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First Edition Cycling News, Monday, September 7, 2009

Date published:
September 07, 2009, 1:00 BST
  • Missouri's future beyond 2009 uncertain

    St Louis will host a circuit race this year
    Article published:
    September 07, 2009, 11:38 BST
    Peter Hymas

    Lt. Governor says "herculean effort" to ensure 2010 event

    While the prestige and stature of the Tour of Missouri has grown with each of its three years, there’s currently a question mark over a fourth edition of the stage race in 2010. Despite being one of only five 2.HC races outside of Europe and drawing its strongest-ever field, Missouri's Lieutenant Governor Peter Kinder remained cautious about the event's future.

    "Nothing is guaranteed," said Kinder at a pre-race press conference. "We signed a three-year contract to do three races and this is the third year of that contract. As things stand now, unless we race supporters can pull together a herculean effort, I think that's what it would take [for there] to be a fourth edition of the Tour of Missouri."

    This year’s race will include seven ProTour teams and 24 participants from the 2009 Tour de France. Those riders include six-time stage winner Mark Cavendish, green jersey winner Thor Hushovd, polka dot jersey winner Franco Pellizotti and recently crowned United States of America time trial and road champions David Zabriskie and George Hincapie.

    The 2009 Tour of Missouri faced dire financial problems in July when Governor Jay Nixon proposed that Missouri's Department of Economic Development cut back 1.5 million dollars for the event, nearly half the tour’s operational budget. The funds were soon unfrozen, however, allowing the race to continue for its third year.

    "I'm not the one who made it a political football," said Kinder. "When the race came under attack and its existence was threatened, we rallied the defense for this wonderful event.

    "When the executive branch sought to pull the funding in July, the overwhelming reaction and outpouring of Missourians all over, our friends in other states and friends around the world who rallied to the defense of this race said a lot,” he added. “I said it a year ago and I'll say it again now, if I have anything to say about it as Chairman of the Tourism...

  • Hincapie dons new USPro kit in Missouri

    George Hincapie shows off his new stars and stripes kit, which will only be used for one event - the Tour of Missouri - before he moves to Team BMC in 2010.
    Article published:
    September 07, 2009, 11:58 BST
    Kirsten Frattini

    Focused on Columbia-HTC despite BMC signing

    George Hincapie will sport his team-issued USPro Championship kit for the first time at the Tour of Missouri, set to begin in St. Louis today. The seven-stage event will mark his final hurrah with Columbia-HTC, after recently announcing his move to the BMC Racing Team for the 2010 season

    “I have a new team but my focus right now is to race for Columbia-HTC, like I have done all year,” Hincapie said. “This year has probably been one of the most memorable years of my career. Helping [Mark] Cavendish win [Milan] San Remo or six stages of the Tour de France are right up there with anything that I’ve done in my whole career.”

    Hincapie won the Tour of Missouri title in 2007, the event’s inaugural year. He went on to help Cavendish win three of the seven stages last year. He hopes to end his two year journey with Columbia-HTC in victorious fashion.

    “Right know I prefer to focus on that and try to enjoy my last race with the team as much as possible,” Hincapie said. “Once next year rolls around I will be focused on my new challenges.”

    For now Hincapie is looking forward to wearing his well-earned Columbia-HTC USPro Champion jersey for the first and last time this week. “It should be fun,” said Hincapie, who won his third professional title in his hometown of Greenville, South Carolina last weekend. “It was a big goal of mine after the Tour de France to get ready for the nationals. I think I worked as hard as I ever have for that race and it worked out perfectly for me. I’m excited to be national champion again.”

    There are seven ProTour teams competing in this year’s Tour of Missouri. Both Columbia-HTC and Garmin-Slipstream are American-based and racing at home is a nice way to finish the season according to Hincapie. “I was really impressed with the fans and the organization in 2007,” said Hincapie. “Even last year...

  • Cavendish, Hushovd to face off in Missouri

    Mark Cavendish outsprinted green jersey holder Thor Hushovd in Aubenas.
    Article published:
    September 07, 2009, 13:38 BST
    Peter Hymas

    Missouri marks duo's first direct competition since Tour de France

    After the dust cleared at the 2009 Tour de France, Columbia-HTC's sprint phenomenon Mark Cavendish had racked up an impressive six stage victories while Cervélo TestTeam's Thor Hushovd claimed one stage and the green jersey. Cavendish and Hushovd have not raced head-to-head since the Tour de France's concluding stage in Paris on July 26, but that will soon change at the USA's Tour of Missouri.

    When the gun goes off to commence the seven-day Tour of Missouri on Monday afternoon, Cavendish and Hushovd will again be expected to contest for stage wins in an event with several opportunities for sprinters, beginning with the opening 120.7-kilometre circuit race in St. Louis. Cavendish returns to Missouri with high expectations, having won three stages in 2008, yet the Briton enters the race harboring modest goals.

