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First Edition Cycling News, Saturday, April 24, 2010

Date published:
April 24, 2010, 1:00 BST
  • BMC confident Evans can continue at Liège

    World Champion Cadel Evans (BMC) goes for it
    Article published:
    April 23, 2010, 12:31 BST
    By:
    Richard Tyler

    Australian to lead US squad in final spring Classic, Wyss replaces Kroon

    Flèche Wallonne winner Cadel Evans will again lead the BMC Racing Team this weekend at the final spring Classic, Liège-Bastogne-Liège, after the US squad confirmed its roster for the event on Friday morning. Swiss rider Danilo Wyss has been drafted in to replace the injured Karsten Kroon.

    World Champion Evans claimed his first Classic on Wednesday at Flèche Wallonne, surging past Alberto Contador (Astana) in the final hundred metres of the race. Having secured his team's first win of the year at Flèche, BMC director sportif John Lelangue is confident the Australian can carry his form into Liège on Sunday.

    “We know Cadel can do well in this type of race,” said Lelangue. “He showed in Amstel Gold Race that he was in good shape and then he won Flèche Wallonne."

    This Sunday's race will represent Evans' participation in the event - his best results at Liège coming in 2005 (5th) and, most recently, in 2008, when he finished seventh. With Karsten Kroon sidelined by injuries suffered at Flèche Wallonne on Wednesday, BMC's resources will be at Evans' sole disposal.

    "[After Flèche Wallonne] other teams will be looking at us more closely," continued Lelangue. "We're confident we can work well to bring Cadel to the finish in the best condition.”

    Evans will rely on an almost unchanged line-up from his successful day on Wednesday. Swiss Danilo Wyss has come in to replace Kroon, however US riders Brent Bookwalter, Jeff Louder and Jackson Stewart will again take their place in the selection, with Wyss' compatriots Steve Morabito and Simon Zahner completing the eight-man selection.

    Full BMC Racing Team roster for Liège-Bastogne-Liège: Brent Bookwalter, Cadel Evans, Mathias Frank, Jeff Louder, Steve Morabito, Jackson Stewart, Danilo Wyss and Simon Zahner.

  • Chavanel hopes for Liège breakthrough

    Sylvain Chavanel (Quick Step) lines up for the start
    Article published:
    April 23, 2010, 13:00 BST
    By:
    Hedwig Kröner

    Frenchman feeling good ahead of final spring Classic

    Quick Step rider Sylvain Chavanel may not have been riding in the limelight during the Classic campaign of his Belgian team, but the Frenchman is nevertheless happy with his form going into the last event of the spring calendar on Sunday, the "Doyenne" Liège-Bastogne-Liège.

    "People didn't see me much this spring," Chavanel admitted, when Cyclingnews spoke to him on Friday, as he travelled on the team bus to recon the finale of the race in Ans. "Still, I was always in the right group, always within the top 25 finishers. In three big Classics I rode this spring - Milano-Sanremo, Flanders and Amstel - I always finished well."

    Chavanel, a support rider to his Belgian teammate Tom Boonen in Flanders and Roubaix, has held a consistently good form throughout the last weeks, but fallen short of a top placing due to bad luck.

    "In Amstel last week, I punctured with 25 kilometres to go," he said. "Still, I came back to finish 16th. In the sprint, I had no more juice left, as I had to time trial my way back to the front during 25 kilometres. But I felt good, I have good legs. Without the puncture, I could have done much better."

    Except for Flanders and Roubaix, where "Boonen and Cancellara were simply out of reach", the Frenchman feels he wasn't far away from the condition needed to enter the top ten or top five. "On this level, the differences are minimal," he continued. "At the moment, I lack this final acceleration to play out my card in the finish. Of course, I would be more satisfied with my spring if I had achieved better placings. But the way it went, it's not so bad: I'm regular in my results, so I keep a good morale."

    Still, Chavanel admitted that his lack of results - also compared to 2008, where he scored several high-profile victories - was, "unnerving. But you can't compare these races to the ones I won in 2008. They were all races around 200 kilometres, whereas these ones are much longer. But I...

  • Wiggins looking forward to tough test at Liège

    Bradley Wiggins (Team Sky) climbs in the bunch.
    Article published:
    April 23, 2010, 14:37 BST
    By:
    Stephen Farrand

    Briton to support teammates, unaffected by Tour de France rivals' form

    Bradley Wiggins will ride for Team Sky teammates Simon Gerrans and Thomas Lövkvist at Sunday at Liège-Bastogne-Liège but hopes to be part of the decisive selection that will form on the Côte de la Redoute and go on to fight for victory.

    Wiggins is already thinking ahead to next month's Giro d'Italia and the Tour de France in July - his major goal of the season. But he always likes to race and knows that a hard day on Sunday against his eventual Tour de France rivals Alberto Contador, Cadel Evans and Andy Schleck, will also be a good test of his form.

    "The initial idea to come here was to support Simon [Gerrans] and Thomas [Lövkvist] who are really looking at these races. They're the leaders. But there's always an opportunity to slip away and I'll look for that," he told Cyclingnews on Friday.

