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First Edition Cycling News, Monday, November 28, 2011

Date published:
November 28, 2011, 0:00 GMT
  • Astana training camp to start on Monday

    The Astana team pose for many photos after their success in Hainan.
    Article published:
    November 25, 2011, 18:43 GMT
    Cycling News

    Team to train in both Italy and Spain ahead of 2012 season

    UCI WorldTour team Astana has revealed that its 2012 preseason training camp will start on Monday, November 28 in Montecatini Terme, Italy. The Kazakh team will gather at the famous health resort in Tuscany for three days of initial training before moving on to Calpe, Spain, for a further nine days up to December 10.

    The squad, which will include off-season signings Kevin Seeldraeyers (Belgium) and Slovenian duo Borut Bozic and Janez Brajkovic, will be looking to make a fast start to 2012 after finishing in a disappointing 15th place in the rankings in 2011. The loss of Spanish star Alberto Contador was a key factor in their decline, with the team having finished in 3rd place in the 2010 rankings when Contador was still part of their roster and won the Tour de France.

  • Vinokourov a candidate in Kazakh elections

    Alexandre Vinokourov in attendance in Paris.
    Article published:
    November 26, 2011, 11:01 GMT
    Cycling News

    Astana rider unlikely to take up seat until after London 2012 Olympics

    Kazakhstan’s ruling Nur Otan party has named Alexandre Vinokourov among its list of candidates for the country’s forthcoming general election, which takes place on January 15.

    Vinokourov’s name was greeted with generous applause when it was announced before delegates on Friday during the unveiling of the party's 127 candidates. Nur Otan is currently the only party represented in the Mazhilis, the lower chamber of the Kazakh parliament.

    “It’s an honour for me to participate in the election as a candidate for a position as a deputy,” Vinokourov said, according to

    Kazakhstan uses a list system to elect its members of parliament, meaning that if elected, Vinokourov would not have to take up his seat immediately and could replace a sitting Nur Otan deputy at a later date.

    The Astana rider, who had previously announced that he would retire in 2011, is now expected to take part in the London 2012 Olympics and he hinted that he would not enter parliament until after he calls time on his controversial career.

    “I want to finish this year in the saddle, and maybe next year participate in the Olympic Games, concentrate on them and afterwards help Kazakhstan as I can,” Vinokourov said.

    Vinokourov took silver in the road race in Sydney in 2000, but missed the Beijing Olympics as he was serving a two-year suspension for blood doping. He is joined on the Nur Otan electoral list by two of Kazakhstan's gold medallists from Sydney, Olga Shishigina (100 metres hurdles) and Yermakhan Ibraimov (boxing).

    Nur Otan is widely expected to dominate the election and consolidate the...

  • Visconti happy to ride with Valverde

    Giovanni Visconti (Farnese Vini - Neri Sottoli)
    Article published:
    November 26, 2011, 12:36 GMT
    Cycling News

    Sicilian set for 2012 with Movistar

    New signing Giovanni Visconti has insisted that he is happy to share the reins of classics leadership at Movistar with Alejandro Valverde. The Spanish rider returns from suspension for his part in Operacion Puerto on January 1, and Visconti believes that the pair can dovetail their efforts next spring.

    “For me it’s better to have him as a teammate than as an adversary, the problem is going to be [Philippe] Gilbert,” Visconti told Biciciclismo. “It’s an honour to be at Valverde’s side, he’s a rider who shines from February to October. I really want to learn the tricks of how to ride the classics to win. It’s a unique opportunity.”

    Like Valverde, Visconti will build his spring around the Ardennes classics, but the Sicilian is also aiming to make an impact on the cobbles as he returns to a top flight team for the first time since 2008. “My objectives will be Amstel, Flèche and Liège, but this year I think I might also ride Harelbeke, Gent-Wevelgem and the Tour of Flanders. I want to try,” he said.

    The triple Italian champion turns 29 in January, and he is well aware that the time has come for him to make a serious impact in races longer than 200km, especially in April, and he believes that he has improved significantly since his last spell in the ProTour.

