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First Edition Cycling News, Saturday, August 20, 2011

Date published:
August 20, 2011, 1:00 BST
  • Separatists unhappy about the Vuelta a Espana visiting Basque Country

    The Vuelta a Espana peloton in the 2010 edition of the race.
    Article published:
    August 19, 2011, 22:30 BST
    Pierre Carrey

    Race returns to area for first time since 1978

    The Vuelta a España, which will start on Saturday in Benidorm, is facing protests from separatist Basque movements. For the first time in 33 years, the race is going to visit that region of Spain on stages 19 (Noja-Bilbao) and 20 (Bilbao-Vitoria).

    Thursday, Basque militants from ESAIT did a press conference to blame the cities hosting the race. That local lobby has fought since 1995 for recognition of Basque sport and the creation of official Basque teams in international competitions.

    They said the two Vuelta's stages are "the consequence of a political decision from the PSE [Spanish Socialist Workers' Party, left wing] and the PP [People's Party, right wing] to show a political normalization". They also claimed that the race is not welcome "because Euskal Herria [the Basque Country] is not a community of Spain, but is a nation".

    ESAIT added, however, they "totally respected" the Vuelta's riders and denied that they had claimed a race "boycott".

    For two months, some Basque organisations have presented a hostile position toward the race.

    On June 24, separatist coalition Bidu castigated local involvement as "a waste of money". They pointed out that the organisers wouldn't give the authorities a return on their invested money by having the race entourage sleep in the area after stage 19, as a transfer was planned to the final stage in Madrid.

    Bidu suggested that the cost of €109,700 to host one stage could be invested in local amateur sport.

    On July 20, the same separatist coalition protested the Vuelta using two former cyclists as spokesmen. Unai Extebarria, a Venezuelian-born but Basque assimilated, a professional with Euskaltel-Euskadi from 1997 to 2007, supported the campaign against the race in which he...

  • TD Bank Mayor's Cup Pro Race returns to Boston

    Daniel Holloway (Kelly Benefit Strategies)
    Article published:
    August 20, 2011, 0:18 BST
    Cycling News

    $40,000 in prize money up for grabs

    Boston is set to host its 3rd annual TD Bank Mayor's Cup Pro Race on September 25, with Olympians and national champions competing for one of the largest prize purses in pro cycling - $20,000 for men and $20,000 for women.

    "We are really excited about year three. The first two years have surpassed our expectations in terms of the crowd and the all-star talent that turned out," said Nicole Freedman, Boston's Director of Bike Programs. "Criterium races make for one of the most fan-friendly styles of racing out there. We're anticipating that this year will make for even more outstanding entertainment and continue to drive the message of Mayor Menino's vision for a vibrant cycling community."

    Spectators will be treated to a mix of more than 200 rising stars and proven legends as they descend upon the historic streets of downtown Boston. In such a rabid sports town, racers can expect an impressive crowd of 10,000 - 15,000 cycling diehards and casual sports fans to gather for high speed, fast action racing, navigating 50-70 laps of a tight .7 mile circuit around Government Center.

    The $40,000 prize purse, one of the largest in the country for a criterium, will be split evenly between the men's and women's races, with money going to the overall top finishers in each race, as well as in the primes. For each race, $15,000 to be awarded over 20 places and $5,000 will be awarded in primes. The women's race will last for 60 minutes, followed by 90 minutes of men's racing. The pro races will be the signature event of the TD Bank Cycling Celebration, the East Coast's largest cycling festival.

    In 2010, the men's winner was Daniel Holloway and the women's winner was Lauren Tamayo. According to Lauren, "The race was extremely well run – a great addition to the race calendar and the city of...

  • Sunderland to direct 51st Grafton to Inverell Cycle Classic

    Scott Sunderland before the final stage of the 2008 Vuelta a España
    Article published:
    August 20, 2011, 3:07 BST
    Cycling News

    Entries now being accepted

    Entries are now open for the 2011 Grafton to Inverell Cycle Classic.

    On the back of last year's historic 50th event with a record-breaking contingent of starters, the organising committee is looking forward to hosting riders from many parts of eastern Australia again on Saturday the 22nd of October.