    "If I can get over the La Redoute in that selection of 20 or whatever it will be, then there's always a bit of a chance of doing something. But just being up there in these races is something. I'm just looking forward to it. 260 kilometres like that is bloody hard and in a fitness sense it's fantastic to do."

    Wiggins studied the final part of the route on Thursday with his teammates. He predicted the changes caused by road works and the subsequent loss of the Haute-Levée and Vecquée climbs will mean the La Redoute climb become much more important.

    "I grew up watching these races on television and so it was good finally riding the course. When you actually ride the La Redoute and the Saint-Nicolas, you see how hard they are," he said.

    "Some of the guys are saying it's a lot easier before the La Redoute this year. They've changed quite a lot of the course and there's a lot of downhill sections an a lot of flat for moves to come back, so this year we could get to the foot of the La Redoute with a lot more riders, which would make it harder still."

    Wiggins is not yet...

  • Menchov moves into Rabobank line-up for Liège.

    Denis Menchov
    Article published:
    April 23, 2010, 16:18 BST
    By:
    Richard Tyler

    Weening replaces ill Mourenhout for Classics finale

    Rabobank's Denis Menchov will take part in his one and only Classic of the year after the Dutch team announced him in their line-up for Liège–Bastogne–Liège. Pieter Weening has also been called into the squad as a replacement for Koos Moerenhout, who has been ruled out by illness.

    For Menchov, it will be his fourth appearance at Liège-Bastogne-Liège. The Russian last raced the event in 2008, with his best result coming in 2004, when he finished 15th for Iles Balears-Banesto. Sunday's 258-kilometre race will be his last competitive outing before starting the Tour of Romandie in Switzerland on Tuesday.

    Pieter Weening will also head to Romandie after Liège. The Dutchman was added to the team's roster for the Ardennes Classic on Friday after Koos Mourenhout fell ill. Weening had been counting on several days off after returning to the Netherlands from a four-week training camp in Spain.

    "I thought it was a joke from [Rabobank sports director Frans Maassen]," said Weening. "I wanted a few quiet days training in Friesland and a little break because I'd spent almost an entire day travelling back from Spain. Fortunately, it won't be a long journey to join the team in Maastricht on Saturday, and then on to the race [on Sunday]."

    The remaining six places in the Rabobank line-up for Liège-Bastogne-Liège will be occupied by riders who took part in Flèche Wallonne on Wednesday. Laurens ten Dam, Oscar Freire, Robert Gesink, Paul Martens, Grischa Niermann and Bram Tankink the returning riders.

  • Zajicek aiming for SRAM Tour of the Gila podium repeat

    Phil Zajicek (Fly V Australia) going hard to get up the steep climb
    Article published:
    April 23, 2010, 17:43 BST
    By:
    Kirsten Frattini

    La Vuelta de Bisbee marks the final tune-up

    Phil Zajicek (Fly V Australia) is well-prepared to improve on his third place overall from 2009 when the SRAM Tour of the Gila begins next Wednesday. The five-staged race will include six ProTour riders, including seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong.

    “I’m definitely going in with big expectations,” Zajicek told Cyclingnews. “I’ve been riding better than I ever have. I’m feeling really great and we have a super strong team going. It is not just myself; we have six other guys going and all of them are riding really well right now.”

    Zajicek won Gila’s final stage, the Gila Monster Road Race, last year. Zajicek’s stage win was further highlighted because he out-paced ProTour riders like Armstrong and overall winner Levi Leipheimer.

    “Last year I didn’t know what to expect going into it,” Zajicek said. “I wanted a result but I didn’t know what the expectations were. It ended up going amazingly well. This year I’m going into it the bar is set pretty high.

    “I think to do the result I did last year would be great,” he added. “That being said, I’ve been training for the last six weeks with these next three weeks in mind for Tour of the Gila and then the Tour of California, those are my big focuses.”

    Garmin-Transitions will send Dave Zabriskie, Tom Danielson and Danny Pate to Gila, with the trio riding under the name of Zabriskie’s company DZ Nuts. Likewise, Team RadioShack will field Armstrong, Leipheimer and Jason McCartney under the name of Armstrong’s Austin-based bike shop Mellow Johnny’s.

    “I think it’s great to be able to race against those guys, they are some of the best in the world,” Zajicek said. “They are all going really well right now. It is a really good quality field. They bring the cycling world’s attention onto Gila again....

  • Contador insists he is riding Liège-Bastogne-Liège for experience

    Alberto Contador and his Astana teammates scope out the Liège-Bastogne-Liège course.
    Article published:
    April 23, 2010, 18:26 BST
    By:
    Stephen Farrand

    Spanish star to study Tour de France pavé on Tuesday

    Alberto Contador (Astana) is an automatic favourite for Sunday's Liège-Bastogne-Liège, but the Spaniard insists he is only riding the event to gain experience for the future. Contador says he intends to return to Belgium to target the Ardennes Classics later in his career.

