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First Edition Cycling News, Monday, January 31, 2011

Date published:
January 31, 2011, 0:00 GMT
  • Kreuziger ready to take on Giro

    Roman Kreuziger is looking forward to the Giro d'Italia
    Article published:
    January 30, 2011, 11:47 GMT
    Hedwig Kröner

    Astana co-leader plans to become a true Grand Tour contender in 2011

    Roman Kreuziger is ready to take his career to another level. The new Astana co-leader will challenge for the overall victory at the Giro d'Italia this year, without the team's captain Alexander Vinokourov and therefore as the squad's sole spearhead.

    The 24-year-old Czech has finished in the top ten of the Tour de France these past two years and already won the Tour de Suisse and the Tour de Romandie in the past, so the new objective is a logical step in his career as a pro rider.

    "I've come to a stage in my career where I feel I can take up responsibility. I will go to the Giro to win it," said Kreuziger at the team presentation in Monaco on Friday. Even though he has never participated in the Italian Grand Tour, his five years at Liquigas and the fact that he lives in Italy make him feel confident as he faces the challenge.

    "It might be new to me, but I'm not scared," he commented. "I know the Italian mountains. I'm confident we can do very well, and I'm very motivated. I think for the first time trial we will be good, but once we get to the mountains we will be with the best," he added, firmly believing in the striking power of his team at the Giro's stage one collective race against the clock and his subsequent striking power in the first mountain stages.

    The choice of his new team was also a logical one, said Kreuziger. Leaving Liquigas, where he has raced the past five years in the company of Ivan Basso and Vincenzo Nibali, was necessary in order to push his career forwards.

    "I looked at all the positives and negatives, and after five years in the same team I preferred to change, because I was missing a driving force. I needed new input to motivate myself again. With the experience of Vinokourov and...

  • Page, Johnson, Powers and Driscoll suffer mixed fortunes in Sankt-Wendel

    American Jonathan Page trains on the St. Wendel, Germany world championship course.
    Article published:
    January 30, 2011, 18:42 GMT
    Brecht Decaluwé

    US men affected by punctures and crashes

    The US-riders suffered mixed fortunes at the 2011 cyclo-cross world championships: Jonathan Page flatted while riding in the lead group, Tim Johnson crashed out of the race, Jeremy Powers (Cannondale) struggled while hopping the barriers and James Driscoll (Cannondale) had an off-day.

    In the large group that sprinted for eighth place at more than two minutes behind winner Stybar, veteran Belgian Bart Wellens (Belgium) held off Christian Heule (Switzerland), Tom Meeusen (Belgium), Gerben de Knegt (The Netherlands) and Jonathan Page (USA). Page probably had his best legs of the season but punctured while riding comfortably in the lead group at the start of the third lap. Page faced an uphill battle to close the gap after also losing a lot of time before he could take a new bike.

    “You have championships riders and consistent riders. I'm a little bit of both. I'd rather be good on a day like today instead of being consistently good. Despite starting from third row I immediately got to the front. I felt it was a great day for me and that was all I could ask for. Unfortunately I flatted right after the pit. On the climb I felt like a scooter on the highway,” Page said.

    The silver medallist from the 2007 world championships didn't give up and bounced back from a distant 27th place. Being the top US-finisher in twelfth place brought little consolation for his bad luck. Though far from his second place in 2007 his result was probably one of the best US-results for the Elite Men category in recent years.

    “Afterwards I kept going, giving everything to leave it out there. I caught [Niels] Albert who was struggling and then rode most of the race on my own. I made one mistake and crashed hard on my shoulder. Apart from that I could've...

  • Evans rates Schleck and Basso as top Tour de France rivals

    Cadel Evans (BMC) will begin his season at the Giro del Friuli.
    Article published:
    January 30, 2011, 22:23 GMT
    Barry Ryan

    Australian will begin season at Giro del Friuli on March 3

    Cadel Evans (BMC) has nominated Andy Schleck and Ivan Basso as his biggest rivals at July’s Tour de France. The Australian also expressed his satisfaction at his first season as a BMC rider.

    “Certainly Andy [Schleck] on paper will be the first guy everyone is looking at,” Evans told Cyclingnews at the BMC training camp in Denia. “Then with Ivan [Basso] back in the Tour again and not riding the Giro, Liquigas has a really good team for the three-week races as it showed at last year’s Giro.”

