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First Edition Cycling News, Monday, March 7, 2011

Date published:
March 07, 2011, 0:00 GMT
  • Le Mével back on form for Paris-Nice after broken wrist

    Christophe Le Mével has recovered from a broken wrist.
    Article published:
    March 06, 2011, 22:15 GMT
    Jean-François Quénet

    Frenchman eyes overall result at Giro d’Italia

    Forced to pull out from the Tour of the Mediterranean with a broken wrist last month, Christophe Le Mével has recovered on time for Paris-Nice, which was his first goal for the 2011 season since he transferred from FDJ to Garmin-Cervélo.

    "I've had a very hard week with no training at all," said the Frenchman who wore a splint after the crash. "I rode the Tour du Haut-Var but mostly to please the organiser as I was the defending champion. It didn't go well at all. Fortunately, in the past two weeks, I've done exactly the training I wanted to. The positive feelings on the bike are back. The tests I underwent let me know where I stand. I hope for staying out of troubles in the first few stages of Paris-Nice and come back strong at the end of the week."

    Two years ago, Le Mével finished tenth overall at Paris-Nice prior to getting the same result at the Dauphiné and the Tour de France but his 2010 season was more troublesome. It started with two spectacular crashes at Paris-Nice. He finished on a good note at FDJ with a fifteenth place overall at the Vuelta a Espana.

    "I feel super at Garmin-Cervélo", he told Cyclingnews on the start line of stage 1 of Paris-Nice in Houdan. "I've fit in very quickly in the group. I haven't done many races yet but I'm looking forward to do more and more with this team. I want to show that I have my place there."

    "My main target will be to finish the Giro d'Italia in the top 10", he announced. "If for some reason, I'd lose positions, then I'd try to get another stage win there." In 2005, Le Mével won stage 17 of the Giro d'Italia while riding for Crédit Agricole. He also met Laura who is now his wife. "Italy is my second...

  • Peanut Butter & Co Twenty12 garners early season win at Merco Cycling Classic

    Olivia Dillon rides at the front during the first stage of the Merco Cycling Classic
    Article published:
    March 07, 2011, 5:41 GMT
    Kirsten Frattini

    Armstrong returns to contest NRC stage races; targets World Time Trial title

    US-based UCI team Peanut Butter & Co Twenty12 extended its early season training camp into the Merco Cycling Classic where Alison Starnes captured the overall title on Sunday in Merced, California. Former World Time Trial Champion, Kristin Armstrong returns to professional bike racing at the end of the month and aims to help her team in its quest to win a series of National Racing Calendar (NRC) stage races beginning at the Redlands Bicycle Classic.

    "It is amazing when you visualize what you want and are specific with your goals, it was always a goal of mine to work with her and now, she is a partner of the team, she was directing the team and now is racing on the team," said General Manager Nicola Cranmer. "It is great and she has so much to offer these young athletes. She is focused on her personal goals and she is a mother which is top priority plus she wants to extend herself to the athletes."

    Peanut Butter & Co Twenty12 met at a pre-season training camp held from February 24 to March 1 in Mill Valley, California. The team met with representatives from its sponsors Felt Bicycles, SRAM Components and Pearl Izumi.

    "The real purpose of camp for us was to introduce the riders to the sponsors," said General Manager Nicola Cranmer. "It was really about learning the new equipment and that was our priority. We have a lot of new sponsors and have assembled the best team sponsors. The support we are getting from them is incredible. The girls were training all winter and so by the time they get to camp they are already on good form but it was the only time where all the team members will be in one place at the same time."

    Following camp, the team's new addition Alison Starnes won the season opener at the Merco Cycling Classic four-stage race ahead of...

  • Second-placed Roy "testing" in Paris-Nice

    Jérémy Roy (Fra) FDJ on the attack
    Article published:
    March 07, 2011, 9:20 GMT
    Cycling News

    FDJ rider ready to work for team leaders Casar and Fédrigo

    Jérémy Roy from the FDJ team came extremely close to a stage victory and the yellow jersey in Paris-Nice's stage one yesterday, but still affirmed his condition was not very good. In a stage finale where a three-men trio, incuding himself, the later winner Thomas De Gendt and Jens Voigt, held off a charging bunch on the very last metres, Roy's performance was outstanding but the Frenchman still played it down.

