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First Edition Cycling News, Monday, June 18, 2012

Date published:
June 18, 2012, 1:00 BST
  • Löfkvist's Tour de France in doubt

    Thomas Lövkvist (Team Sky)
    Article published:
    June 18, 2012, 4:11 BST
    Cycling News

    Sky's general classification hopes fade at Tour de Suisse

    Thomas Löfkvist (Sky Procycling) was sitting one place shy of a top-10 result in the general classification coming into Sunday’s final stage of the Tour de Suisse from Näfels-Lintharena to Sörenberg. The 215.8km route featured no less than three major climbs and culminating with a category two up to the finishing in Sörenberg.

    The mountain finish proved too much for Löfkvist who had developed knee trouble throughout the week and could not follow the front group. He was guided to the finish by his teammates Michael Barry and Lars Petter Nordhaug almost nine-minutes behind the stage winner, Tanel Kangert (Pro Team Astana).

    "It looked good with Thomas until the last climb but he's just been struggling a bit with a knee problem and it was really hurting today," Team Sky's Sports Director Marcus Ljungqvist told the Team Sky website.

    Löfkvist had slowly dropped down the classification after his disappointing ride in the stage 7 time trial where he finished in 30th-place and behind Frank Schleck (RadioShack-Nissan).

    "The rest of the team did exactly what was asked of them; it's just a real shame for Thomas and I feel sorry for him because he is in really good shape. He thought it was okay for today but it was too painful and it kind of stopped him," said Ljungqvist.

    With the Tour de France just weeks away, Löfkvist will have to prove his preparation is still on track in order to be called into the nine-man squad which has multiple goals with Bradley Wiggins and Mark Cavendish. It would be the sixth Tour start for the 28-year-old who understands that his own general classification ambitions will have to be put aside if the team is to achieve...

  • Schleck doesn't want captain's role at Tour de France

    Final Suisse podium: Frank Schleck (RadioShack), Rui Costa (Movistar), Levi Leipheimer (Omega Pharma Quickstep)
    Article published:
    June 18, 2012, 10:13 BST
    Cycling News

    Andersen says Luxembourger can't maintain form so long

    Fränk Schleck has answered his critics by finishing second in the Tour de Suisse, after dropping out of the Giro d'Italia. But the RadioShack-Nissan rider doesn't necessarily expect his good form to hold out for the Tour de France, which starts in less than two weeks – and neither does his sport director.

    At the Tour, “I don't want to be captain. I can't continue to perform at top level,” he told Het Nieuwsblad.

    Sport Director Kim Andersen echoed those thoughts. “I've obviously heard predictions that Fränk with his current form has a good chance to be in the showdown for the win, but to pin your hopes on it seems to me crazy,” he told

    “It should be remembered that Fränk has competed at a high level ever since the start of Giro d'Italia in early May, so it's completely unrealistic to believe that he can compete among the best in the Tour over three weeks in July.”

    Schleck said that he did not see Suisse as a preparation for the Tour. “No, absolutely not,” he told Het Nieuwsblad.  “I did the preparation for the Ardennes classics, then I went unexpectedly to the Giro.”  He noted, “I'm not a machine. You should be realistic. I am already very lean and in great shape, I can not continue to maintain this level.”

    He even cited Alberto Contador as “the best proof” of the difficulty. “Last year he won the Giro and for that he paid a price in the Tour. He was not strong enough and he has not even raced between the Giro and the Tour, as I now do.”

    In addition, “I don't want to be named as the leader, because if I put in a disappointing performance, then everyone can...

  • Hoogerland aiming for mountains jersey at Tour de France

    Johnny Hoogerland (Vacansoleil-DCM) kept the polka-dot jersey for another day.
    Article published:
    June 18, 2012, 11:31 BST
    Cycling News

    Vacansoleil-DCM rider wore polka dots for five stages in 2011

    Johnny Hoogerland didn't rack up a single mountain point at the Tour de Suisse, but he is planning to take the polka-dot jersey at the upcoming Tour de France. The Vacansoleil-DCM rider wore that jersey for five stages at last year's Tour.

