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First Edition Cycling News, Saturday, April 7, 2012

Date published:
April 07, 2012, 1:00 BST
  • Farrar rows in behind Vansummeren at Paris-Roubaix

    Tyler Farrar recovers from a long ride in Flanders
    Article published:
    April 06, 2012, 20:32 BST
    By:
    Barry Ryan

    2011 champion in form, says American

    Tyler Farrar is confident that defending champion Johan Vansummeren can lead the line for Garmin-Barracuda at this Sunday's Paris-Roubaix. A crash on the Paterberg hampered Vansummeren in the finale of the Tour of Flanders, but Farrar believes his teammate has the same sort of condition that carried him to victory at Roubaix 12 months ago.

    "Our whole objective is to try and win Roubaix and Summie is our guy for that," Farrar told Cyclingnews in Ghent. "We do have a few other riders and if something happens in the race, we do have some back-ups, but we're starting the race all for one and that's Johan.

    "I think he's really fit. He's looked really good and he's been really good on the races. Roubaix is a special race, and you need to have the legs and a bit of luck, but with the way Johan has been riding the last couple of weeks, I think he's just as strong as he was this time last year."

    Vansummeren lined up in 2011 as one of Thor Hushovd's key lieutenants, but he seized the opportunity when he infiltrated what turned out to be the decisive break shortly after the Arenberg forest. Although Hushovd has since left for pastures new at BMC, Garmin remains a solid force on the cobbles, all the more so given the progress made by Sep Vanmarcke this season.

    The young Belgian won Omloop Het Nieuwsblad in February, but admitted that the longer distance took its toll at the Tour of Flanders, where he lined up as team leader. While Vanmarcke will surely still have a key role to play on Sunday, Farrar stressed that Vansummeren would lead the line.

    "We're going into the race purely riding for Summie, but we have to send...

  • Andy Schleck finds morale ahead of Liège-Bastogne-Liège

    Andy Schleck (Radioshack-Nissan)
    Article published:
    April 06, 2012, 21:35 BST
    By:
    Jean-François Quénet

    Circuit de la Sarthe reassured Tour de France star, except for the time trial

    Following his early abandons at Paris-Nice and the Volta a Catalunya, Andy Schleck finally put a smile on his face after racing at the front in the Circuit de la Sarthe-Pays de la Loire that finished on Friday in Sablé-sur-Sarthe.

    Schleck finished 22nd, 30 seconds behind overall winnner Luke Durbridge (GreenEdge), but was able to test his legs with a few attacks and was pleased with the feelings.

    "It's been a very enjoyable race," Schleck told Cyclingnews after receiving the fair-play award from the race organizers. "The weather has been good. I've managed to ride well and I don't regret my choice to come here rather than doing the Volta al Pais Vasco.

    "The bunch wasn't too big (104 starters) but it was still a fast race. Not many races are contested at such a high speed as what we experienced today, and yesterday's course was very selective. Yesterday, it was a real test for me and I was happy with how my legs responded."

    During stage 3, the leader of RadioShack-Nissan went solo on the attack with less than twelve kilometers to go. He was eventually caught after the Monts des Avaloirs, which is the highest summit of west of France (416m), but he successfully passed the test regarding his condition.

    Schleck was seen at the front of the peloton again during the final stage. The other test he underwent was the 6.8km time trial in Angers. He announced that he...

  • Belgians divided on new Flanders course

    Boonen in action during his 2012 Tour of Flanders win
    Article published:
    April 07, 2012, 11:18 BST
    By:
    Cycling News

    Post race poll marginally finds fault

    The build up to this year's Tour of Flanders provoked much debate and controversy owing to the significant changes to the course of the emblematic Belgian race. Race administrators elected to perform major surgey to the finale for almost 40 years, finishing in the town of Oudenaarde and losing one of the race's most iconic climbs, theMuur van Geraardsbergen.

    Despite a thrilling race that was won in dramatic fashion by local hero Tom Boonen, a poll conducted by Belgian newspaper Sporza found that 52% of their readers compared the new route unfavourably with the old one. Over 13,500 people took part in the poll.

    Considering the amount of negative press and publicity surrounding the changes before the race, the race organisers will probably view such a close result as something of a victory.
     