    "My feelings were... not so great. I attacked to test myself and we ended up being three good rouleurs in front," the winner of the 2010 GP La Marseillaise told L'Equipe. "We had to be in good company and this was the case with Voigt. Then, with the wind, the teams that rode all day were tired in the finale. Myself, I lacked a bit of strength, I gave it everything in the finish but I had to give in to someone stronger than myself."

    While De Gendt (Vacansoleil) found the resources to finish off the job and take the victory just metres ahead of the sprinters, Roy's lack of final speed could be down to a recent crash at the Boucles du Sud-Ardèche on February 27.

    "My helmet exploded with the impact," he recalled. "My hip and knee made me suffer terribly but I did some ultrasound therapy for two days and this was apparently effective. I didn't have very good legs. I only decided to come to Paris-Nice last Thursday - I didn't even know where I stand but in the end it's not too bad."

    Now, Roy will put himself to the service of his team leaders Sandy Casar and Pierrick Fédrigo, "whose ojectives are the general classification." Looking ahead to Monday's stage two through the plains of the Loiret department, the 27-year-old predicted more...

  • Riis compares Contador to Merckx, Hinault and Armstrong

    Alberto Contador (Saxo Bank Sungard) heads to the win in Murcia.
    Article published:
    March 07, 2011, 10:17 GMT
    Cycling News

    Saxo Bank-SunGard manager reveals TT postion improvements

    Saxo Bank-SunGard team manager Bjarne Riis has compared Alberto Contador to some of the most successful riders in the history of the sport after he dominated the Vuelta a Murcia with stage victories on the uphill finish and the final time trial.

    The three-day Spanish race was only Contador’s second stage race since being cleared of doping in Spain and the UCI has to still to decide on an appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport. However, Riis was not afraid to praise Contador.

    “Contador is the strongest rider I’ve ever had in my team. Alberto is of the same calibre as Merckx, Armstrong, Hinault and Indurain,” Riis told Gazzetta dello Sport, implying that the Spaniard is better than his former protégés such as Ivan Basso, Andy Schleck, Carlos Sastre and Tyler Hamilton.

    “He’s a fantastic climber because he’s an animal on the climbs and then in time trials, he manages to put out virtually the same amount of power.”

    Contador covered the 12.4km time trial in Murcia at an average of 52.518km/h. Gazzetta estimated that Contador must have produced between 430 and 440 watts of power to go so fast. Riis was careful not to reveal Contador’s physiological data, preferring to point out the work he has done with the Spaniard to make him even more aerodynamic.

    “In time trials it’s not about the power but about aerodynamics,” he insisted.

    “Contador had a good position but I’d had a few things in mind ever since last year’s Tour de France. This winter...

  • BMC head to Tirreno-Adriatico with two former podium finishers

    Alessandro Ballan (BMC) at the start.
    Article published:
    March 07, 2011, 11:14 GMT
    Cycling News

    Leadership to be decided after team time trial

    The 16.8-kilometer team time trial that kicks off Tirreno-Adriatico on Wednesday will set the tone for the American BMC squad in the seven-day race, according to assistant director Fabio Baldato.

    The team's roster includes two riders who have finished third in the 'race between the seas' before, with Cadel Evans achieving a podium place in 2010 and Alessandro Ballan in 2006. Depending on the riders' performance at the collective race against the clock, the team will establish its overall strategy at the event finishing in San Benedetto del Tronto next Tuesday, March 15.

    "After the team time trial, we can see which one of our riders has the best chance to go for the general classification," Baldato said. Former world champion Evans agreed: "I would like to be able to a good team time trial. From there, we'll see. I don't have any high expectations, but I won't be bad, either."

    The other former world champion of th team, Ballan, could also emerge as the man to lead as he finished second at the Monte Paschi Strade Bianche last week-end, showing excellent form.

    The two leaders will be joined by Tour de France stage winners George Hincapie and Marcus Burghardt, as well as time trial specialists Manuel Quinziato and Michael Schär. Mauro Santambrogio and Greg Van Avermaet round out the eight-man roster at the start line in Marina di Carrara.

  • Team Type 1 impresses at Montepaschi Strade Bianche

    A Team Type 1 BMW team car.
    Article published:
    March 07, 2011, 11:35 GMT
    Cycling News

    Kocjan fourth overall and Verschoor strong

    The Montepaschi Strade Bianche was a successful race for Team Type 1, with Jure Kocjan finishing fourth and Martijn Verschoor, who has type 1 diabetes, also performing well.