    Like Evans, Basso also trains under the guidance of the Mapei Centre in Castellanza, Italy but there will be no quarter asked or given come July, in spite of their shared experiences and relationship with the late Aldo Sassi.

    “We’re looking at the same goals and we’re using pretty much the same tools to go about them, so in the end, in some ways I suppose we’re closer,” Evans said. “But then at the same time, if I want the Tour de France, I have to beat a guy like Ivan Basso. But with everything, especially in the last 12 months or so with the Giro and Ivan and Aldo [Sassi], in other respects, I feel there’s a different rapport with Ivan than with some of my other competitors.”

    The Mapei Centre’s general manager Aldo Sassi lost his battle with cancer in December and Evans is now coached by Andrea Morelli. He admitted that while his professional collaboration with the centre continues as before, on a human level he is still coming to terms with the loss of his friend.

    “It’s more or less business as usual [in terms of...

  • Matthews set for European World Tour races after Tour Down Under

    Michael Matthews (Rabobank Cycling Team) beats Greipel and Goss
    Article published:
    January 31, 2011, 5:13 GMT
    Jane Aubrey

    Rabobank lauds best ever result in Australia

    After surpassing all expectations in his debut World Tour race, Michael Matthews' 2011 race schedule is now expected to change significantly according to Rabobank director sportif Adri Van Houwelingen.

    Matthews' performance was just one element of a team effort which Van Houwelingen described as Rabobank's "biggest achievement at the Tour Down Under so far."

    The reigning under 23 road race world champion took out the Tour Down Under's third stage from Unley to Stirling and was narrowly beaten by Movistar's Francisco Ventoso on stage five to Willunga. The results aided in Matthews finishing fourth on general classification, nine seconds behind winner, Garmin-Cervelo's Cameron Meyer.

    "He [Matthews] surprised the whole world including our team because it was his first World Tour race – he wins one stage and then beaten by centimetres in another and fourth overall," a pleased Van Houwelingen told Cyclingnews. "It's a big result for him and also for the team."

    Matthews was also shocked at the results: "I definitely did not expect it coming in to this, with so many good riders here," he told journalists following the Tour Down Under. "I was in pretty good form coming off Bay Crits and Nationals, so I was pretty confident that I would go alright, but definitely not two podiums."

    Impressive results bring new opportunities

    So pleased was Van Houwelingen with the 20-year-old's results that he predicts the Australian can look forward to a slightly more difficult schedule in 2011.

    "He has conducted himself fantastically here - Michael is an exceptional talent," he said.

    "I have to work his schedule out with all the other team directors because we've seen now that he's a strong guy and he can perform well in a World Tour race so I expect him to do the same in European World Tour races; perhaps his schedule can change a little bit because so far we've scheduled him for the smaller races in...

  • Millar: Garmin-Cervelo is like a hit squad of talent

    David Millar is looking forward to a return to the Classics
    Article published:
    January 31, 2011, 9:20 GMT
    Daniel Benson

    Scot will miss best friend White but admits riders must man-up

    David Millar believes that despite the loss of Matt White, Garmin-Cervelo is still one of the strongest teams in the UCI’s WorldTour.

    The Scot was speaking on the first day of the team’s final training camp, the first public occasion since White was dismissed for sending former Garmin rider Trent Lowe to Dr Luis del Moral.

    “It’s like a hit squad with so many excellent guys here. We’ve got, on paper, one of if not the best one day Classics teams and one of the best grand tour teams. It’s pretty impressive,” Millar told Cyclingnews.

    “My wife said this morning while I was getting ready, ‘you look like a proper cycling team’ but we’ve kept our spirit, our relaxed attitude and we don’t take ourselves too seriously. We’ve not gone corporate but we’ve got that global international level.”

    Millar was instrumental in bringing White to the team in 2008, persuading the Australian to hang up his wheels and become a directeur sportif. White could have continued his racing career for at least one year at that point but Millar, along with Jonathan Vaughters, singled him out as management material. However, White’s judgement in sending Lowe to del Moral – a former doctor at US Postal – contravened Garmin’s policies on anti-doping and outside medical help.

    “Losing Whitey was horrible. He’s one of my best friends. It came as such a shock, it came at us hard and it’s going to affect us for a long time. He was such a loved figure in the team and so charismatic but you’ve got to move on and I think we’ve got a lot of good guys.”