    “I feel that I have matured physically and mentally, I feel like I’m another rider,” Visconti said. “I think I can compete [in the Ardennes], if not win. I can be at the front right to the end and try to win.”

    Visconti joins Movistar from Farnese Vini, and he finished top of the UCI Europe Tour rankings in each of his three...

  • Rwanda targets a Continental team in 2012

    The Rwandan team took the overall team prize.
    Article published:
    November 26, 2011, 17:33 GMT
    Pierre Carrey

    The project would be the first sub-Saharan UCI team

    The Ferwacy, the Rwandan cycling federation, expects to launch a Continental team in 2012. "We have a meeting next month with the Minister for Sport and we will speak about the project," Aimable Bayingana, Ferwacy's president, told Cyclingnews on Saturday. "Ideally we would like to register our team for the 2012 season."

    Cycling in Rwanda is becoming more and more successful through its national team, which has been managed by former US pro rider Jock Boyer since 2007, and the Tour of Rwanda, which moved up to 2.2 level on the UCI calendar in 2009. A new 2.2 event has also been created this year, the Kwita Izina Cycling Tour.

    The country also has a number of competitive athletes, such as Adrian Niyunshuti, professional at MTN Qhubeka and a qualifier for the 2012 Olympics in mountain bike. Nathan Byukusenge was also part of the same team, while two young riders, Nicodem Habiyambere and Gasore Hategeka, trained at the UCI World Centre in Switzerland this season.

    "A Continental team is an interesting project as we would be automatically invited by the UCI to African races and could, one day, compete in Europe," Bayingana explained.

    Cyclingnews understands that half of the team’s roster would be made up of Rwandan riders and the other half would come from foreign countries, depending on their cycling federations' agreement. The Continental Rwandan squad might be particularly open to East African countries such as Kenya, Ethiopia, Eritrea, where riders have shown solid abilities in the last three years, notably in the mountains.

    The Rwandan technical director Boyer told Cyclingnews that their project could "help Rwanda to have a stronger squad and help the East African countries to develop in cycling." Team of Rwanda has a base in...

  • Basso seeking explanation for Italian ban on former dopers

    Ivan Basso (Liquigas-Cannondale)
    Article published:
    November 27, 2011, 10:37 GMT
    Cycling News

    Liquigas-Cannondale rider to write to federation

    Ivan Basso (Liquigas-Cannondale) is to write to the Italian Cycling Federation (FCI) seeking clarification on the reasoning behind its decision to bar former dopers from representing the country at the world championships.

    The measure, passed by the FCI’s federal council in June, prevents riders who have served doping bans of six months or more from representing Italy at international level and from competing in the national championships. Basso is among the riders affected by the by-law as he served a two-year suspension for his collaboration with blood doping doctor Eufemiano Fuentes in the wake of Operacion Puerto.

    “I’ll write a letter to the federation. It hurts me not to be able to ride the Italian championships or the Worlds,” Basso told Gazzetta dello Sport. “The ban angers me and it’s hard to explain. I need to understand the reasoning behind it. I’m always thinking about it, and whatever way you turn it, I find something that doesn’t square up.”

    Other riders to fall foul of the FCI measure include Michele Scarponi, Alessandro Petacchi, Davide Rebellin and Danilo Di Luca, with the latter even launching an unsuccessful legal bid to race the Italian championships in June.

    “I’ve contributed to cause harm to this sport and I am ashamed of it,” said Basso, who confessed only to having intended to dope under the supervision of Eufemiano Fuentes. “However, I’ve since contributed to do good, based on three principles – honesty, fairness and transparency. Now I need to understand why the federation is denying me these two races.

    “They must give me explanations, but they must be very...

