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First Edition Cycling News, Saturday, April 21, 2012

Date published:
April 21, 2012, 1:00 BST
  • BMC to continue with pro team through 2016

    The BMC team won in Trentino's opening team time trial in 2012
    Article published:
    April 20, 2012, 18:58 BST
    Cycling News

    Bicycle manufacturer a lasting partner

    The BMC Racing Team announced today the continued support of its bicycle manufacturer title sponsor through 2016. First registered as a US Continental squad in 2007, the BMC team has risen through the ranks to become one of the most powerful squads in the WorldTour.

    "We are fortunate to have a partner like BMC Switzerland, which permits us to participate at the highest level of the sport," said
    BMC Racing Team President/General Manager Jim Ochowicz. "We have enjoyed a terrific partnership and plan to continue to provide BMC Switzerland with a viable outlet to test and showcase its bicycles in all of the world's greatest races."

    Five years on from its humble beginnings, the BMC Racing Team scored its first Tour de France victory thanks to Cadel Evans in 2011, and has invested heavily in its roster this year, although notable stars like Philippe Gilbert and Thor Hushovd have as yet failed to reach their previous stature this season.

    BMC Owner Andy Rihs continues to see the value in funding one of the biggest budget teams in the peloton. "Our best marketing strategy is to have the best cycling team in the world," Rihs said. "I always say we are not doing it out of fun. But we have a lot of fun doing it. It's mandatory to be that if you want to be a big, growing brand in the cycling world."

    While a professional cycling team may not directly affect a company's bottom line, BMC Switzerland CEO Thomas Binggeli says the image provided by the team is a benefit. "We want to have a positive image transfer from the success of the BMC Racing Team to the bicycle brand BMC," Binggeli said. "We also want to grow awareness of the BMC brand so it's known worldwide as a Swiss bicycle manufacturing company. And we want to profit from the knowledge and experience...

  • Gallery: Riders recon Liège-Bastogne-Liège route

    A plaque on the La Redoute climb commemorating the 100th anniversaray of Liege-Bastogne-Liege.
    Article published:
    April 20, 2012, 19:25 BST
    Cycling News

    Critical climbs previewed for Sunday's La Doyenne

    As the clock ticks down to the start of Liège-Bastogne-Liège on Sunday, riders took the opportunity to preview the parcours today and familiarise (or re-familiarise) themselves with the challenging, hilly route of the 2012 season's final Spring Classic.

    Eleven categorised climbs are included in the 257.5km route, with the final nine placed in the last 100km. The narrow, steeply pitched Côte de La Redoute, situated 34.5km from the finish in Ans, is a frequent launch pad for winning moves in La Doyenne and teams made sure their riders were well acquainted with the climb during Friday's course preview.

    The teams were able to ride the latter portions of the route in relative calm under sunny skies, but the crowd barriers already in place will be put to good use on Sunday as the parcours will be full of spectators eager to see who will be crowned the 2012 Liège-Bastogne-Liège champion.

    Click here to view the gallery.

  • Hesjedal aiming for top finish in Liège-Bastogne-Liège

    Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Barracuda)
    Article published:
    April 20, 2012, 21:00 BST
    Daniel Benson

    Podium possible after strong showing in Flèche Wallonne

    Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Barracuda) is hoping to close out the American team's Spring Classics with a strong showing in Liège-Bastogne-Liège on Sunday. The Canadian put in a solid performance in La Flèche Wallonne on Wednesday, breaking clear before the final ascent of the Mur de Huy with Lars Petter Nordhaug (Team Sky).

    "I think I'm suited to Liège. I've shown I can handle the distance and even get better as a race goes on. I've been close to the top ten a couple of times so based on the signs from Flèche and the start of this week I'm confident of a strong Liège to close out the Ardennes," he told Cyclingnews.

    "I've been building this week and hopefully I'll have a good ride on Sunday with the team. Maybe we can challenge for the podium to close out our Spring Classics."

    Hesjedal and his Garmin teammates spent the day riding recon over the final 75 kilometres of the course and unlike Flèche and Amstel, Liège is a race that could be decided before the final climb to the finish, an element that could play into the hands of Garmin – a team that placed three riders in the top 26 in Flèche, with Daniel Martin coming home in sixth.

    Hesjedal may have fared better in the final climb in Flèche had he waited for the inevitable, but his attack with Nordhaug was the only significant move to go clear inside the final 15 kilometres. The pair built up a lead of 13 seconds going into the final kilometre.

