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First Edition Cycling News, Saturday, August 22, 2009

Date published:
August 22, 2009, 1:00 BST
  • Boonen wins at home

    Tom Boonen (Quick Step) on the podium after his stage win.
    Article published:
    August 21, 2009, 20:38 BST
    Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor

    First victory for the Belgian since national championship

    Quick Step's Tom Boonen won the 158.3km stage three of the Eneco Tour from Niel to Hasselt on Friday. The Belgian was racing on his home roads, on which he outsprinted runner-up Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Slipstream) and Francesco Chi.cchi (Team Liquigas).

    "This is my first victory wearing the Belgian National Champion's jersey since I won it earlier this year," said a happy Boonen. "I was looking forward to this stage, and it was important to me to do well."

    Racing at home was extra motivation for Boonen. "We passed in front of the house where I was born, where my parents and relatives live, and we rode through places where I usually train."

    "To win here, in front of my fans, is really satisfying, and only makes this day more perfect. The rest period after the Tour de France did me well. My physical conditioning is getting better and better."

    Boonen admitted his form wasn't the best during the Tour de France, a race from which he withdrew in July. "In France I wasn't in the best of shape. The Tour is a challenging race and you have to be in top form to give it your best. However, now I feel like I'm back in fighting form, and I can have a good, competitive end of the season."

  • Liquigas sets Vuelta line-up

    Italy's Ivan Basso (Liquigas)
    Article published:
    August 21, 2009, 22:45 BST
    Cycling News

    Basso, Bennati, Kreuziger called to race

    Liquigas-Doimo will bring many of its star riders to the start of the 64th Vuelta a España, in Assen, the Netherlands. The squad wants to field its best for the Spanish Grand Tour including Ivan Basso, Daniele Bennati, Roman Kreuziger and Manuele Quinziato.

    "We like to face the most important events of the season with our best," said team manager Roberto Amadio. "In the Giro and the Tour, we fought at the front for stage wins and solid GC places. We want to face the Vuelta with the same conviction."

    Maciej Bodnar, Kjell Carlström, Fabio Sabatini, Sylwester Szmyd and Oliver Zaugg will join the others to make a full nine-rider team. All will race under the guidance of directeur sportif Stefano Zanatta and Mario Scirea.

    "The line-up is assorted and well balanced," said Zanatta, "and allows us to think of the general ranking and single stage victories. The first week is good for sprinters and therefore for Bennati. He will have the support of Quinziato, Sabatini and Bodnar, for precious help in the last kilometres of the flat stages. From the second week onward, the route will begin to go up and the battle for the general classification will start."

    Basso has just finished off a training period that will help him go for his goal of winning," said Zanatta. "The Giro was the first important engagement after his return. The help of Szmyd, Carlström and Zaugg will be important, as well as the support of Kreuziger."

    Zanatta also though Krueziger would have a chance to continue to improve his already good form, with a view toward the World Championship in Mendrisio.

    The Vuelta a España will start August 29 and run through September 20.

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  • Garate back in contention for Vuelta start

    Juan Manuel Garate (Rabobank)
    Article published:
    August 22, 2009, 10:14 BST
    Richard Tyler

    Rabobank pleased with Gesink's condition at Limousin

    Juan Manuel Garate's hopes of competing in the Vuelta a España are back on track, three weeks after breaking his hand at the Clásica San Sebastián. The Spaniard has told his team, Rabobank, that he has returned to full training and will be considered for the Dutch team's final Vuelta line-up, to be announced next week.

    "The choice [of team for the Vuelta a España] will be very difficult," said Rabobank directeur sportif Frans Maassen. Tour de France stage winner at Mont Ventoux, Garate has been named in the ProTour squad's ten-man long list that also includes Robert Gesink, Pieter Weening, Oscar Freire, Lars Boom, Mauricio Ardila, Tom Leezer, Paul Martens, Koos Moerenhout and Bram Tankink.

    Maassen, who was directeur for the team at the Tour of Limousin, said that despite narrowly missing victory in the final stage through Paul Martens on Friday, he was pleased with the French race as preparation for the Vuelta a España. Seven of the riders being considered for the Spanish Grand Tour took part in the four-day French race.