    “More than last year, I have put my mind to the mountain jersey, although I know that it is not easy,” he told De Telegraaf. “You need luck and a couple of times a good offense. There are a few stages where you can pick up a lot of points.”

    Hoogerland finished 56th in Switzerland. “I got the kilometers that I needed to improve. That was successful. Now a few days rest and then with the team to try and make something good at the national road championships.”

    The Dutchman had worn the King of the Mountains jersey for several stages earlier in the 2011 Tour, and regained it on the dramatic ninth stage – which also nearly saw the end of his Tour. As part of an escape group, Hoogerland had won points on all six climbs of the day to regain the jersey.

    But with only 36 km to go, a media car hit breakaway companion Juan Antonio Flecha of Team Sky. Hoogerland subsequently crashed into the Spaniard and was himself catapulted onto a barbed wire fence. 

    Both riders finished the stage, and Hoogerland accepted the polka dot jersey with extensive bandages on his legs and tears in his eyes.

    Although he rode the Tour to the end, the injuries were too severe to allow him to continue to climb well, and he lost the jersey again only two stages later.

    “In 2011 it wasn't really a goal, but it happened. It was a shame I never got the...

  • Five Team Sky riders to British national road race

    Alex Dowsett wears his special blood red Oakleys in support of World Haemophilia Day
    Article published:
    June 18, 2012, 12:30 BST
    Cycling News

    Wiggins, Cavendish and other top names not participating

    Five of Team Sky's riders will participate in the British national road championships this weekend, but none of the biggest names will be there. Bradley Wiggins, Mark Cavendish, Chris Froome, Peter Kennaugh and 2010 national champion Geraint Thomas will all pass it over.

    That leaves it to Alex Dowsett, Jeremy Hunt, Luke Rowe, Ian Stannard and Ben Swift to represent the team at the road race on Sunday, June 25, in Ampleforth, North Yorkshire. Dowsett is currently the national time trial champion, and the 38-year-old Hunt previously won the road title in 1997 and 2001.

    “The riders that have entered this year are all looking forward to it and every one of them will be going all-out to take the victory,” said race coach Rod Ellingworth in a team press release. “It's an honour to wear the national colours and if a Team Sky rider can make it three wins from three, it'll be a massive achievement.”

    Reigning champion Wiggins, Froome and Cavendish are preparing for the Tour de France, whilst Kennaugh and Thomas “are now mid-way through a crucial block of Olympic track training,” said  Ellingworth.

    “In an ideal world we'd have our full British contingent competing, but with the Tour de France and Olympics now very much on the horizon, it simply isn't possible.”

  • Boonen happy with Tour de Suisse performance

    Tom Boonen (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) took second in the day's sprint finish.
    Article published:
    June 18, 2012, 14:15 BST
    Cycling News

    Omega Pharma-QuickStep rider confident for Belgian nationals

    Tom Boonen rode a fairly anonymous Tour de Suisse and abandoned with only 80km left in the race on Sunday. But the Omega Pharma-QuickStep rider is satisfied with his performance and looking forward to the upcoming Belgian national championships on Sunday.

    His abandonment was planned. “I had to get my flight at 8pm,” he told Het Nieuwsblad. “After the finish it was a two hour drive to Zürich.”

    However, “the important thing is that I've ridden many miles and sat on the bike for many hours. I feel good and that gives me confidence for the Belgian championship on Sunday.”

    Riding Suisse is “always weird,” Boonen noted. “It is a preparation for what follows but you don't want to take too many risks.”

    He will take it easy this week, skipping the Halle-Ingooigem race on Wednesday. “Monday and Tuesday I will rest. I suspect I will be refreshed again by Wednesday. Then I will get two good training sessions in. 