    "I'll be happy with one [win], really," said Cavendish at a pre-race press conference. "I've won a stage in every [stage] race I've done since March 2008 and I want to carry on with that. Obviously every sprint I do I'd like to win, but we'll see how it goes."

    Cavendish was eager to come back to the Tour of Missouri in 2009 buoyed by his previous experience. "I pushed hard with my team to come back here," said Cavendish. "I really liked the race last year and I really like coming to America. When you're winning it makes it a little more special. There's more sprint stages this year and I'm looking to get some wins out of that."

    Being the season's dominant sprinter, Cavendish expects all eyes in the Tour of Missouri peloton will be on Columbia-HTC to control affairs, a situation the Briton has experienced previously. "I just hope we don't get a repeat of the Tour de France where we don't get any help for the first half of a stage,” he said. “That's the dilemma we've put ourselves in. I think Cervélo has a very strong team in the sprints and it's in their interest to help us."


  • Voigt an unknown in Missouri

    German Jens Voigt (Saxo Bank) leads teammate and Tour de France race leader, Fabian Cancellara (Saxo Bank).
    Article published:
    September 07, 2009, 14:00 BST
    Kirsten Frattini

    German fully recovered from horror Tour crash

    Jens Voigt has described himself as the unknown rider amongst Saxo Bank’s strong eight-man line up for this week’s Tour of Missouri. The German rider has fully recovered from fractured cheek and jaw bones, suffered in a crash while descending the Col du Petit-Saint-Bernard during stage 16 of this year’s Tour de France, and will return to the professional peloton in St. Louis today.

    “Yes, I’ve recovered well,” said Voigt who has not raced since the accident. “It was a pretty bad crash, I would say. But I think it probably looked more impressive than it actually was. I guess I still have to consider myself half-way lucky that I could walk away from it without too many bad injuries. So I took it easy for a while so I’ve only been back in training for a short amount of time. We will see how it goes.”

    Voigt is known as one of the most aggressive riders in the professional peloton, capable of repeated attacks and consistent performances. His motivation runs high, but after nearly six weeks out of competition the level of his fitness is yet to be revealed.

    “I could completely be unknown because I haven’t raced since then,” Voigt said. “Maybe I could be in a breakaway tomorrow or maybe I could be in the [caravan] cars tomorrow and riding right in front of the broom wagon. We have to see how my head goes. Sometimes I go, ‘what’s my name again’, but it looks like I’ve recovered well.”

    Team Saxo Bank brought a well rounded roster to the third edition of the Tour of Missouri. That includes Voigt along with Gustav Larsson, Jason McCartney, Chris Anker, Nicki Sørensen, Lars Bak, Markus Ljungquist and JJ Haedo.

    “When you look at the profile and how the race went last years, we tried to send a team for all possibilities,” Voigt said. “We have a sprinter with Haedo, who basically came from racing in the US to...

  • Blythe joins Silence-Lotto for two years

    Podium (L-R): Adam Blythe (Davo Lotto), Denis Flahaut (Landbouwkrediet Colnago) and Joeri Clauwaert (Yawadoo). Photo ©: Tom De Meyer/
    Article published:
    September 07, 2009, 14:01 BST
    Richard Tyler

    ProTour squad shows faith in British youngster

    Silence-Lotto have signed British rider Adam Blythe to a two-year contract. The 19-year-old will join the ProTour squad in 2010 after a successful season with the Belgian team's Continental feeder team, Davo-Lotto.

    Blythe had been selected to race as a stagiaire with Silence-Lotto this autumn.  However the announcement of the two-year deal fast-tracks the progress of the former member of British Cycling's Olympic Academy.

    He left the British Cycling development program in 2008, riding for Konica Minolta before he was recruited to Davo-Lotto for 2009. Blythe's progress has been guided since by the Davo's directeur sportif and former professional, Kurt Van De Wouwer.

    Blythe will join Silence-Lotto after a successful season. He won a stage at each of the Thüringen Rundfahrt and the Triptyque des Monts et Châteaux. Last month he claimed two stages at the Ronde van Antwerpen.

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  • Swiss confirm Cancellara for Worlds time trial

    Fabian Cancellara stormed back into the race lead with a stellar time trial.
    Article published:
    September 07, 2009, 14:02 BST
    Richard Tyler

    Two-time champion returns to World Championship competition at home

    Fabian Cancellara will seek to reclaim the Elite men's time trial World Championship after being announced as one of the host nation's representatives for this year's race in Mendrisio, Switzerland.

    Cancellara and Swiss time trial Champion Rubens Bertogliati (Serramenti PVC Diquigiovanni - Androni Giocattoli) were named by the Swiss Cycling Federation (SC) on Thursday and will take part in the time trial on September 24. BMC Racing Team's Mathias Frank and Thomas Frei have been named as reserves for the event.

    A two-time winner of the World Championship, Cancellara skipped last year's Worlds, despite winning Gold in the same discipline at the Beijing Olympics. In his absence Germany's Bert Grabsch (Colubia-HTC) was crowned the 2008 World time trial champion.