  • Gilbert stars on the track at Ghent Six

    Article published:
    November 27, 2011, 12:57 GMT
    Cycling News

    Belgian champion beats Roelandts in pursuit

    Philippe Gilbert was guest of honour at the Saturday evening session of the Ghent Six, and the Belgian champion delighted the home crowds by taking part in a pursuit match against his Omega Pharma-Lotto teammate Jurgen Roelandts.

    Gilbert came out on top in the pursuit, recording a time of 3:43.50 for the race, and he explained afterwards that he had enjoyed the novel event.

    “Track cycling is a special discipline,” Gilbert told Sporza. “You could almost say that it’s not the same sport. There are huge differences between the track and the road but my first impression was positive.”

    Gilbert spent three days in Aigle, Switzerland earlier in the week as the UCI’s Athletes’ Commission met for the first time, and he used the opportunity to train on the track at the World Cycling Centre. Cyclingnews was on hand as Gilbert went through his paces on Wednesday morning in the company of Bernhard Eisel and paracyclist Jiri Jezek, and the world number one was clearly determined not to let his end down in Ghent.

    “I was particularly surprised by the pressure you feel on the bends, but I followed the advice to stick to the black line and so it wasn’t too bad,” he said on Saturday.

    Gilbert was set to travel back to his home in Monaco on Sunday afternoon as he turns his attention to the 2012 season. His work on the road begins in earnest this week ahead of his first training camp with his new BMC team near Calpe, from December 5th to 16th.

  • Euskaltel-Euskadi worth WorldTour place, says Sanchez

    Sammy Sanchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi) at the team introductions.
    Article published:
    November 27, 2011, 20:00 GMT
    Cycling News

    Spaniard regrets Gonzalez de Galdeano departure

    Samuel Sanchez was in little doubt that his Euskaltel-Euskadi team would be granted WorldTour status for 2012. The Basque team’s presence in cycling’s top flight was only confirmed by the UCI early last week, but Sanchez was confident that the outfit was deserving of a place both for its performances on the road and the large following it attracts.

    “It would have been strange not to have been part of the WorldTour next year,” Sanchez told El Diario Vasco. “We’ve had the same uncertainty for the last two years, but I think that we rode the past season at a very high level.

    “We also have to appreciate what this team brings to cycling. I think that a team capable of bringing six thousand supporters to the Pyrenees and filling the roadsides at the Tour of the Basque Country deserves to be among the best.”

    While Euskatel-Euskadi manager Miguel Madariaga hinted that riders would have been free to leave had the squad failed to earn a WorldTour berth, Sanchez was adamant that he was going to remain with the Basque team regardless. “I wouldn’t have left Euskaltel-Euskadi,” he said.

    Sanchez expressed his regret at the sudden departure of erstwhile team manager Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano, who opted to step down from his position at the end of the 2011 season.

    “I respect his decision, but I told him that I was sad he was leaving,” Sanchez said. “I respect his decision because you have to respect it, but I didn’t agree with it. A lot of the things we have achieved have come about from the way he managed the team. He has been important to my career. He had a way of doing...

  • Video: Innocent Uwamungu, the rider who races with one eye

    The Rwandan team took the overall team prize.
    Article published:
    November 28, 2011, 0:25 GMT
    Pierre Carrey

    Having lost an eye in the summer, Rwandan cyclist just happy to be competing in his national tour

    Innocent Uwamungu, aka "Rocky", has a very special history: two months before the Tour of Rwanda while training for the this week's race with the national team, he lost his right eye.

    "One day was raining very hard and after a training ride, on the way back home, a stone [from work constructions, Ed] fluented to his eye and took it", Team of Rwanda's logistic manager, Kimberly Moszyk Coats, explained to Cyclingnews.

    Despite this freaky accident, the tough Uwamungu is racing an UCI 2.2 event where he went 10th in prologue last Sunday, 22 seconds behing Team Type 1-Sanofi's professional Kiel Reijnen, who also won overall.

    Even more surprisingly, "Rocky" is one of the best jokers of the team and laughs about everything, including his accident. He is never one to complain about his situation.

    See the full video interview with Uwamangu below.