    "I felt like trying to push the race would be a good idea. We had a few cards to play with Dan [Martin] and Fabian [Wegmann] so I thought I'd take a chance and try and be at the...

  • Atapuma gives Colombia Coldeportes team its first European victory

    Darwin Atapuma (Colombia Coldeportes) claimed his team's first victory on European soil this season.
    Article published:
    April 20, 2012, 23:31 BST
    Cycling News

    Victory atop the Passo Pordoi celebrated across Colombia

    Darwin Atapuma delivered the first European victory for the Colombia Coldeportes team on the 177.5km closing stage of the Giro del Trentino from Castelletto Di Brenzone to the Passo Pordoi today. Climbing through snow and freezing temperatures, Atapuma pounced on the final climb, soloing in the final half kilometer to win ahead of his fellow Colombian Carlos Betancur (Acqua & Sapone).

    "I grew up following [Luis Alberto "Lucho"] Herrera's great wins at the Tour de France, and it's a dream to win on such a climb," Atapuma said in a press release. "I can guess how happy they are in Colombia right now..."

    Growing up on a farm, the 24-year-old who has come up through Colombia's development program said he is no stranger to fatigue because of his upbringing. "It's an amazing result, as it's also the first ever for my team, and I want to dedicate it to our manager Claudio Corti, because he made this great project possible."

    Corti said the win was a "well-deserved success for a great guy", and will be a morale boost for a team that has struggled to get results in Europe so far this season. "Helping these riders to adjust to European racing isn't easy, but they are doing their very best, and results are starting to show up. I firmly believe our Team will quickly establish itself as one of the most exciting new players in international cycling," Corti said.

    The final stage started dry, but the weather deteriorated in the latter part of the stage. By the time the peloton reached the Passo Pordoi, snow and sleet were punishing the riders. It's not exactly the kind of weather a Colombian would be accustomed to, but Atapuma, known as "El Puma" had no problem with the cold.

    "It was very cold, but El Puma knew he had the right legs to go for it. He wanted to attack with 1 km to go, but then he...

  • Petacchi, Chicchi to feature in Presidential Tour of Turkey

    Alessandro Petacchi (Lampre - ISD)
    Article published:
    April 21, 2012, 0:45 BST
    Cycling News

    Lampre, Omega Pharma-Quickstep rosters set

    As the Spring Classics wind down, it's time for the peloton's sprinters to head to flatter ground, and the Presidential Tour of Turkey is the next big test for the fast men. The race will see the return of Alessandro Petacchi (Lampre-ISD), who was hit by a flu before Milan-San Remo and has been on the sidelines since.

    "I'm happy to come back to racing, especially in a competition that usually gives me satisfaction," Petacchi said in a team press release. "First of all, it will be necessary to improve the feeling with the race pace, then I'll focus my attention of trying to be competitive in the sprints. The teammates are all skillful in supporting me, so I think we'll be able to try to get good results".

    Omega Pharma-Quickstep director Wilfried Peeters is heading to the race with ace sprinter Francesco Chicchi, winner of two stages of the Tour de San Luis, a stage of the Driedaagse van West-Vlaanderen, the Nokere Koerse and the Handzame Classic so far this season, as well as Andrew Fenn, who won two stages in the Trofeo Mallorca.

    "It's a good race to launch the second part of the season," said Peeters. "The weather is normally good, and the stages not so long. The stages are suited for our riders who can try and make a breakaway, or for riders like Fenn and Chicchi who can try and win a sprint. We want to try and win a stage."

    Lampre for Tour of Turkey: Alessandro Petacchi, Vitaly Buts, Massimo Graziato, Denys Kostyuk, Dmytro Krivtsov, Oleksandr Kvachuk, Oleksandr Sheydyk and Davide Viganò.

    Omega Pharma-Quickstep for Tour of Turkey: Marco Bandiera, Francesco Chicchi, Andrew Fenn, Michal Golas, Iljo Keisse, Nikolas, Frantisek Rabon, Matteo Trentin.

  • Weather could be on Gilbert's side at Liège-Bastogne-Liège

    Fans reach out to console Philippe Gilbert on his loss.
    Article published:
    April 21, 2012, 10:30 BST
    Cycling News

    Belgian "not as strong" as 2011

    Philippe Gilbert (BMC) is hoping to complete a remarkable return to form on Sunday by winning Liège-Bastogne-Liège on Sunday. The Belgian champion was a shadow of his former self at the cobbled classics, but after ten days away from racing following the Tour of Flanders, he returned to action in a significantly more competitive state for the Ardennes classics.