    "It'd be nice to be up there, but I don’t know what will happen," he said at a press conference in Liège on Friday.

    "I was happy with my result in Flèche Wallonne and I'd like to do well again. Of course this has nothing to do the Tour de France and the result is not important for July. I've ridden this race I think twice, but I haven't really got any experience and so my goal is to learn as much as possible and get to know the course. I'm going to give it everything, but there are questions about what I can do."

    "For sure I'd like to come back to try and win the Classics one year. They're important races with lots of history and everyone wants to win them. When the calendar is compatible, I'll ride these race with 100 per cent form."

    Contador did not want to make a prediction about what will happen in the race on Sunday, but made it clear he would not want to arrive at the finish in Ans with riders like Alejandro Valverde and Damiano Cunego, who could easily beat him in the sprint.

    "I honestly don’t know what going to happen. If I could chose I'd rather finish alone with my arms up. Valverde and Cunego are very fast and so it'd be complicated if I finish with them. With other climbers like Igor Anton or Andy Schleck, I perhaps have more of a chance. Of course, I think [Philippe] Gilbert is a favourite to win. He's racing on home roads and this is the most important week of his season. He will give 100 per cent for sure."

    Preparations for the Tour de France pavé

    While in northern Europe, Contador will also take the chance to study the sections of cobbles that have been...

  • Cycling gets more global

    Racing booms in Australia and the Tour Down Under becomes even bigger
    Article published:
    April 23, 2010, 20:05 BST
    By:
    Cycling News

    UCI ProTour Council meets to discuss trends, anti-doping, team registration

    The UCI ProTour Council (UPTC) held its first meeting of the year on Friday in Brussels. It included new members Roger Legeay, Ramon Mendiburu, Stephen Roche and Erik Zabel and returning members UCI President Pat McQuaid, UCI Road Commission President Joop Atsma and riders' representative Paulo Couto. Attendees discussed several topics including the UCI's progress toward globalization of the sport of cycling and its anti-doping biological passport program.

    The meeting opened with Philippe Chevallier, the Director of the UCI Road Department, describing how the UCI has beem moving toward one of its strategic priorities: globalization. Data from 2000 to 2010 shows the trend toward globalization. Ten years ago, the first division teams came from eight countries on two continents, whereas this season the teams come from 11 countries on three continents. The number of second and third division teams has more than doubled: 147 teams from 43 countries on five continents today, compared with 72 teams from 19 countries on two continents in 2000.

    The UCI Doctor, Mario Zorzoli, presented a positive assessment of the first two years of the biological passport program. He emphasised what the UCI called in a press release "encouraging changes of behaviour in the great majority of riders covered by the programme designed to combat doping". Information from the biological passport program has been used to target riders for anti-doping testing as well as to serve as a general deterrent. The program, costing nine million Swiss francs in 2009, will continue in cooperation with various anti-doping organizations.

    The council approved the implementation of a UCI labelling system for bicycle frames in 2011 and also approved the principle of solidarity between UCI ProTeams and National Federations. The federations will receive a certain number of bikes at the end of each season under this solidarity scheme.

    In the final portion of the meeting,...

  • Gilbert forging his place in Classics history

    Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma-Lotto)
    Article published:
    April 24, 2010, 9:09 BST
    By:
    Stephen Farrand

    Belgian not scared of anybody at Liège-Bastogne-Liège

    Philippe Gilbert has finished in the top ten of all the one-day Classics he has targeted in the last two years and could prove without doubt that he is the most complete Classics rider of his generation.

    Gilbert was third in last year's Tour of Flanders, fourth at Amstel Gold Race and Liège-Bastogne-Liège, second in the Belgian national championships, sixth at the World Championships and then ended the season with a run of victories at Paris-Tours and the Tour of Lombardy.

    This year he was ninth at Milan-San Remo, third at Gent-Wevelgem, third at the Tour of Flanders, won the Amstel Gold Race and was sixth at Flèche Wallonne. According to Belgian newspaper La Derniere Heure, even the great Eddy Merckx struggled to match that kind of consistency.

    Gilbert insists he does so well because he simply loves racing. He is fortunate to have the power and bike skills to handle the cobbled races in Flanders, the climbing ability for the Ardennes and a fast sprint to win on both terrains. He revealed he is still trying to work out which Classics suit him.

    "I don't know myself which Classics suit me the best," he told Derniere Heure. "At the start I thought I was a Ardennes Classics rider because I was born in Remouchamps. If winning Liège-Bastogne-Liège was just about being born at the foot of the La Redoute, it'd be easy for me…"

    "I think my ability allows me to be up there on every terrain. Now I'm even starting to get used to adapting mentally for different races. Apart from the high mountains, where I'm not very good, I think I can handle everything else. I've got the potential to win both the Flemish and the Ardennes Classics."

    With Belgium becoming more and more divided because of the difference between the Flemish and Francophone cultures, Gilbert's versatility is a sign, at least, of cycling unification.

    Gilbert is perhaps the most complete Classics...