    “I look forward to the Belgian championship. It is in Geel, and so a home game, which is an added incentive.”

    Boonen has won the national title once, in 2009. This year he is skipping the Tour de France to concentrate on the London 2012 Olympics.

  • David Millar lifted by initial Olympic road race selection

    David Millar (Garmin-Barracuda)
    Article published:
    June 18, 2012, 15:32 BST
    Cycling News

    British rider understands position of those opposing his inclusion

    Having been named on the initial eight-man selection list for the men's road race at the London 2012 Olympic Games, British cyclist David Millar has admitted that he feels as if the "final handcuff" has been removed from him.

    The Garmin-Barracuda man recently had a lifetime Olympic ban overturned, which made him eligible for selection to the Games. In 2004 he admitted to EPO use and was immediately banned for life by the British Olympic Association, but that ban was deemed unlawful by the Court of Arbitration for Sport in April.

    Last Wednesday, Millar, who has been an active and outspoken anti-doping campaigner since his ban, was named on the Team GB long list alongside the likes of Mark Cavendish and Bradley Wiggins - something that a few months ago did not seem possible. That long list of eight will be reduced to five rubber-stamped team members at the end of June.

    “For eight years, I’d been through it all – bans, sanctions, being ostracised, legal problems – and the only thing left to hang over me was my lifetime Olympic ban and I didn’t realise how much I hated living with it until it was actually lifted," Millar told the Daily Telegraph. “It was like taking off the final handcuff.”

    Millar said he understands the vocal opposition of riders like Great Britain's four-time Olympic gold medallist Sir Chris Hoy, who will head to London in August hoping for more success on the track. In the past Hoy has been explicit in his support for lifetime bans for drug cheats but

  • Posthuma ready to return to a Dutch team in 2013

    Joost Posthuma (RadioShack Nissan)
    Article published:
    June 18, 2012, 17:54 BST
    Cycling News

    Wants to ride for himself in races

    Joost Posthuma is ready to come home. After two years away, he wants to ride for a Dutch team again in 2013. He previously rode for Rabobank, on both the Continental and WorldTour teams, from 2002 to 2010.

    In 2011, he transferred to Leopard Trek, and is with RadioShack-Nissan this year, which he counts as “foreign” teams. “I've now had two years experience abroad,” he told broadcaster "But the Dutch mentality appeals to me more. You can get your own opportunities there.I am now 31 years old and want to have some good results for myself.”

    Posthuma had a virus that kept him out of the Criterium du Dauphine. He has not ridden much this season, but his most recent outing was an eighth place overall in the Bayern Rundfahrt. His plans for the rest of the season include the Tour of Poland, the Eneco Tour and the Vuelta a Espana.

  • Horner chosen for RadioShack-Nissan Tour de France team

    Article published:
    June 18, 2012, 19:09 BST
    Cycling News

    American a surprise addition after being left off long list

    American Chris Horner will be a part of the RadioShack-Nissan team for the Tour de France after all. The squad announced its nine riders for the race, which begins on June 30 in Liège, Belgium today.

    Horner was initially left off the RadioShack-Nissan long team for the Tour after he decided to skip both the Critérium du Dauphiné and Tour de Suisse, two important preparation races for the Grand Tour, because he was lacking form after taking time to rehabilitate a back injury.

    Last week he told Cyclingnews that his back was fully healed and he was sending his training files to the team directors as proof that he is ready for the Tour.

    In addition to Horner, the team will be represented by Fabian Cancellara, Tony Gallopin, Andreas Klöden, Maxime Monfort, Yaroslav Popovych, Fränk Schleck, Jens Voigt and Haimar Zubeldia.

    Since newly declared 2010 Tour de France champion Andy Schleck is out of the race with a fractured sacrum, sustained during the Critérium du Dauphiné, and his brother Fränk is declining the role as leader citing fatigue after his second place in the Tour de Suisse, Horner could be one of the team's GC leaders for the Tour de France.