    Cancellara will head into the 49.8 kilometre Worlds race a red-hot favourite. This season the Saxo Bank rider has won the prologues of both the Tour de France and Vuelta a Espana. He highlighted his readiness for Mendrisio with a dominant victory in the first full-length time trial of the Vuelta, on Saturday.

    The announcement by the Swiss Cycling Federation of the men's time trial team means the host nation has confirmed all but their Mens Elite road team for the Championships. The SC will name their mens road team on September 14.

    Swiss team for the 2009 International Cycling Union Road World Championships:

    Mens Elite Time Trial:
    Fabian Cancellara
    Rubens Bertogliati

    Womens Elite Time Trial:
    Pascale Schnider
    Karin Thürig

    Womens Elite Road Race:
    Emilie Aubry
    Nicole Brändli
    Jennifer Hohl
    Patricia Schwager

    Mens U23 Time trial:
    Nicholas Schnyder
    Nino Oeschger

    Mens Under-23 Road Race:
    Nicholas Schnyder
    Mirco Saggiorato
    Christian Schneeberger
    Beney Romain

  • Columbia-HTC confirms 2010 roster

    Mark Cavendish (Team Columbia – HTC) rolls toward the start line on stage one
    Article published:
    September 07, 2009, 15:30 BST
    Kirsten Frattini

    Bak, Goss and Roulston bring experience

    Team Columbia-HTC has signed what it describes as eight youthful talents for the 2010 season, replacing several experienced riders who have left the squad. The 2010 roster includes 27 riders for the men’s team and nine members for the women’s team. New members of the men's squad include eight riders under the age of 25, including Saxo Bank riders Lars Ytting Bak and Australian Matt Goss. Also joining the team from Cervelo TestTeam is New Zealand track specialist Hayden Roulston.

    "We are very far along with our roster,” Bob Stapleton, the team owner, told Cyclingnews. “We are really focusing on what we do best and that is bringing in top international talents and in particular young talents. We want to bring them into an environment where they can grow and improve quickly."

    "These are talents that are recognized," Stapleton said. "We are overwhelmingly young, but we also have some strong veteran riders that are coming who will improve the quality of the team. Goss is only 22, but you would think he is older. Roulston and Goss will fit nicely into our sprint operations. Not just a lead-out but being the sprinters themselves," Stapleton said.

    Mark Cavendish, the team's most successful rider, made history when he won his sixth Tour de France stage on the Champs-Elysées this year and will again be the cornerstone of the Columbia outfit. His teammate Andre Greipel, who recently won two stages at the Vuelta a Espana will also remain with the squad. Michael Rogers will continue to lead the team’s Grand Tour aspirations, with Marco Pinotti and World time trial champion Bert Grabsch offering support in shorter stage races.

    "We are continuing to invest in keeping Greipel and Mark well supported," Stapleton said. "Keeping a lot of fast guys who can win races isn’t a bad formula for success for the team. The men’s team won 75 races this year and that comes from having depth and always...

  • Doubts still linger over Vuelta’s new leader

    Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne) accepts the gold jersey
    Article published:
    September 07, 2009, 20:31 BST
    Peter Cossins

    Valverde in gold but could still face further ban

    Alejandro Valverde could not have picked a better day to move into the gold leader’s jersey at the Vuelta. Having edged Cadel Evans out of the lead thanks to the bonus time he gained at stage nine’s finish at Xorret de Catí, Valverde will ride into his home city of Murcia on Tuesday looking an increasingly strong favourite for the overall title.

    However, not only Valverde’s leadership but even his presence at the Vuelta is beset with controversy. Sidelined from the Tour de France after the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) alleged that DNA evidence proved his involvement in the Operación Puerto blood doping affair, the Spaniard has continued to race thanks to the decision of his national federation (RFEC) not to take any disciplinary action against him.

    The UCI and World Anti-Doping Agency are challenging that decision by way of an appeal at the Court of Arbitration for Sport. For his part, Valverde is also dealing with the CAS having appealed against CONI’s decision to ban him from racing in Italy.

    Speaking to Cyclingnews after Valverde took the lead in the Spain, UCI president Pat McQuaid was unable to say when the CAS will rule on the UCI-WADA appeal. "It is still outstanding with the CAS," McQuaid said. “The Valverde appeal against the CONI decision is also still with the CAS. Until those processes are concluded, he is free to race. There is nothing we can do until a verdict is reached."

    McQuaid also stated: "I agree that it is unfortunate for fans that we’re in this situation, but we have to follow the rules."

    Consequently, assuming Valverde can maintain his grip on the gold jersey until the Vuelta finishes in Madrid a week on Sunday, his victory may not be confirmed for some time. In the event of the CAS finding in favour of the CONI and the UCI-WADA in these cases, Valverde is likely to face a worldwide ban imposed retrospectively, potentially disqualifying him from...