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First Edition Cycling News, Monday, January 16, 2012

Date published:
January 16, 2012, 0:00 GMT
  • Durbridge out of Down Under Classic after crash

    Luke Durbridge on his way to the gold medal
    Article published:
    January 15, 2012, 9:42 GMT
    Cycling News

    But rider should still be fit for the Tour Down Under

    GreenEDGE's selection problems continued earlier with the news that Luke Durbridge has been forced to pull out of today's Down Under Classic in Adelaide, Australia. The 20-year-old, who won the Australian national time trial championships earlier this month, suffered minor head injuries following a pre-race crash.

    Durbridge had only just been confirmed as GreenEDGE's replacement for Jack Bobridge at next week's Santos Tour Down Under, which will be the team's debut tour on the WorldTour. Bobridge injured his hand in a crash at the national time trial championship and has been ruled of the race. Durbridge, however, is expected to recover in time to take his place on the start line on Tuesday.

    "He should be fine, (but) we'll let the doctors make that decision," said team director Matt White. "The main thing is he's alright."

  • Stuart O'Grady accused of assault

    Aussie Stuart O'Grady happy on the start line.
    Article published:
    January 15, 2012, 12:03 GMT
    Cycling News

    Australian rider's chauffeur reports incident to police

    13-time Tour de France veteran Stuart O'Grady (GreenEdge) has been reported to the police following an alleged altercation between him and a chauffeur. The driver picked him up from a winery on January 10 where he had been a guest speaker at the Tour Down Under dinner, according to a report in the Adelaide Advertiser.

    The 38-year-old Australian, a two-time winner of the Tour Down Under in the past, has found his preparation for this year's race compromised by the accusation. The chauffeur reportedly told police that O'Grady assaulted him in the car after an argument broke out over the wearing of a seatbelt and also threw a glass. Police, who have yet to speak to O'Grady, confirmed that the incident is being treated as a "minor physical assault".

    "Stuey is the victim here," a GreenEdge source told the newspaper. "We find the timing of this to be quite strange. He's a family man and a proud local. He had witnesses and he's here to race."

  • Henderson the missing ingredient for Greipel?

    Andre Greipel (Lotto-Belisol) celebrates as he crosses the line the clear winner of the Down Under Classic in Adelaide.
    Article published:
    January 15, 2012, 13:36 GMT
    Jane Aubrey

    Lotto Belisol lead out runs to perfection in Down Under Classic

    Andre Greipel (Lotto Belisol) stormed to victory in the Down Under Classic in Adelaide on Sunday evening, the lead up criterium to the Santos Tour Down Under which begins Tuesday. The win echoed 2008 when Greipel took out the same event, before dominating the Australian race.

    "It's always a good race when you win at the end, especially the first race when the whole ProTour peloton is here," Greipel said. "I'm just happy to finish it off at the end today."

    The result was a study in the fine art of lead out trains with Marcel Seiberg setting up the team perfectly on the back straight before the final sprint. Lotto Belisol made their moves with around six laps remaining 30 laps criterium, with Greipel's trusted workhorse Adam Hansen moving towards the front of the bunch.

    However, it was the efforts of Greg Henderson, who joins the Belgian outfit following an unhappy season at Sky, which was most evident as the catalyst for the German sprinter's win. The union was previously in existence in 2008 and 2009 when the pair were at HTC-Columbia with Greipel netting over 30 wins with Henderson his main man.

    In 2011 racing for Omega Pharma-Lotto, while he won his first stage at the Tour de France it was a frustrating season for the man from Rostock, netting only 10 wins his worst collection since 2007 when he hit the line first in just two races. What was once 'easy', was now that little bit more difficult having left the well-drilled lead out train of HTC-Highroad.

    Asked if he was the missing ingredient for Greipel's success, Henderson was frank.

    "That's what I was employed for," the Kiwi told...

