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First Edition Cycling News, Monday, October 31, 2011

Date published:
October 31, 2011, 0:00 GMT
  • Cooke's Olympic preparations get an early boost

    Nicole Cooke (SC MCipollini Giordana) waits for the podium ceremony
    Article published:
    October 29, 2011, 13:49 BST
    Cycling News

    Defending champion prevails in Noosa GP

    Defending Olympic women's road race champion Nicole Cooke received a boost to her 2012 London Games preparations when she won Saturday's Subaru Noosa GP in Queensland, Australia.

    She beat a strong local field that included Commonwealth Games champion Rochelle Gilmore, Garmin-Cervelo pro Carla Ryan, the in-form Carlee Taylor and experienced sprinter Trudy Van Der Straaten

    For Cooke the Subaru Cycling Grand Prix marked the beginning of her campaign to defend her Olympic crown in London. Her World Championships campaign this year wasn't what had been hoping for, with fourth place in Copenhagen, although this weekend's win is the best start to the pre-season.

    "It's a great start to the Olympic campaign," she said. "I've had a break since the world championships and arrived in Perth a few weeks ago, where my brother lives.

    "That [Perth] will be my base for the Australian summer and this is the first weekend of my pre-season training so it's off to a very good start."

    Cooke won from a breakaway group of five, taking the sprint ahead of van der Straaten, with her teammate Peta Mullens rounding out the podium in third. And she credited the talented Victorian for her valuable work in the finale.

    "My teammate Peta [Mullens] won this event last year and she lead me out here and totally sacrificed her place for me," Cooke said.

  • Verbeke ok to ride in 2012, but where?

    Grace Verbeke on the podium.
    Article published:
    October 29, 2011, 15:25 BST
    Cycling News

    Injured rider announces surprise transfer

    Grace Verbeke's injuries are not serious enough to keep her from riding in the coming season, but she has started a controversy as to where she will ride in 2012. The Belgian was hit by a light truck this week while training.

    “Fortunately my injuries aren't too bad,” she told Het Nieuwsblad. “I have a broken eye socket, cuts and a bruised pelvis.”

    Explaining how it happened, she said. “I didn't hear him and saw him too late.  When I suddenly saw him, I reflexively reacted. Otherwise I would definitely have ended up under his wheels.”

    The injuries do not endanger her career. “Fortunately, because next year I am leaving Topsport Vlaanderen for the new Belgian-Italian Kleo Ladies team led by Heidi Van de Vijver.”

    That was unexpected and unpleasant news for Topsport Vlaanderen. “I'd rather not discuss it,” team manager Christel Herremans said. “That is food for the lawyers. Verbeke had a contract  for 2011 with an option for 2012 under certain conditions. She can't just leave the team, even if she wants to.  Contract is contract.”

    Verbeke's friend, Stijn Lootens admitted that the announcement was premature. “Actually it was not intended that the news about her transfer become known. “Grace wants to go to Kleo Ladies Team and is convinced she will be there in 2012. How all this would be regulated is currently being reviewed.”

    There is no doubt that Kleo Ladies want Verbeke. The formerly only moderately successful Italian team in June hired Belgian Van de Vijver to run things. “Initially the team...

  • New Norwegian rider and sponsor for Christina Watches

    Michael Blaudzun, Christina Hembo and Michael Rasmussen
    Article published:
    October 30, 2011, 9:10 GMT
    Cycling News

    First step towards Danish-Norwegian Tour de France team

    Team Christina Watches-Ofone wants to eventually turn itself into an all-star Scandinavian team, “that can win the Tour de France.” To further this goal, the team has signed a new Norwegian “star rider” and “major sponsor” from the same country, announced at a press conference yesterday.

    Fredrik Wilmann,a 26-year-old with six years' experience at the Continental level with the team now called Joker-Merida and a one-year stay in 2010 with Professional Continental-ranked Skil-Shimano will headline the squad's roster. According to Danish media, he was not offered a new contract with Joker-Merida for the coming year as they were not satisfied with his performance.

    Christina Watches team owner Christina Hembo sees him in a different light: “Wilmann has had a tremendous year and has on several occasions put our team in its place, therefore he has long been on our wish list. He is a rising star, and is certainly one of the best Norwegian riders,” she said at the press conference Saturday evening in Herning, according to

    “He has significant victories in many UCI races - that says the most about him,” she continued. This season he won the Rogaland Grand Prix and Norefjell GP. In 2009 he won the overall title in the Mi-Aout Bretonne and a stage at the Tour Alsace.

