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First Edition Cycling News, Saturday, April 14, 2012

Date published:
April 14, 2012, 1:00 BST
  • RadioShack announces Amstel Gold Race squad

    Frank Schleck benefitted from a disorganized chase to win the 2006 Amstel Gold Race
    Article published:
    April 13, 2012, 12:26 BST
    Cycling News

    Schlecks and Horner head into Ardennes

    RadioShack Nissan has announced their team for Sunday’s Amstel Gold Race with Andy and Fränk Schleck set to lead the team. American rider Chris Horner also lines up, and having had a strong start to the season with 2nd overall in Tirreno – Adriatico, the team boast a number of options.

    Fränk Schleck won the race back in 2006 and, along with younger brother Andy, has regularly targeted the Ardennes Classics, which kick off with Amstel, before attention shifts to La Flèche Wallonne and Liège - Bastogne – Liège. However both Schlecks have endured difficult starts to the season.

    RadioShack has won just two individual races this season, both courtesy of Fabian Cancellara. However the Swiss rider crashed out of the Tour of Flanders at the start of the month and with a broken collar bone on the mend will miss the next few weeks of racing.

    His time off means there is an added incentive and pressure for the team to pluck a result from the Ardennes.

    RadioShack-Nissan’s Amstel Gold Race team:
    Jan Bakelants, Laurent Didier, Ben Hermans, Chris Horner, Maxime Monfort, Joost Posthuma, Andy Schleck & Fränk Schleck


  • McQuaid: I regret talk of new UCI passport cases

    Article published:
    April 13, 2012, 14:52 BST
    Daniel Benson

    President says passport is still healthy despite no sign of new cases

    “It could be weeks or days,” so answered Pat McQuaid in November of last year when Cyclingnews asked him when new biological passport cases would be opened.

    Several months on and no new cases have been opened. The only public development, a retreat by the UCI, with McQuaid admitting he regretted jumping the gun.

    “I regret using that expression [in November]. I shouldn’t have done it. I’m better off staying out of it all together,” he told Cyclingnews.

    “I can’t comment and I’m won't comment on where the passport is in any point in time. It just shows how complicated the whole thing is.”

    With no new cases since mid-2010 the passport appears to have stalled. However, McQuaid said this was not the case and that there were no financial constraints in testing or passport profiling.

    “It’s not in the least frustrating. I wasn’t looking at any cases personally. As until such time as anti-doping comes to me and says we have a positive, then I know about it. Before then I don’t know about it and I don’t want to know about it.”

    Asked if he had asked the UCI’s anti-doping team for any update, he added: “I haven’t. It’s not my affair to ask any questions. My affair is to get the results. I don’t ask any questions until then. Like I said, I shouldn’t have said that to you at that time because I was obviously wrong. The passport is very strong.”

    McQuaid would not comment when asked if any of the original passport cases had been opened too soon.

  • Alex Rasmussen has big plans for Giro d'Italia

    Alex Rasmussen (Garmin-Barracuda) took second in the sprint in the GP de Denain
    Article published:
    April 13, 2012, 16:09 BST
    Cycling News

    Dane hopes to also ride the Tour de France for Garmin-Barracuda

    Alex Rasmussen plans to win the prologue of the Giro d'Italia in his native Denmark. But the Garmin-Barracuda rider is also looking forward to many of the other stages, except for the final week, “which looks completely insane.”

    It will be Rasmussen's second appearance at the Italian Grand Tour. He rode it last year for HTC-Highroad, with his best result a close second place finish in the closing time trial to now current teammate David Millar.

     “There is no doubt that I want to win the prologue. I have been thinking and talking about it a lot,” he said in an interview with

    But it is about more than riding a Grand Tour. “It means a lot to me that I get to ride Giro in Denmark, especially since I was not allowed to run the Worlds at home because of my 'whereabouts' case. So this is my second chance to be allowed to ride something big at home, so it is obviously very large. "

    He was temporarily suspended last September when the UCI announced he had three violations of the “whereabouts” rules, and he was removed from the Danish world championship team. He was cleared of the charges on procedural grounds. The UCI has appealed that decision to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), and the hearing is scheduled for May 16, in the middle of the Giro.

    "I have much respect for the Giro, but there are also many stages that I can look forward to, like the prologue, the flat stages for Tyler [Farrar] and the...