  • Preliminary hearing date fixed for Mantova case

    Damiano Cunego (Lampre-ISD)
    Article published:
    April 07, 2012, 13:39 BST
    By:
    Cycling News

    Charges to be confirmed or dropped on July 13

    The 32 people named in the Mantova-based doping investigation will learn whether or not they will be charged with offences on July 13 after the preliminary hearing judge in the case fixed the date of the first hearing.

    Last week it was confirmed that public prosecutor Antonino Condorelli had filed his final report on the inquiry, which centres on the relationship between the Lampre squad and Mariana Mantovana pharmacist Guido Nigrelli.

    32 names were listed in his final report, including Alessandro Ballan (BMC), Damiano Cunego (Lampre-ISD), Marco Bandiera (Omega-Quick Step), Marzio Bruseghin (Movistar), Mauro Da Dalto (Liquigas-Cannondale), Manuele Mori (Lampre-ISD), Massimiliano Mori (formerly of Lampre) Daniele Pietropolli (Lampre-ISD), Simone Ponzi (Astana), Mauro Santambrogio (BMC) and Michael Rasmussen (Christina Watches).

    Lampre-ISD manager Beppe Saronni, directeurs sportifs Fabrizio Bontempi and Maurizio Piovani, and former professional Mariano Piccoli have also been named in Condorelli’s report.

    According to Gazzetta dello Sport, the 32 people named in the report should learn at the preliminary hearing in July whether or not they will be charged with offences including the trafficking, prescription, administration and use of prohibited substances.

    The Friday, July 13 hearing takes place in the middle of the Tour de France, where a number of riders named in the case are due to compete, including Damiano Cunego.
     

  • Pozzato must be braver, says De Vlaeminck

    Filippo Pozzato (Farnese Vini - Selle Italia)
    Article published:
    April 07, 2012, 15:45 BST
    By:
    Cycling News

    Four-time Roubaix winner names Boonen as favourite

    Four-time Paris-Roubaix winner Roger De Vlaeminck has called on Filippo Pozzato (Farnese Vini-Selle Italia) to show more courage in his quest to win the Hell of the North on Sunday. While De Vlaeminck believes that Tom Boonen (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) is the favourite to win Paris-Roubaix, he was impressed with Pozzato’s display at the Tour of Flanders last weekend.

    “In Flanders [Pozzato] was the strongest, he showed it with what he did on the Paterberg,” De Vlaeminck told Gazzetta dello Sport. “I really like him as a rider, his style on the pavé is exemplary. He’s beautiful to watch on a bike, but sometimes he should have more courage and not settle for a placing, because in a sprint with Boonen he is going to be beaten the majority of the time. He has a great chance at this Roubaix, he mustn’t let it go.”

    In particular, De Vlaeminck noted that Pozzato appears leaner than he has done in years gone by. “On television, I noted that he was thinner than I remembered,” he said. “Good for him.”

    In spite of his admiration for Pozzato’s stylish showing in the finale of the Tour of Flanders, De Vlaeminck reckons that the Italian had inadvertently helped Boonen to victory by bridging across to Alessandro Ballan (BMC) on the Oude Kwaremont.

    “When Ballan went on the Kwaremont, wasn’t it Pozzato who countered and brought Boonen with him? Only for that, I think Ballan could have finished alone,” De Vlaeminck said. “It’s true that he and Ballan don’t ride for the same team and so he did his own race and tried to win, but it still suited Boonen that it was like that.”

    Boonen is on course to equal De...

  • Guesdon ready for swansong at Paris-Roubaix

    Frederic Guesdon (FDJ-BigMat) is on course to race Paris-Roubaix.
    Article published:
    April 07, 2012, 17:51 BST
    By:
    Brecht Decaluwé

    40-year-old's final race tomorrow, 15 years after victory on the cobbles

    Frédéric Guesdon (FDJ-Big Mat) is the last French winner of Paris-Roubaix, the legendary French cycling monument. Guesdon won the race in 1997 and this time around he’s riding his last race of his long career. One of the many young riders flanking Guesdon is Steve Chainel who hopes to become the next French winner of the biggest French one-day race.

    When walking up to the FDJ-Big Mat team bus on Saturday a big sticker grabs the attention. It titles ‘Merci Fred’ and shows a young Frédéric Guesdon who’s lifting his 1997 Paris-Roubaix cobble trophy in the air at the vélodrome in Roubaix. On Sunday, the 40 year-old Frenchman not only rides his last Hell Classic but also his last race as a professional cyclist.