    Wilmann was happy with his new team. “This is a strong team with big ambitions, with the best framework and a strong sports director in Michael Blaudzun," he said. "The opportunities for development are great and it was important that I should choose this team. I think that both I and the team will have great success in 2012 and I am looking forward to it enormously.”

    The new sponsor is Proteinfabrikken, a...

  • Aldag, Schaffrath to Quick Step, says Martin

    Rolf Aldag chats at the start.
    Article published:
    October 30, 2011, 10:41 GMT
    Cycling News

    Aldag as technical advisor

    More HTC-Highroad personnel will be joining Omega Pharma-Quick Step in 2012, as Rolf Aldag will be an advisor to the team and Jan Schaffrath will join as a directeur sportif. Two physiotherapists from the American -based team are making the move, as are five riders, including ime trial world champion Tony Martin.

    Aldag is said to come to the team as a technical advisor, but denied that any agreement has been reached. “I gladly take care of Tony and his affairs. Next year he will need a lot of support,” he told the SID news agency.

    The German had served as team manager at Highroad since 2007 and recently announced that he had accepted a position as the managing director for Germany at the World Triathlon Corporation.

    “Aldag is one of the best team bosses in the world,” Martin told the dpa news agency. “Rolf has already given important suggestions.” He added, “I am very happy that Rolf will still be at my side.”

    His main goal for the coming year is the Olympic Games in London, despite the temptation of  riding the Tour de France. “Even though the Tour course with three time trials and fewer mountains is especially good for me, I don't want to toss out my planning to not focus on the overall placing over the next two or three years.

    “I will pick out the time trials – the prologue in Liege should be good for me.”

  • Sastre says goodbye with a win

    Carlos Sastre (Geox-TMC) wants a big performance in this Vuelta a Espana.
    Article published:
    October 30, 2011, 15:31 GMT
    Cycling News

    Former Tour winner bows out

    Carlos Sastre ended his 14-year career with win in yesterday's Criterium of Oviedo. "It was a very special day for everything - for the environment I've lived in, for the reception of my peers... they can say goodbye by making me feel appreciated after all this time fighting out on the road," said Sastre. "The truth is that it was an exciting day that I really enjoyed."

    The 36-year-old from Madrid, whose career highlight was undoubtedly an overall win in the 2008 Tour de France, announced his retirement a few weeks ago and was happy to be bowing out. "It's time to  say goodbye to many years of suffering, defeats, joys, a lot of experiences, all of them memorable - the truth is that I am happy I made the decision. I've been in professional cycling all these years and, especially, have been able to shine and do what I liked," he continued.

    Sastre won't be completely walking away from the sport, however. "From January 1 there will open a small parenthesis in my life, but I want so much to continue to be involved in this sport, in one way or other in the near future I will be.

    "In the short term I will continue working as I have done so far with the Foundation Víctor Sastre, without any responsibility, as a hobby, but enjoying time with children and other cyclists without so much stress, and with all those who have been to me a stimulus for improvement and learning.

    "The truth is that I feel happy because it has been a very good time, very important in my life, both personally and sporting. Saying goodbye to the homage of my colleagues, having been on the podium of the Tour of Spain with my own team has been very special to me. Thanks and a big hug to everyone," added Sastre.

  • NSW criterium GP series forced to go down to only two events

    The men's peloton spent much of the race strung out due to the high speed set at the front.
    Article published:
    October 31, 2011, 0:00 GMT
    Cycling News

    Organiser Phil Bates hopes series will expand in again in 2012

    The NSW criterium Grand Prix series has been forced to scale back their initial five-event schedule initially slated to start on the 23rd of November in Bathurst, due to a lack of financial support from the NSW state government.

    After a long period of discussions between the related parties, the decision needed to be made to sustain the viability of the headline events in Wollongong and Cronulla. There had been some hope that the Bathurst event would also remain but the costs proved to be too prohibitive.

    "It is disappointing that we could not include some excellent venues of last year, especially Bathurst, Parramatta and Gosford - that was conducted under lights," said organiser Phil Bates. "But a large reduction in funding from the NSW Government prevented us from doing anything but a two race series.