  • Boardman tips Cameron Meyer for stardom

    Western Australian Cameron Meyer will be a key figure in the team's quest for grand tour stage victories.
    Article published:
    January 15, 2012, 15:55 GMT
    Cycling News

    British legend says Australia will challenge Team GB on the track in 2012

    He's preparing to defend the Santos Tour Down Under title than he won last year in dramatic fashion, and GreenEdge rider Cameron Meyer has received a timely boost from a legendary British cyclist. Chris Boardman, who won Olympic gold on the track in 1992 and broke the world hour record three times in his career, has said that Australian cycling in general is in rude health but singled out Meyer as the pick of the bunch.

    ''He can hardly be called 'new' now, but Cameron Meyer is a fascinating prospect,'' Boardman told the Sydney Morning Herald. ''The only thing to understand now is what direction he is going to go and how that is going to manifest itself. Is he going to become a major tour rider? Or is he going to be someone who can grab stages? I will be interested to see how he develops. He is the most interesting prospect to come out of Australia.''

    Boardman will be serving as a technical adviser for the Great Britain track team at the London 2012 Olympics and he admits that he is worried by the threat that will be posed by the improving Australians. After Team GB dominated on the track four years ago in the Beijing Olympics, Boardman has watched Australia's progress with interest.

    "With Australia now, the most fascinating thing is with the size of the population,  the strength and depth is incredible,'' Boardman said. "There are not going to be the margins we saw in Beijing. This is going to be all the way to the line and I couldn't tell you who is going to win. Right now,...

  • Johansson hit by car, suffers two broken collarbones

    Emma Johannson (Hitek Products UCK) leads up the Kapelmuur
    Article published:
    January 15, 2012, 21:56 GMT
    Cycling News

    Swedish champion says training accident "could have been much worse"

    Swedish road champion Emma Johansson (Hitec Products-Mistral Home) was hit by a car during a training ride on the island of Gran Canaria on Saturday and suffered two broken collarbones in the collision. She was training with her husband Martin Vestby when the accident occurred.

    According to reports in Sportbladet, it's also possible that Johansson suffered a broken arm, but the 28-year-old has received conflicting diagnoses from doctors and it hasn't yet been confirmed.

    "I am totally disabled now," Johansson told Sportbladet. "I drink through straws and need to be fed when I eat." Johansson, however, remains optimistic, saying it "could have been much worse", and hopes to begin racing in late February.

    Johansson had a strong 2011 season highlighted by victory at the Internationale Thüringen Rundfahrt, a repeat win at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and the Swedish road title. She also finished the season ranked second overall, to Marianne Vos, in the UCI standings plus claimed third overall in the World Cup.

    Johansson won a silver medal in the 2008 Beijing Olympic road race, and despite the setback in her season as a result of the accident, she expects to be fully recovered and ready to seek another medal this summer at the London Olympics. Johansson has already been selected for Sweden's team and doesn't have to worry about qualifying in the early months of the season.

    "Now it's important that the injury heals completely," Johansson said. "But I have no pain in my legs and I can breathe so I might be able to pedal soon."

  • Gallery: Tour Down Under team presentation

    Controversial figure Alejandro Valverde signs on. This is the second time he's appeared at the Tour Down Under.
    Article published:
    January 16, 2012, 0:33 GMT
    Cycling News

    Perfect weather for launch of "strongest ever" field in Adelaide

    The Down Under Classic, the traditional precursor to the Tour Down Under's official start on Tuesday, gave fans their first chance to see some of the professionals in attendance up close. The team's presentation which preceded the race gave the assembled crowd a little bit of an insight in some of their heroes before the actual racing began.

    First on stage were the always popular UniSA-Australia team, followed by the 18 WorldTour squads.

    Among the most popular were the locals Luke Roberts (Saxo Bank) and Stuart O'Grady (GreenEdge), but there were also big cheers for Jens Voigt (RadioShack-Nissan), Mark Renshaw (Rabobank) and 'new Australian' Heinrich Haussler (Garmin-Barracuda).

