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First Edition Cycling News, Monday, January 25, 2010

Date published:
January 25, 2010, 0:00 GMT
  • Nibali nails San Luis win

    Race leader Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas-Doimo)
    Article published:
    January 25, 2010, 3:50 GMT
    Kirsten Frattini

    Spring Classics and California beckon for Italian

    Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas-Doimo) will turn his attention to the months of March and April for the Spring Classics followed by the Tour of California after capturing the overall title at the Tour de San Luis in Argentina on Sunday.

    "In Italy it's very cold but I have been able to train very well in my region because the temperature is very OK, about 15 or 20 Celsius," said Nibali. "It is very important for training well especially before the Tour de San Luis race and also it was good training during the race. Now, I feel like I am in very good condition for the start of my season in Europe."

    Nibali will target Italian stage race Tirreno-Adriatico followed by Milano-Sanremo in March before riding Amstel Gold Race, La Fleche Wallone and Liège-Bastogne-Liège in April. "Liège-Bastogne-Liège is the one Classic that I can do the best in," he explained. "I hope that one day I can win this race because it is the most beautiful race."

    Following the Spring Classics, Nibali will skip the Giro d'Italia, travelling instead to the America's western seaboard to compete in the Tour of California between May 16-23.

    "I was seventh in the Tour of California last year," Nibali continued. "I will not race the Giro because we will have Ivan Basso and Franco Pellizotti and with that team they can win the Giro d'Italia. I really like the Tour of California. I think it's a race that is very good and very important and a nice race so I am happy to be racing there again. Plus, surely Lance Armstrong will be there."

    Nibali will target the Tour de France in the second half of the season where he aims to improve upon a seventh place performance in last year's Grand Tour.

    "I believe that I am strong this year and that I have more experience," said Nibali. "Last year I was seventh in the Tour and I would like to do better on my result. I think that result was good but this year I want to at least do that again or better...

  • Garmin-Transitions train in Spain

    Article published:
    January 25, 2010, 9:00 GMT
    Cycling News

    American flyers hit the Spanish coast for winter training

    Moving from their European base in Girona, Garmin-Transitions made the short trip to Alicante, Spain for their first training camp of the 2010 season.

    Minus their Tour Down Under squad, the riders and staff began a two-week camp last week.

    On the menu was a mix of training rides, group exercises and team meetings. In 2009, the team had their most successful season yet with Tyler Farrar winning 11 races, David Zabriskie taking the Tour of Missouri and Bradley Wiggins and Christian Vande Velde finishing in the top ten at the Tour de France.

    Though Wiggins has moved to Sky, the team have signed several strong reinforcements including Robbie Hunter, Michel Kreder, Johan Van Summeren, Peter Stetina, Fredrik Kessiakoff and Travis Meyer.

    Click here for a gallery of images from the Garmin-Transitions training camp.

  • Vichot’s Australian fanclub to carry on

    Cult hero Arthur Vichot (Française des Jeux)
    Article published:
    January 25, 2010, 9:20 GMT
    Jean-François Quénet

    Support for Française des Jeux neo-pro gains worldwide attention

    In a period of only two weeks, the Australian fan club of French rookie Arthur Vichot has swelled to more than 1000 members via an internet campaign that started on Facebook prior to the 2010 Tour Down Under.

    On Sunday evening, about 50 of those fans gathered in the lobby of the Adelaide Hilton after the final stage of the race to present to the French neo-pro with one of the group's customized t-shirts, a jersey of the Port Adelaide cycling club and a bottle of local wine to take home with him to Besançon in the region of Franche-Comté near the Swiss border.

    "I’m touched," said the 21-year-old, who had been amazed to receive such a warm welcome in South Australia. Randomly chosen by the group before his professional debut last week, he made his fans laugh when he said: "My teammates were happy for me that you cheered so much, but they were a little bit jealous too."

    Vichot-mania had swept along the roads of the Santos Tour Down Under with a peak reached as his supporters inscribed "Allez Vichot" on Old Willunga Hill.

    Daniel Searson and his friends have no intention to put an end to their campaign. "We’ll build him up," said one of them. "We won’t do the same thing for another rider next year. We want to make sure that Française des Jeux will send him to the Tour Down Under again next year."

    Vichot's team manager Marc Madiot is aware of the unbelievable success of the Vichot-mania in Australia. The phenomenon has been reported in France, but also on USA Today.

    "We’ve been lucky that the guy we picked played the game and didn’t turn us down," said the fans. "Arthur has been very approachable and friendly." The group informed the young cyclist that they will stay tuned all night when he’ll compete in Paris-Roubaix next April. A number also promised they’ll travel all the way to Europe to cheer on him again once makes his way into the Grand Tours.