    "The most important aspect from our perspective is to maintain an international cycling series in NSW – something that has been missing since the demise of the Women’s World Cup and Tour de Snowy in 2002 and the final staging of the Commonwealth Bank Cycle Classic in 2000, after 19 years of great racing that gave wonderful development to the sport in NSW."

    The series will once again be covered comprehensively by the Nine Network with two hours of national live coverage on both the Saturday and Sunday.

    "We are in the process of contacting professional stars and internationals as we speak and have also decided to add the Masters category for the first time this year."

    The venues of both Cronulla and Wollongong are spectacular locations – Wollongong at Flagstaff Hill and surrounded by ocean, surf and a boat harbour. The 660 metre circuit was a highlight during the Cycle Classic era.

    The organisers are seeking interest from the Women, Men and Masters competitors and should direct their enquiries to Phill Bates Sports Promotions on phone 02 95705556 or

  • Guardini must develop, says Cipollini

    Mario Cipollini rode the course
    Article published:
    October 31, 2011, 10:04 GMT
    Cycling News

    Lion King joins young Italian sprinters on the track in Japan

    Mario Cipollini believes that Andrea Guardini must work on his weaknesses if he is to continue his development into one of the top sprinters in cycling. Guardini (Farnese Vini-Neri Sottoli) enjoyed a sparkling debut season as a professional, but Cipollini warned that he still has margin for improvement in many departments.

    “Andrea has shown what he’s made of in his first year as a professional,” Cipollini told Gazzetta dello Sport. “Now he needs a quiet winter to understand what he has to do in the future. I think that he needs to transform his physique, considerably increase his endurance and improve a lot in the climbs, even if it comes at the cost of losing something from his enormous turn of pace.”

    While Guardini’s devastating burst of speed in the finishing straight saw him snare 11 victories over the course of the season, he struggled when the road went uphill, particularly at the Settimana Lombarda, when he finished outside the time limit on the opening stage. Cipollini is adamant that he must continue to develop in order to be able to win more difficult races. The 22-year-old Guardini is expected to make his Giro d'Italia debut in 2012.

    “He has to do it if he wants to become a champion, otherwise his objectives are limited,” Cipollini said. “But he has age on his side.”

    Ultimately, Cipollini believes that Guardini can follow in the wheel tracks of other explosive sprinters with track backgrounds at Milan-San Remo.

    “If Cavendish and Goss can win San Remo, then Guardini can aim for it too. But he has to do that work I was talking about,” he noted.

    Cipollini was speaking from Japan, where he took part in an Olympic sprint with Guardini and Elia...

  • Duarte moves to Coldeportes Colombia

    Fabio Duarte (Geox-TMC) takes his first victory of the 2011 season at the Giro del Trentino.
    Article published:
    October 31, 2011, 11:13 GMT
    Peter Cossins

    Ex-U23 world champion to lead new Colombian Pro Continental team

    Fabio Duarte has become the first of Geox’s big-name riders to find a berth on a new team in the wake of the Italian shoemaker’s unexpected decision to quit the sport at the end of this season. The 25-year-old Colombian is moving to the new Coldeportes-Colombia squad that will be managed by experienced Italian director Claudio Corti.

    Winner of the world under-23 road title in 2008, Duarte had received interest from a number of teams after a season during which he won a stage of the Tour of Trentino and finished second on a stage of the Giro d’Italia. After being laid up for two months following a crash at the Giro, Duarte returned to action late in the season and was a member of the Geox-TMC team that helped Juan José Cobo take the overall title at the Vuelta a España and win the team prize at the same race.

    “Duarte’s arrival represents an important step for us and I am happy to see how the rider has taken on board what we are trying to do and shown his belief in this project despite some significant offers from other teams,” said Corti. The Italian team manager added that the team will be releasing more details on its line-up in the next few days.

    Backed by the Colombian Institute of Sport, the Coldeportes team will feature established and also emerging Colombian riders, with punchy all-rounder Duarte as one of its leaders. The team has applied for a Professional Continental licence and will be looking to compete at top events in Europe as well as in North and Latin America. The set-up also looks likely to feature a Continental “feeder” team.

    Corti’s management team includes former ONCE pro and Tour de France stage winner Oliverio Rincón, who will act as director at European races, while former Kelme stalwart...