    Kocjan finished just a few seconds behind winner Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma-Lotto) after being in the key selection of riders that emerged at the end of the 190km race, which includes 60km on the famous Tuscan dirt roads.

    "In the last 15km I was watching Cunego and (Italian national champion Giovanni) Visconti because I knew they were strong at the finish,” Kocjan said in a team press release. “Some other teams missed the break, and I knew they would chase hard, so it was the perfect option to wait behind those guys for the sprint."

    “The last climb into Siena was 300 metres uphill, and then a right turn. I was very happy to be in such good company, but I have never felt fatigue like that on a bicycle."

    Team Type 1 director sportif Vassili Davidenko called the Montepaschi Strade Bianche “a brutal race, a really tough day in the saddle. Lots of very talented riders were taken out by the hills or the roads or by bad luck. We kept our heads when the race picked up and had the right people in the right places when they needed to be there.”

    He also pointed to Martijn Verschoor as being “exceptionally strong” in the race, although the American did not finish. Verschoor has type 1 diabetes and must constantly monitor his blood glucose level, which he did before, during and after the race.

    Early on his blood glucose level was good, at 175, but fell to 120 halfway through. "I ate some food when I was at 120 and that brought me up to around 220 at...

  • NetApp excited at Paris-Roubaix prospect

    Team NetApp 2011
    Article published:
    March 07, 2011, 12:49 GMT
    Cycling News

    German team highly motivated for its first World Tour event

    German Professional Continental team NetApp has been invited to race this year's Paris-Roubaix on April 10. The 'Hell of the North' will be the first World Tour event for the young squad, and it is with great excitement that the outfit managed by Ralph Denk prepares to show itself in the best possible way for the one-day Classic.

    "This invitation is a great honour for us, it's the result of our work in the last few months that we are allowed to present ourselves at this particular Classic. Paris-Roubaix will be the highlight of our Classics phase," said Denk. "I want to thank [race organiser] ASO for their trust.

    "The whole team is euphoric and looks very much forward to the famous 'pavés'. We will be highly motivated at the start. But we measure our chances realistically - it will be hard to play a role in the finale. That's why we want to show ourselves early."

    NetApp features several Classics specialists and even two former winners of the Espoir and Junior versions of Paris-Roubaix. German Eric Baumann won the U23 race in the year 2000, and Swiss U23 champion Michael Baer took the victory in the 2005 Junior event. But Denk knew that these accomplichments meant only very little in the light of the pro riders' race.

    "The Elite race takes place on a different level. For our preparation, it's important that we have riders like Enrico Poitschke, Jesus del Nero and Steven Cozza that have raced the 'Hell of the North' during the last five years. There is probably no other race like this one where route knowledge is as important," Denk added.

    Still, the team manager did not exclude any surprises for his riders, as the Queen of the Classics is known to be a particularly treacherous race. "Luck will be a major factor during the race: the right group in the right sector and...

  • Giro d’Italia: RCS Sport invites 23 teams

    The 2011 Giro d'Italia route
    Article published:
    March 07, 2011, 13:10 GMT
    Cycling News

    UCI allows 207 to ride the first Grand Tour of 2011

    The organisers of the Giro d’Italia have announced that 23 teams have been invited to ride this year’s race, with which mean a total of 207 riders will ride the race.

    RCS Sport has invited the 18 ProTeams and given five other invitations to Geox-TMC, Androni Giocattoli, Farnese Vini-Neri Sottoli, Colnago-CSF Inox and Acqua & Sapone.

    Despite being hit by two major scandals involving key riders, the Vacansoleil team in amongst the 18 ProTeams invited to the Giro.

    RCS Sport made the announcement exactly two months before this year’s Giro d’Italia starts in Turin on May 7. The UCI has given RCS Sport special permission to exceed the limit of 200 riders normally allowed for major races. Each of the 23 teams will field nine riders.

    The 23 teams invited to this year’s Giro d’Italia:

    AG2R La Mondiale (Fra)
    BMC Racing Team (Usa)
    Euskaltel-Euskadi (Spa)
    HTC-Highroad (Usa)
    Katusha Team (Rus)
    Lampre-ISD (Ita)
    Leopard-Trek (Lux)
    Liquigas-Cannondale (Ita)
    Movistar Team (Spa)