  • Voeckler doesn't see himself as favourite for Amstel Gold Race

    Thomas Voeckler (Europcar) wins in his typical fashion
    Article published:
    April 13, 2012, 18:00 BST
    Cycling News

    Europcar captain says team always good in Belgian Classics

    Thomas Voeckler's win in the Brabantse Pijl on Wednesday has elevated him to one of the favourites in Sunday's Amstel Gold Race, but the Frenchman sees it differently.  He has never been in the top-ten of that race, but would be glad to add that title to his collection.

    There were some big riders who were not in Wednesday's race, he noted in an interview on the team Europcar website.  Also, “I was tenth in Liege-Bastogne-Liege one time and I have never made the top-ten in Amstel. I am not one who sets specific goals.”

    Of course he would like to stand atop the podium on Sunday.  “It is clear that I have won races like the Grand Prix Plouay or Quebec, but they can't possibly be compared with Amstel and the Doyenne.  That is not the same class.”

    Voeckler, who wore the leader's jersey for 10 stages at the 2011 Tour de France, was not surprised at his team's performance in the Classics.  “It is like two years ago.  Apart from Gent-Wevelgem, it was a great campaign.  'Turgech' (Sebastien Turgot, ed.) was huge in Roubaix. And there were still six riders in the main peloton 60km before the finish. 

    “In the Belgian Classics we always have a rider in the top-ten.  But we are not complacent.”

  • Kruijswijk eager to make first start at Amstel Gold Race

    Steven Kruijswijk
    Article published:
    April 13, 2012, 19:17 BST
    Daniel Benson

    Dutchman to skip Giro, make Tour de France debut this summer

    Steven Kruijswijk (Rabobank) will take part in his first Amstel Gold Race on Sunday. The 24-year-old Dutchman will compete in the complete trio of Ardennes races before taking a break and preparing for a debut at the Tour de France.

    "This will be my first time at Amstel. I've done Fleche once, in my first year, but that's my only Ardennes experience. I'm really looking forward to it. They're really big races, especially Amstel, which is a really big race for the team. It's important for us to do well there," Kruijswijk told Cyclingnews.

    Amstel is the biggest Dutch race on the calendar and as a result the Rabobank team always tries to put on a show for their sponsor and fans. With Robert Gesink and Bauke Mollema the team has two strong cards to play but the team has real depth, with Kruijswijk joining the likes of Matti Breschel and Lars Boom.

    And while this will mark Kruijswijk's first venture into the Ardennes he has talked up his own chances of making an impression on the race.

    "For myself, I'm looking forward to seeing what I can do in the Classics because the last two years I haven't done many but I want to see what I can do in the finals. I think these races can suit me," he said.

    "We have a pretty strong team here and I think I can have my own chances. I don't have to wait for the finale of Amstel, which is maybe a bit too explosive for me but I hope to help the team, put them in a good position and maybe someone like Mollema can finish on the podium. It's possible I'll go a little bit early, we have to anticipate a bit and get as many guys as we can in the final."

    After Liege-Bastogne-Liege, Kruijswijk will take a break from racing before building up...

  • Vanendert expects usual scenario on revised Amstel Gold Race course

    Jelle Vanendert (Lotto Belisol Team )
    Article published:
    April 13, 2012, 20:45 BST
    Barry Ryan

    Cauberg will be key again, says Meersman

    There may be an alteration to the finale of Amstel Gold Race this year, but Jelle Vanendert and Lotto Belisol do not expect any significant deviation from the traditional script in the Netherlands this Sunday.

    In recent years, the main contenders have by and large kept their powder dry in anticipation of the final sprint to the top of the Cauberg, where the race has finished since 2003. In a bid to encourage more attacks from further out, organisers have this year cut the distance between the penultimate climb of the Keutenberg and the finish by two kilometres.

    Vanendert is not convinced that the tweak to the course will alter the approach of the main contenders, however, as any attackers over the Keutenberg still have 10 kilometres to race before reaching the foot of the Cauberg.

    "It doesn't really matter, only the long descent is gone," Vanendert told reporters at Lotto Belisol's pre-race press conference in Maastricht on Friday. "I'm not convinced that it benefits the attackers. It's all wide open fields at the top of the Keutenberg, so a lot will depend on where the wind is coming from."