  • Sky's Brailsford refutes rumours of £30m budget

    Team Sky line up to sign on after a great start to the season.
    Article published:
    January 25, 2010, 11:24 GMT
    Richard Tyler

    British team lower on the financial ladder than other squads, pleased with Australian start

    Team Sky principal Dave Brailsford has hit-back at claims that his team is the best funded professional team in cycling. He told The Guardian's Richard Moore that reports his team is supported by a mammoth £30 million (USD54 million) budget were grossly exaggerated.

    Backed by broadcaster Sky, a division of media conglomerate News Limited, Brailsford said his squad was ranked behind a number of other teams in terms of its annual operating budget. Concerned about the impact budgetary rumours may be having on the image of the team, he indicated that he may soon move to reveal the true figure in order to set the record straight.

    "We may circulate the International Cycling Union (UCI) list [detailing teams' budgets]," said Brailsford. "I think we're sixth in the league table. It's a total myth [that Sky is the best-funded] and I think we'll try to put that right by providing some facts. It doesn't do us any favours to have people think that."

    Despite his contention over the financial rumours that have swirled around the team, Brailford was nevertheless satisfied with Sky's results at their first race, the Tour Down Under. Chris Sutton's stage six win capped a strong debut for the new squad, with New Zealander Greg Henderson riding to third overall after an earlier win in the event's curtain raiser, the Cancer Council Helpline Classic.

    "If you'd told me we'd come away with two wins when we got on the plane to come down here, I'd have taken it with both hands," he said. Brailsford also pointed out that the performances had been achieved by some of the team's less-established stars.

    "Russell [Downing] spent last year racing in the UK," said Brailsford. "For him to step up to [the ProTour] level – and it is another level – is a big...

  • Phinney ready to lead Trek-Livestrong in Qatar

    Taylor Phinney and Alex Dowsett have a little fun on the ride.
    Article published:
    January 25, 2010, 12:35 GMT
    Daniel Benson

    Under-23 squad confident against elite competition, Tour of Missouri start possible

    Taylor Phinney will kick-start his 2010 season at the Tour of Qatar next month, leading his Trek-Livestrong squad against one of the highest quality fields the under-23 team will have faced in their short two-year history.

    The US-based team will compete in the six-day event, which begins with a four-kilometre team time trial, and Phinney believes that the team has what it takes to not only take on the ProTour ranks but also cause a few surprises.

    "I’m not going to say that we’re going to go there and win the team time trial prologue, but its big goal and the perfect race for us. We have a strong group of time trial riders and if everything goes to plan and we go as fast as I’d like we can certainly be up there. It’s a big goal. I wouldn’t be surprised if we got a big result," Phinney told Cyclingnews.

    Alongside Phinney, Trek-Livestrong's Qatar line-up will contain Jesse Sergent and Alex Dowsett, both of whom are time trial specialists. During the team’s recent training camp in Solvang, California, the riders trained specifically for the event.

    "I love team time trialling," Phinney said, whose last venture into the discipline was back in his junior days. "It’s faster and more fun that going on your own. The only ones I’ve done have been really technical and that’s not really what we’ll get in Qatar. It’s going to be a good experience for the team."

    "It’s the biggest race we’ll have done when it comes to racing against guys like [Quick Step's Tom] Boonen and the top professional teams but there’s the potential that we might do the Tour of Missouri later on in the year too. We had the opportunity last year but I crashed and got sick, so it wasn’t an option."

    Despite entering the race with an optimistic mindset, Phinney is aware that the team won’t get an easy ride. "We’re going into Qatar knowing that it...

  • Peanut Butter & Co.TWENTY12 join women's peloton

    2009 women's time trial world champion Kristin Armstrong (United States of America).
    Article published:
    January 25, 2010, 13:20 GMT
    Kirsten Frattini

    Armstrong to manage US's newest pro squad, team target World and Olympic success

    Peanut Butter & Co.TWENTY12 will be the USA's newest women's team set to enter the peloton this year. The team will be managed by reigning World and Olympic Time Trial Champion Kristin Armstrong with the aim at developing talent on the road and track with an eye toward the 2012 Olympic Games in London.

    The squad will consist of a UCI-registered track team which will target the World Cup and World Championships as well as an elite road team which will compete in the USA's National Racing Calendar while allowing riders to join the US National Team for international events in Europe.