    Eddy Merckx was also on hand for the event, and the Belgian legend took the opportunity to attempt playing the indigenous instrument - the didgeridoo.

    See the full gallery of the team's presentation here.

  • O’Grady says minor assault allegations are "outrageous"

    Stuart O'Grady rode strongly to aid his GreenEDGE teammates and set up a win for Simon Gerrans.
    Article published:
    January 16, 2012, 1:21 GMT
    Jane Aubrey

    Bannan wants matter cleared up as quickly as possible

    Stuart O'Grady calmly fronted the media on Monday morning prior to a training ride with his GreenEdge team, to discuss his reaction to the allegation that he assaulted a chauffeur that drove him home from a function on January 10.

    The news broke on the eve of the Santos Tour Down Under, GreenEdge's WorldTour debut. The team's general manager Shayne Bannan said that they would be supporting O'Grady throughout the ordeal

    "We're concerned for the welfare of Stuey and to make sure that we're running through the correct processes and doing everything correctly," Bannan confirmed.

    "The guys are pretty focussed. We're obviously fairly protective of our image as well so we're hoping that it's cleared up as quickly as possible."

    Meantime O'Grady aired his disappointment over the situation.

    "I think it's pretty outrageous," O'Grady explained. "I'm very disappointed. I think, you know, I was a guest speaker at a dinner, I had a fantastic night. I just find it very bizarre with the timing, if I'd done any of these accusations why it's taken a week for it to come out?

    "It's very strange circumstances and from what I hear this isn't the first time this person's pulled this kind of, I'm going to call it a stunt because... I'm just very disappointed because I think anybody that knows me and my character. I'm a long, long way from doing anything like that."

    O'Grady categorically denied that he assaulted Ralf Hadzic, from Life is a Cabernet chauffeur service in the car after an argument broke out over the wearing of a seatbelt with it also being alleged that the Paris-Roubaix winner threw a glass in the vehicle. Police, who have yet to speak to O'Grady, confirmed that the incident is being treated as a "minor...

  • Rihs: I have total confidence that Cadel can win in 2012

    Andy Rihs was animated in the BMC pre-Tour Down Under press conference.
    Article published:
    January 16, 2012, 6:25 GMT
    Alex Hinds

    BMC owner also happy to welcome GreenEdge into WorldTour

    BMC bike company owner Andy Rihs has no doubts of Cadel Evans' (BMC) Tour de France chances this year, telling the assembled press in Adelaide for the Santos Tour Down Under that he has "total confidence" in the Australian to repeat his 2011 feat.

    It will be Evans' third year with the BMC squad after previous stints with Lotto, T-Mobile, Mapei, and Saeco. Rihs said that his faith in Evans stems from the closeness shared by the American squad - something has come from keeping the core of riders together for several seasons in a row.

    "This team now more than anything is a family and that makes us a very tight unit. You saw how much the team supported Cadel last year and I think we can do the same again."

    "There are more time trial kilometres, over 100 this year, and that can only help Cadel. In addition, we have two very strong riders in Hushovd and Gilbert and I know they’ll be happy to help Cadel as well."

    Rihs also watered down suggestions that the infusion of Philippe Gilbert from Omega Pharma-Lotto, and Thor Hushovd from Garmin-Cervelo would cause problems for the team in trying to please too many big riders at the Tour. Evans has in previous years voiced his concerns of having more than one leader at the Tour de France; at least one of the reasons he ended up leaving the Omega Pharma-Lotto team at the end of 2009.

    Rihs insisted that he was not concerned however, saying that Hushovd and Gilbert's ambitions lie earlier in the season and that it would be 100 per cent for Evans come July.

    "For Hushovd I know he dreams of winning Roubaix and Gilbert the Ardennes once more," said Rihs. "But...