    “I've changed a lot," Guesdon said. "Back then I was a bit fat and chubby; I was young but won Paris-Roubaix. Now we’re fifteen years later and we’re back at Paris-Roubaix. arriving with mixed emotions. I’m excited because it’s a race that I love but since I’m not in top form I’m also feeling down-hearted."

    Back in January at the Tour Down Under the Frenchman received a huge blow when a crash resulted in a broken hip. At first it was questionable that he would ever get back on the bike, later it seemed that he would not get ready for Paris-Roubaix but in the end Guesdon made great progress. On the eve of the race he’s ready to go although not at 100 per cent. The fact that the team figured they should pay tribute to Guesdon meant they respected him a lot. “I’m not often thinking about it but it seems like I left my mark,” Guesdon said.

    After rolling in from their easy training...

  • Video: Vansummeren on trying to defend Paris-Roubaix title

    Johan Vansummeren (Garmin - Barracuda) leads his teammates
    Article published:
    April 07, 2012, 19:30 BST
    By:
    Daniel Benson

    Belgian is calm and collected on race eve

    Twelve months ago Garmin was on the verge of a disastrous Classics campaign. Out of sorts and out of shape the team was without a result heading into Paris-Roubaix. Johan Vansummeren changed all of that with his win on the Roubaix velodrome, a triumph that encapsulated Garmin's ethos to be seen as a team, rather than a group of individuals.

    A year on from Vansummeren's win and Garmin-Barracuda is in a different position. Their spring campaign has been better than most, with Sep Vanmarcke winning Omloop in February, and holding his form throughout the subsequent months, with 7th in Dwars Door Vlaanderen and 5th in E3 Harelbeke.

    After a slightly disappointing Tour of Flanders in which Vanmarcke ran out of gas, attention turns back to Vansummeren, one of Garmin's most consistent and experienced Roubaix riders.

    At the presentation in Compiegne today Vansummeren was the same as ever, calm and cool as his long limbs stretched their way to the podium to be introduced to the crowd. A Roubaix win has hardly changed the 31-year-old, who displays no evidence of ego despite wining one of cycling's most illustrious races. The only difference to last year's presentation is the number of autographs he must sign in between his walk from the team bus to the square in Compiegne.

    "I don't let [being defending champion] put too much pressure on me," Vansummeren told Cyclingnews in this exclusive video.

    "I always want to be good here, it's one of my goals for the season, whether I'm the defending champion or not."

    If he is to retain his Paris-Roubaix crown Vansummeren will surely have to employ different tactics to last year, when he...

  • Degenkolb seeks top-ten finish at Paris-Roubaix

    John Degenkolb (1T4i)
    Article published:
    April 07, 2012, 20:15 BST
    By:
    Daniel Benson

    Argos-Shimano squad on high morale after Tour wildcard bid

    John Degenkolb (Argos-Shimano) heads into his second Paris-Roubaix with aspirations of a top ten place, having finished 19th last year.

    The 23-year-old German leads the Argos-Shimano team, who, having received a wildcard invite to the Tour de France just yesterday, will be striving to pay back organisers ASO, who organise both the Tour and Paris-Roubaix.

    "I showed in the last few weeks that my shape isn't bad and that I can follow the best. I hope I can achieve a top ten result," Degenkolb told Cyclingnews.

    "I've trained every day over the winter and it's a race I'd like to one day win. I'm really looking forward to tomorrow. I'll give it everything and I have nothing to lose, that's my big advantage."

    Last year Degenkolb attacked after the Arenberg Forest and came home in an impressive 19th place. It marked him out as a potential challenger for the future. This year he has impressed further with a string of results, including 5th in Milan-San Remo and 6th in E3 Harelbeke.

    Both races have different parcours and the cobbles of Paris-Roubaix will test him further still.

    "We'll see how the race goes, the first major point will be at the Arenberg and from there we'll decide what tactics to play."

    Unlike last year Degenkolb may find himself marked out of an early break, meaning he will need to follow when the favourites put the hammer down in the final 50 kilometres. But whatever tactic the German is asked to play his firm focus is on the top ten.

    "Of course the likes of Tom Boonen and Pippo Pozzato are the favourites. In this race you can't count out Thor Hushovd either and there are a few guys who can win...