    “The new guys didn’t really...

  • Saxo Bank Spaniards must go on without Contador

    Benjamin Noval and Dani Navarro enjoy their ride in the sunshine outside Rotterdam.
    Article published:
    January 31, 2011, 10:00 GMT
    Cycling News

    Riis has faith in Navarro, Hernandez and Noval

    Daniel Navarro, Jesus Hernandez and Benjamin Noval all came over from Astana to Saxo Bank-SunGard with Alberto Contador for the 2011 season, to ride in support of their fellow Spaniard. With the 2010 Tour de France winner likely of getting a suspension, they are facing a season without him, but team boss Bjarne Riis still has high expectations of the trio.

    "Of course it is hard for the three to see the problems that Contador is having. And especially for Jesus Hernandez, because he is so close to Alberto," Riis told Ekstra Bladet.

    "I feel confident that all three will emerge as a clear win for the team. They have been accustomed to work for Contador, but they each have so much class that I believe that even without their captain they can help.”

    When the trio was signed, it was suggested that Contador had brought them in more or less against Riis' wishes. But the Dane is now happy to have them.

    "Certainly I can confirm that I have not for one moment regretted that I hired them. And after having got to know them and seeing how they are both personally and athletically, I am sure they will work fine in the squad without Contador.”

    The trio will make their season debut at the Volta ao Algarve, February 16 to 20. "It was here that Contador should also have had his debut and with the form he is in, he would most obviously have been a good bet to win.”

  • Pooley calls for more TV coverage in women's cycling

    Emma Pooley (Great Britain) shows off her gold medal.
    Article published:
    January 31, 2011, 10:20 GMT
    Daniel Benson

    Garmin-Cervélo rider would also welcome the UCI's biological passport

    Emma Pooley (Garmin-Cervélo) is one of the most decorated riders in women's cycling but despite the sport's growth over the last few years, she believes that much more should be done to help develop women's racing.

    The world time trial champion pointed to greater television exposure and UCI pressure as two key areas.

    "There's a huge market out there and it's certainly taken off as a sport in the UK and Australia where I've seen it, there are women riding bikes," she told Cyclingnews.

    "I think it could do with more coverage, essentially TV coverage. People watch men's cycling, they find it exciting and that's the whole point of it. Sponsors pay for teams, not necessarily to have the team that wins, but to have the team that gets their name on the television screen. So if our races are never televised it's less interesting for sponsors," she said.

    Women's cycling certainly has less air time than the men's racing and Pooley pointed to races like the Tour of Flanders as prime examples where the women's side of the sport could benefit if it was given its chance on television. The men's race is televised almost throughout the day while the women, who race sections of the same course and finish on the same straight, have no television coverage at all. Pooley believes that with just one motorbike camera crew, viewers would appreciate the choice between watching both races, especially as the women's event finishes hours before the men's.

    "What would be awesome for women's cycling would be if the main men's races, the big races, had a women's race alongside. So every day the same stage finish, but maybe not the same distances. That would be awesome because the television crews are already in place, the spectators would already be there and it wouldn't cost the organisers much more to put on a women's race in the morning. It would get us infinitely more...

  • Arctic Tour of Norway being planned

    Thor Hushovd cuts his cake
    Article published:
    January 31, 2011, 11:05 GMT
    Cycling News

    World champion Hushovd supports new race project

    Northern Norway is planning its first major international race, the Arctic Tour of Norway. The proposed race was presented last week by organisers, to be run as a national event in 2012 and 2013, then becoming international in 2014.  World champion Thor Hushovd expressed his support for the race.

    “This is the first step towards an international cycling stage race in northern Norway. This means that we have hired people who can work 100 percent with stage races. The cycling federation is interested, the funding is in place and we have a TV company that will produce the broadcasts,” said managing director Knut Erik Dybdal, according to Harstad Tidende.

    The new race would “stretch from Nordland to Finnmark, where the coastal route is an essential part of the program. The riders will be able to live and stay in one place while being transported to the starting line. It is unique," Dybdal said.

    Hushovd, of Garmin-Cervelo,was enthusiastic about the project. “I know there are many foreign riders who like Norway and want to go there and see the country. The midnight sun, for example, is world-renowned. I think it would be great for the riders and television viewers," he told TV 2 Sport.