    One of the most decorated female cyclists in the history of the sport, Armstrong announced her retirement from professional cycling after her win at the 2009 UCI Time Trial World Championships held in Mendrisio, Switzerland last September. She will now dedicate the next chapter of her career to the development of women's cycling in her home country; partly through the Kristin Armstrong Cycling Academy and also in her position at the helm of the newly formed team.

    "Kristin will be our team director and consultant," General Manager Nicola Cranmer told Cyclingnews. "Kristin's dedication to development riders is very apparent. She is working on a number of projects outside of the team while she is riding the wave of her Olympic and World Championship success."

    Focus on developing riders

    The new squad is a full makeover of the successful ProMan-Hit Squad, a California-based team that got its start in 2006 under the direction of Cranmer. It has placed a heavy emphasis on the development of young American riders. The team's management have vowed to continue supporting junior level talent, but will now turn much of its attention to the development of the elite riders on the World and Olympic platform.

    "Serendipity played a small part in this process, but a great deal of hard work and support from many played the...

  • Armstrong feeling stronger than 12 months ago

    Lance Armstrong (RadioShack)
    Article published:
    January 25, 2010, 14:30 GMT
    Greg Johnson

    Less muscle, new position yields dividends for American

    At the conclusion of his first race of the new season, Lance Armstrong believes his condition to be a vast improvement on that of 12 months earlier, when he returned to the sport after a three year retirement at the 2009 Tour Down Under. Armstrong was visible throughout the 2010 edition of the Australian ProTour event, with an attack in the pre-race criterium followed by an active role as a lead-out man for RadioShack’s sprinter Gert Steegmans.

    The seven-time Tour de France winner was again on the attack with teammate Daryl Impey on stage four, albeit by accident. Although unable to keep up with breakaway riders Cadel Evans (BMC Racing Team) or Caisse d’Epargne teammates Luis León Sánchez and Alejandro Valverde on the race’s subsequent queen stage over Old Willunga Hill, Armstrong feels he’s in a strong position for the year ahead.

    "You know, it feels different to last year," said Armstrong. "It feels more comfortable pedalling but also in the bunch, position and feeling the race is a big advantage. I think my condition is a little more advanced, my weight is lighter and we’ve got a good year in front of us. In 2010 we’ve got a simpler schedule and we’ve got our own team again."

    Armstrong admitted that the competition had been greatly increased at the Tour Down Under, thanks to the inclusion of BMC Racing Team as a wild card and new ProTour outfit Team Sky. He believes the event will have served as good lead in to a big year of racing.

    "You don’t want to over cook it, but I think its good preparation," said Armstrong. "I wouldn’t want it to be any harder."

    RadioShack team manager Johan Bruyneel believes the change of team environment for this year has also assisted Armstrong. While the RadioShack team has been created from the infrastructure of the Astana team Armstrong rode for and Bruyneel managed last year, they’re no longer working under the...

  • Greipel’s peers astounded by Down Under dominance

    André Greipel (HTC-Columbia)
    Article published:
    January 25, 2010, 14:53 GMT
    Greg Johnson

    Speculation grows that German could provide Tour lead-out for Cavendish

    Some of cycling’s biggest names have commended Germany’s André Greipel (HTC-Columbia) after he took his second overall Tour Down Under title at the weekend. Greipel won three of the race’s six stages to become the event’s second double victor in its 12 year history, yet, despite the latest confirmation of his position as one of the sport's top sprinters, HTC-Columbia say he is prepared to work in a lead-out role for Manxman Mark Cavendish at this year’s Tour de France.

    Tour de France green jersey winner Robbie McEwen (Katusha) spoke highly of the Vuelta a España stage winner. While McEwen, who is recovering from injury, believes Greipel can be beaten he is clearly impressed by the huge German’s strength.

    "He’s very, very good," said McEwen. "He’s got a super strong team to take him into the sprint and when it comes to the sprint itself he’s going really, really well – he’s just so strong. Every January he comes down here in very, very good form.

    "You see guys like him and Greg Henderson, they came out of the Vuelta at the end of last season and that sort of sets you up for a very good off-season and to start the [new] season strong again," said McEwen prior to the final stage. "They’re the only two that have won in sprints so far."

    Even before Greipel’s success at the ProTour opener, HTC-Columbia had raised the prospect of him leading out Cavendish at the Tour de France. The pair would need to work together in smaller races together before a decision is made and much could hinge on the recovery of Australia’s Mark Renshaw from Epstein-Barr virus.

    "You know, I think we’re staying open on that," said HTC-Columbia team owner Bob Stapleton. "André is a selfless teammate, he’s willing to do that, which I think is remarkable. I think it would strike fear in the heart of a lot of teams to think of those guys riding...