in the event and together with Jo Hogan rode to victory, in similar fashion to another Institute rider, Carly Light, in 2010.

    "We knew we had to race aggressively as we didn't have a sprinter," Kitchen told Cyclingnews. "Halfway through the race a small gap formed, someone dropped a wheel and Jo [Hogan] put her head down and went for it.

    "I had Marv [AIS women's road coach Martin Barras], Dave [McPartland] and Nico yelling at me for the rest of the race," Kitchen explained, as behind her the Honda Women's Team, which had been so dominant during the recent Jayco Bay Cycling Classic, struggled to close the gap. And as was the case during the 2010 race, the sprinters' teams failed to take their riders to the finish to contest a bunch kick.

    "I was a little bit surprised we got away so early. Spratty [AIS teammate Amanda Spratt] was sitting in and Honda was getting tired. Spratty's in good form so she didn't have to do any work and felt she could come over for the sprint if it finished that way," said Kitchen.

    On a tough circuit members of the aforementioned Honda Dream Team struggled and while the prestige of the battle for the national title was brought into question in the days leading up to the race, Kitchen said that she's proud to be able to wear the green-and-gold in criteriums this season.

    Not that she'll be riding many, however. A European program with the AIS is one of the highlights of her 2011 season, which is preceded by the Tour of Qatar, the Tour of Wellington in New Zealand and the Oceania road championships back in Australia in the coming two...

  • Di Luca set to ride for free with one year Katusha deal

    Danilo Di Luca (LPR Brakes)
    Article published:
    January 10, 2011, 8:33 GMT
    Cycling News

    Italian claims he is a new man after doping suspension

    Danilo Di Luca has signed a one-year contract with Team Katusha but will not draw a salary from the Russian-based team, Gazzetta dello Sport has reported. Team manager Andre Tchmil says the Italian will be able to seek his own chances in the Vuelta a Espana.

    Di Luca tested positive for EPO-CERA twice during the 2009 Giro d'Italia, in which he had finished second. He was given a two-year ban but this was reduced to nine months after he co-operated with Italian police and gave details of doping programme.

    He had earlier been suspended for three months during the off season in 2007-2008 for his involvement in the Italian Oil for Drugs doping case.

    “I am a new man,” the 35-year-old proclaimed. “Astana wanted me too, but the Katusha project is the right one.”

    He will not be paid by the team. “I won't get a wage. Tchmil and I have set up a premium system," he confirmed.

    Di Luca will ride in support of team captain Joaquin Rodriguez at the Giro d'Italia, according to Tchmil, “In the Vuelta he will have his own chances.”

    "I can’t deny that I made an indecent proposal to Di Luca," Tchmil said.  "But life is hard and sometimes you’ve got to know when to help people. He told me ‘I’m a new man’ and I told him that I’d take him if he rode for free. I told him ‘If you’ve got talent, prove it. I’m counting on your honesty and your word.’”

    Tchmil told Gazzetta he was touched when he read the story of how Di Luca was convinced to talk about his doping to a group of school children by Italian priest Don Marco. He rang him and they started to talk.

    “We take the fight against doping very seriously and whoever races for us has to agree to pay a fine equal to five years salary if they test positive. But the fight against doping is not a fight against people," Tchmil claimed.

  • McQuaid defends Andersen and Team Leopard-Trek

    UCI President Pat McQuaid attended the Leopard-Trek team presentation
    Article published:
    January 10, 2011, 9:32 GMT
    Daniel Benson

    UCI chief also notes growing nationalism of teams

    Pat McQuaid has defended the reputation of Leopard-Trek’s team directeur Kim Andersen, reaffirming that he is 100 per cent behind the new squad that is captained by the Schleck brothers and Fabian Cancellara.

    Andersen left Bjarne Riis's Saxo Bank-SunGard team last year after it emerged Andersen was working on the Luxembourg team with Brian Nygaard. He tested positive twice as a rider, which under current laws would have ended in a life-time ban from the sport.

    Nygaard and many of his Leopard-Trek riders have sung Andersen’s praises, and McQuaid, who attended the team launch in Luxembourg last week, also added his support.

    “He’s already answered several times in relation to his past and present and his future. Yes he was positive as a rider but so was Bjarne Riis [ed - Riis never tested positive but admitted to doping]. They still do good work now. Kim has every right to earn a living and be involved in cycling as he does good work,” McQuaid told Cyclingnews.