    6th at Amstel Gold Race and 3rd at Flèche Wallonne this week, Gilbert is still some way off the all-conquering figuring who won both races and La Doyenne last year, but he believes he will be in the mix on Sunday afternoon, especially if weather conditions remain as changeable as they have been during the week.

    “I would have preferred if it was even colder and wetter again, because I perform better in difficult conditions,” Gilbert said, according to “I thought that the weather would play more of a role at Flèche on Wednesday, because it was cold at Amstel.”

    Flèche Wallonne winner Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) confessed to struggling to cope with the colder temperatures at Amstel Gold Race, and Gilbert is hopeful that the weather might tip the balance towards him this weekend.

    “It won’t be decisive, even if it might mean the race is harder,” he said. “But if it was going to be 25 degrees, then that would certainly have been an advantage to the Spanish and the Italians.”

    Still without a win this season, Gilbert acknowledged that he is still not at his very best, but he insisted that he never doubted himself through the troubled early months of his campaign.

    “In spite of...

  • Basso: I'll only ride Giro d'Italia if I can fight for pink

    Ivan Basso (Liquigas-Cannondale) makes his way to the summit of the Passo Pordoi after doing plenty of work in support of teammate Sylvester Szmyd.
    Article published:
    April 21, 2012, 11:38 BST
    Cycling News

    Final decision due after Tour de Romandie

    Ivan Basso (Liquigas-Cannondale) showed signs of improvement as the Giro del Trentino drew to a close on Friday, but the Italian said that he will only race the Giro d’Italia if he is certain that can compete for the pink jersey. Basso will make a final decision on his participation in the corsa rosa after he competes at the Tour de Romandie from April 24-29.

    “I’m satisfied, but I need to have further answers from the Tour de Romandie before I cast off all of my doubts about taking part in the Giro d’Italia,” Basso said. “I can say that I’m optimistic, for me and the team, but I only want to be at the start of the Giro if I can genuinely fight for the pink jersey.”

    Basso’s Liquigas-Cannondale stablemate Vincenzo Nibali has long been slated to ride the Tour de France, but the Sicilian is waiting in the wings to lead at the Giro if required. An announcement on Nibali’s participation – and on a possible contract extension – is set to be made following Liège-Bastogne-Liège this weekend.

    Basso has endured a torrid beginning to his 2012 campaign and failed to finish a race in the opening months of the season. After coughing up five minutes on the Punta Veleno on Thursday, however, Basso enjoyed a much stronger outing on the final stage to the summit of the mighty Passo Pordoi.

    Although he came home almost two minutes down on stage winner Darwin Atapuma (Colombia-Coldeportes) and overall winner Domenico Pozzovivo (Colnago-CSF Inox) on the Pordoi, Basso rubbed shoulders with a number of his fellow Giro contenders en route to 14th place on the stage and 22nd overall.

    “I set off with the...

  • Andy Schleck determined to be a factor at Liège-Bastogne-Liège

    Andy Schleck (Radioshack-Nissan)
    Article published:
    April 21, 2012, 12:53 BST
    Cycling News

    Kim Andersen on missing the Tour de France

    Andy Schleck is determined to be a factor in Liège-Bastogne-Liège, even if the 2009 winner acknowledged that his brother Fränk and Chris Horner will be the natural leaders of the RadioShack-Nissan team on Sunday.

    The Luxembourger insisted that his programme in 2012 is once again tailored specifically around the Tour de France, but he was still on the attack at Flèche Wallonne on Wednesday, and is keen to make an impact at La Doyenne.

    “I’d like to be better than I am right now, even if I’m not bad,” said Schleck, according to Le Quotidien. “For Sunday, it’s clear that I’m hoping to be up there in front. I’ll repeat what I said before Amstel and Flèche: I’m not the favourite, but I’m starting to feel good. I think I can play an important role, especially at Liège because it’s the one classic that suits a guy aiming for the Tour de France as much as it does a classics rider.”

    Whereas Philippe Gilbert was in all-conquering form this week last year, the 2012 edition of Liège-Bastogne-Liège promises to be an altogether more open affair, with a whole host of potential winners.

    “We have two leaders, Fränk and Chris Horner, and then if I have an opportunity, I’ll take it,” Schleck said. “You can see that there isn’t a big dominant leader as was the case with Philippe Gilbert last year. In previous years, Valverde was the man to beat. This year, we don’t really know.”

    Last season, the Schleck brothers found themselves over-powered and outwitted by Gilbert as part of the decisive three-man break. If they were to find themselves in the same situation on...