    In 2010, Nathan Earle (Genesys Wealth Advisers) prevailed over breakaway companion Brendan Brooks ( in a nail-biting finish in the men's race, while Loren Rowney (Lifecycle CC QLD) bettered her third placing the year before in the women's.

    The McDonalds men's divisions will feature Elite, B and C Grades commencing in Grafton and heading across the Gibralter and Waterloo Ranges via Glen Innes to Inverell, a distance of 228 kilometres.

    The Celtic Country Classic de Femme Ladies Elite competitors will again start in Glen Innes, take in the farmland of Red Range and then head west to Inverell via the Elsmore loop.

    The ladies B-Grade field will race directly from Glen Innes to Inverell.

    Minimum overall prize money of $20,000 is being offered.

    Former International star Scott Sunderland has returned to his home town of Inverell and has accepted the role of Race Director of the men's sections, and experienced race official Robert Munday will have control of the ladies divisions.

    Entries and details are available at


  • Nibali and Liquigas-Cannondale last out of Benindorm start house

    Vincenzo Nibali looks focused before the start
    Article published:
    August 20, 2011, 5:36 BST
    Cycling News

    Tricky team time trial begins 66th Vuelta a España

    A highly technical 13.5 kilometre team time trial course awaits teams for the 66th Vuelta a España, with defending champion Vincenzo Nibali and his Liquigas-Cannondale team last out of the start house in the coastal resort town of Benindorm.

    Teams will depart every four minutes shortly after 5pm local time with Skil-Shimano the first to set a time.

    With last year's stage winners HTC-Highroad, Garmin-Cervelo, Sky and Liquigas-Cannondale all expected to be in the mix for the podium this evening, Leopard Trek Sports Director Lars Michaelsen was realistic of the challenge ahead for his team.

    "We are aiming for a top five finish on the stage with the goal of keeping Fuglsang and Monfort protected," said Michaelsen. "The team time trial will be hard. It starts along the coast and the first four kilometers are steep - all uphill. I expect there could be drama here for certain teams.

    "It will be interesting to see how many riders each team has left at the finish line," Michaelsen continued. "The rules say you must finish with five, and I think teams will have to decide who to protect and who to drop. They will have to speculate on how best to use up their riders."

    For HTC-Highroad, Stage 1 marks the beginning of the end as the team embarks on its final Grand Tour. With the aim of going out on a high, the team has also enlisted HTC-Highroad's...

  • Van den Broeck signs with Lotto

    Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Omega Pharma-Lotto) savours his first pro win
    Article published:
    August 20, 2011, 7:21 BST
    Cycling News

    Manager confirms four-year deal has been signed

    As originally speculated in June, Jurgen Van den Broeck will ride for the new team to be sponsored by the Belgian national lottery following Lotto's split with Omega Pharma.

    Van Den Broeck, who will lead Omega Pharma-Lotto at the Vuelta a España starting this evening in Benindorm, has agreed to terms with the fledgling outfit for the next four seasons, his manager confirmed.

    "We will do everything to work in the coming years based on the Tour, which remains the main objective of Jurgen," said Jef Van den Bosch.

    "Lotto will also strive to surround it with a competitive team," he continued. "We should know more in the coming weeks. We believe that this can be a wonderful project."

    The 28-year-old was forced to retire injured from this year's Tour de France following a crash on Stage 9. It was a disappointing end for a rider who had surprised many with his fifth placing the year before.

    Omega Pharma and Lotto have been team co-sponsors since 2005. They announced earlier this year that their co-operation would stop at the end of this season. Both have said that they want to continue sponsoring cycling teams.


  • Lefevere disappointed with Gilbert's BMC switch

    Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma-Lotto) had to settle for second overall.
    Article published:
    August 20, 2011, 10:33 BST
    Cycling News

    Quick Step boss critical of agent

    Quick Step manager Patrick Lefevere has expressed his dismay at Philippe Gilbert’s decision to sign for BMC for the 2012 season. After a protracted transfer saga, the Belgian champion announced his new team on Friday.