    In the event of a group finish, Vanendert conceded that there are few riders in the peloton who can contend with the likes of the Spanish pair Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) and Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) on an explosive climb such as the Cauberg.

    "There aren't a lot of riders capable of beating them on these finishes, except for [Philippe] Gilbert," he said.

    Twelve months ago, Vanendert was Gilbert's most trusted lieutenant as he dominated Amstel Gold Race and the Ardennes classics in the colours of Omega Pharma-Lotto. A year is a long time in cycling, however, and while Gilbert struggles for form at BMC, Vanendert will lead the line for...

  • Zabel to ride Berkshire Cycling Classic in May

    Erik Zabel won an incredible six consecutive green jerseys at the Tour de France
    Article published:
    April 13, 2012, 22:24 BST
    Cycling News

    German star returns to US for first time since '96 Olympics

    Cycling legend Erik Zabel will ride the first annual Berkshire Cycling Classic in Lenox, Massachusetts on May 6, 2012, event organiser Sparta Cycling announced on Thursday. The event is the American stop on the fifteen-event UCI World Cycling Tour (UWCT) for 2012 through 2014. The rides are held as Cyclosportif (or Gran Fondo) event formats.

    With over 200 professional wins, Erik Zabel is considered as one of the greatest German cyclists and best sprinters in cycling history. Zabel won the points classification at the Tour de France a record six consecutive times between 1996 and 2001 and claimed 12 Tour stage wins in his career. He also earned the points jersey at the Vuelta a España three times (2002-2004) as well as winning Italy's most famed racing classic, Milan-San Remo, four times. Zabel retired from pro cycling in 2008.

    "It is an honor for us to have Erik Zabel with us this year," said Sparta Cycling principal John Eustice. "Erik is not only a legendary rider but also a friendly, outgoing person who will add a special dimension to the first annual Berkshire Cycling Classic."

    Erik Zabel said of his upcoming role as 'patron' of the Berkshire Cycling Classic, "This will be my first time riding in the States since the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta. It is a wonderful chance to meet American riders and to ride the beautiful Berkshires."

    Both New York City and Lenox, Massachusetts will host "An Evening with Erik Zabel" with moderator John Eustice. His New York appearance will serve to present the 2012 Rockstar Games sponsored Skyscraper Harlem Cycling Classic, now a USA Crits and NCC event.

    "My 6-day racer friends told me about the Harlem race," said Zabel. "It's got a very good reputation in Europe as an exciting and well run criterium."

    Both appearances will focus on Zabel's storied career and the first annual Berkshires event.

    The UWCT is a series of UCI-sanctioned Gran Fondo/Cyclosportif events that...

  • Van den Broeck seeks first Classics win at Amstel Gold Race

    Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Lotto Belisol Team)
    Article published:
    April 13, 2012, 23:15 BST
    Brecht Decaluwé

    Belgian on course for Tour de France 2012

    After the departure of Philippe Gilbert to the BMC team it's up to a man like Jurgen Van den Broeck to seek wins for the Lotto Belisol team during the Ardennes week.

    Together with Gianni Meersman and Jelle Vanendert, Van den Broeck's one of the Belgian ProTeam's three leaders who's hoping he can strike in the finale and capture a first win at the Classics. "I've never won a Classic and a one-day race is always difficult. I have won only one race in nine years," Grand Tour specialist Van den Broeck said on Friday afternoon during the team's press conference in Maastricht, The Netherlands.

    Some might suggest the Amstel Gold Race is an obstacle on the way to the Tour de France rather than an opportunity. The biggest Dutch cycling event, featuring narrow, twisting roads, speed bumps and other obstacles, is contested on a parcours which provides ample opportunity for crashes. "Hopefully there's no rain otherwise it's even more dangerous but if you want to avoid the risks then you can't race anywhere ahead of the Tour," Van den Broeck said. "This is a Classic. The atmosphere on the Cauberg is unbelievable. The course drains you mentally, rather than physically."

    Clearly he isn't the Grand Tour rider who focuses solely on the three weeks in July. "There are more races in the year than the Tour. If I can win the Amstel then I will not say no. If you crash in the Tour like I did last year then you're left empty-handed," Van den Broeck said.

    In the 2011 edition of the Tour de France the Belgian seemed perfectly on course for a great result until stage 9 when he abandoned the race after crashing into a ravine during a fast descent. "The crash made me realize how...