    “I’ve never heard any rumours and all I’ve heard about him as a team directeur has been very good and I don’t want to use the word positive but it's very encouraging that he’s a very good sports directeur so I’ll leave it at that.”

    McQuaid also echoed Nygaard’s sentiments that cycling had become too immersed in doping stories and scandals and that a move towards concentrating on the sporting achievements and racing would be in the best interests for the sport and its fans.

    McQuaid suggested that sections of the media focus far too much on doping, often looking for scandal and speculation where none exists.

    “Andersen was positive in a different time with different rules and different standards. You can go too far and try and look for something that’s not there and a lot of media go too far looking for something that’s not there. He’s worked with...

  • Knees happy with Sky contract Christmas present

    German champion Christian Knees (Milram)
    Article published:
    January 10, 2011, 10:15 GMT
    Cycling News

    Former Milram rider lands late deal after Pegasus problems

    Christmas presents are distributed on Christmas Eve in Germany, and Christian Knees got the present he wanted the most: a new pro contract. The German national road champion accepted an offer from Team Sky principal Dave Brailsford on December 24.

    Knees rode for Team Milram from 2006 to 2010, and when the German team folded at the end of the season, he signed with Pegasus Sports, which looked set to be an important new Australian squad. Unfortunately, the team was unable to get its sponsors and finances in order, and the International Cycling Union refused to give it a ProTeam licence and later a Professional Continental licence. That left the riders scrambling for new contracts in late December.

    Knees' manager, Paul de Geyter, contacted Sky and the offer came quickly. “Sky was interested, they still had one place free and Dave Brailsford called me on December 24,” Knees told “I accepted it on the same day.”

    He has been training in Mallorca with his new team since January 5. “I am definitely happy that it worked out with Sky. It is a top team and well organised. The team management were already interested in my last season, but then I signed with Pegasus.”

    The 29-year-old will find at least one familiar face at his new team. “I rode together with my new directeur sportif Servais Knaven for two years at Milram.”

    Knees' contract with the British team is for one year but is he happy with that. “Under the circumstances I couldn't expect more. I now have one year's time to show what I can do. That is healthy stress for me,” he said.

    In addition to his national title, Knees won Rund um Köln in 2006 and the overall title in the Bayern Rundfahrt in 2008.

  • Hesjedal voted Cyclingnews' Most Improved Rider

    Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Transitions) finished fourth on the stage and climbed to eighth overall.
    Article published:
    January 10, 2011, 12:25 GMT
    Daniel Benson

    Garmin-Cervelo Canadian was seventh overall in Tour de France

    Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Cervelo) has been crowed the most improved rider of 2010 by Cyclingnews readers. The Canadian won just under a third of the votes (5001), beating Vincenzo Nibali (2611) and Richie Porte (2458) into second and third respectively.

    “It’s a great honour to receive something like that from the readers and to be voted for is a really nice compliment,” Hesjedal told Cyclingnews from the Garmin-Cervelo training camp in Calpe, Spain.

    Hesjedal finished seventh in the Tour de France but was consistently strong throughout 2010. He was fifth in Strade Bianchi in March, and second in Amstel before winning a stage in the Amgen Tour of California and finishing fifth overall.

    However it was his Tour de France performance that stood out. With Garmin-Transitions pre-race hopes obliterated by crashes involving Christian Vande Velde and Tyler Farrar, the American squad were forced to alter their aspirations.

    Hesjedal moved himself into GC contention with a plucky ride on the stage to Arenberg and quietly went about consolidating his position through the mountains. Another daring break was made on the stage to Mende but his fourth place on the Tourmalet cemented his final GC position.

    He performed in the second half of the season as well, finishing sixth in San Sebastian, fourth in the Grand Prix de Quebec and third in the Grand Prix Montreal.

    “It’s down to consistent improvements over the last few years,” he told Cyclingnews.

    “It’s about making the little improvements, having that confidence and experience and the opportunities. I’ve just tried to keep that momentum going.”

    Hesjedal will have a similar race programme again in 2011, but may open his season in early February with a couple of days of racing on Mallorca, otherwise he'll make his first start in mid-February at Portugal's Volta ao Algarve.