    In recent weeks, Gilbert’s options had been narrowed to two teams, BMC and Lefevere’s revamped Quick Step-Omega Pharma outfit.

    “I spoke with Gilbert about the classics. Two weeks ago, I met him by chance in Monaco. We had a friendly chat. He told me that he still hadn’t decided anything,” Lefevere told Sporza.

    While Lefevere remained hopeful of landing Gilbert in spite of the strong rumours linking him to BMC, negotiations with the rider’s agent, Vincent Wathelet, stalled on Thursday.

    “On Thursday, I spoke with Gilbert’s agent,” Lefevere said. “We spoke about conditions, and suddenly, Philippe didn’t want to come, for stupid reasons, including our conflict with the UCI over earpieces. Too stupid for words.

    “I’m not completed surprised. Everybody in the peloton knew the rumours about BMC. I feel that Gilbert has led us on.”

    Lefevere’s hopes of landing Gilbert appeared to receive a boost in early August, when it was announced that Omega Pharma would merge with his Quick Step squad next season. It was reported that Gilbert was under contract for 2012 with the Belgian Cycling Company (BCC), the holding company for Omega Pharma’s cycling operation.

    However, Gilbert’s agent Wathelet contended...

  • Boonen takes aim at Vuelta a España sprints

    Tom Boonen (Quick Step) returns to action in Poland.
    Article published:
    August 20, 2011, 12:23 BST
    Cycling News

    Belgian looking forward to "less chaotic" finales

    Tom Boonen (Quick Step) is determined to make a serious impact in the Vuelta a España’s sprint stages. The Belgian lines up in Benidorm on Saturday not only with the intention of preparing for the world championships, but also with the aim of winning a stage in Spain.

    Boonen was forced out of the Tour de France with concussion after a heavy fall on stage 5. Although still feeling his way back into competitive action following his return at the Tour of Poland, Boonen is hopeful that the Vuelta’s seemingly uncomplicated sprint finishes can play to his advantage.

    “The Vuelta is a very important race for me to prepare the Autumn and for next season,” Boonen told Het Nieuwsblad. “I studied the course carefully on Thursday evening and I’ve picked out a couple of stages where I can do something, even in the mass sprints against riders like Cavendish, Haussler and Farrar.

    “The Vuelta is not the same as the Tour. The sprints are not as chaotic. I really like the Vuelta and I already won here twice in 2008.”

    Boonen also admitted that he is still feeling some after-effects from his Tour de France crash, but is confident that his performance on the bike will not be unduly affected.

    “It’s not too bad when I’m on the bike, but I’m still feeling it a bit in the neck and shoulders,” Boonen said. “The doctor told me that the stiffness I feel in the mornings could go on for half a year.”

  • Kristoff signs for Katusha

    Alexander Kristoff (Nor) BMC Racing Team
    Article published:
    August 20, 2011, 13:16 BST
    Cycling News

    Norwegian champion leaves BMC

    While BMC have dominated the transfer headlines in August through their big-name signings, one man leaving the team for 2012 is Alexander Kristoff. The Norwegian champion has signed a two-year deal with Katusha.

    “I’m very happy to have reached this agreement with Katusha,” Kristoff said. “It was the team I was dreaming of, the one which – on a technical level – offered me the most solid guarantees.”

    Kristoff burst onto the scene by beating Thor Hushovd to the Norwegian title as a 19-year-old in 2007 and joined BMC ahead of the 2010 season. His biggest win in two years at the team was victory in this season’s national championships. After discussions with Andrei Tchmil, Kristoff has decided to continue his development at Katusha.

    “It was enough for Andrei Tchmil, in few words, to outline the team’s future plans for me to understand that this was the best choice for my career,” Kristoff said. “I hope I can repay the team manager’s faith with results. Without any doubt, I'll commit myself with dedication. I know that this is a big chance, and I'll do my best to take full advantage of this."

    In recent weeks, the Russian squad has also moved quickly to secure Valerio Piva’s services as directeur sportif following the demise of HTC-Highroad.