    Martens' third place on the final stage matched his effort on the first day of the race, while Koos Mourenhout finished eighth overall. Maasen was particularly encouraged by the form shown by Robert Gesink to pull back a dangerous break on the final stage. "Robert was driving on the front and rode strongly to close the gap to the squad leaders."

    Gesink finished seventh overall at last year's Vuelta, his Grand Tour debut. The 2009 Vuelta a España begins next Saturday, August 29,in Assen, the Netherlands.

    Rabobank Vuelta a Espana long list: Mauricio Ardila, Lars Boom, Oscar Freire, Robert Gesink, Juan Manuel Garate, Tom Leezer, Paul Martens, Koos Moerenhout, Bram Tankink and Pieter Weening

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  • Columbia looks to young riders in 2010

    The Team Columbia-HTC train drives the pace.
    Article published:
    August 22, 2009, 12:20 BST
    Susan Westemeyer

    Cavendish and Greipel to lead things as many youngster come to the team

    Team Columbia-HTC will be younger and perhaps larger in 2010, according to sport director Rolf Aldag. It will continue to look to Mark Cavendish and Andre Greipel to lead the team with victories, but it wouldn't hurt to also have someone for the overall rankings in stage races, too, he admitted.

    Interviewed on, Aldag said that, without naming names, many young riders would joint the team for the coming season, and that “because of that we might have to make the team a bit bigger than this year. With our 25 riders, we are just about at our limits for a ProTour team.”

    In the past, he noted, the team has shown “that we can work well with young riders and bring them to the top,” citing, for example, Tony Martin, Edvald Boasson Hagen and Cavendish. In fact, he noted, “We are in a very luxurious situation, because a lot of young riders want to come to us.”

    Aldag pointed out how the team has helped Martin to slowly develop. “His first year was his introduction, 2009 he was very strong, and we hope that in 2010 he will be more settled.” The next logical step for the 23-year-old in Grand Tours “is that he eliminates the two bad days that he had and ride consistently over the three weeks. Then it is realistic that he can finish eighth to twelfth. After that, we will see how it goes.”

    Looking back at the 2009 season so far, he said that the pre-season goal “was to raise the quality of our wins. We wanted to concentrate on the most important events. That has worked out very well so far with Milano-Sanremo, the Giro and the Tour.”

    The highlight win of the season, Aldag noted, was Cavendish's win in Milano-Sanremo, followed by the high number of wins in both the Giro d'Italia and the Tour de France. The most surprising rider was Frantisek Rabon, who finished second in the Criterium International. “He has improved himself from a...

  • Turgot and Offredo ruled out of Vuelta a España

    Sebastian Turgot (Bbox Bougues Telecom) will definitely need a new bike for the next stage.
    Article published:
    August 22, 2009, 14:03 BST
    Richard Tyler

    Frenchmen to miss Spanish Tour after Eneco crash

    Frenchmen Sébastien Turgot (Bbox Bouygues Telecom) and Yoann Offredo (Française des Jeux) have both been ruled out of the Vuelta a España after they broke bones this week at the Eneco Tour. Both riders had been expected to race at the Spanish Grand Tour for their respective teams.

    Turgot was diagnosed with a broken ankle on Friday, while Offredo has a broken collarbone. The riders suffered their injuries in a crash at the end of the first road stage of the Benelux Tour.

    Turgot had been expected to start the second road stage, however examination of the injury on Friday morning revealed the break and his team, BBox Bouygues Telecom, have confirmed that he will not race again this season.

    Offredo suffered a broken collarbone and will now miss a start in what would have been his first Grand Tour. On the Française des Jeux website, directeur sportif Martial Gayant said the injury was a blow to the 22-year-old rider.

    "I spoke to Yoann in the ambulance that transported him to the hospital, at that stage it hadn't been confirmed, but he was sure it was broken," said Gayant. "It's hard for him, he had been working very hard and was looking forward to his first Grand Tour."

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  • Vos and Johansson take the World Cup to the wire

    Marianne Vos (DSB Bank) on the podium after her victory in the women's La Flèche Wallonne.
    Article published:
    August 22, 2009, 16:47 BST
    Ben Atkins

    Both also look ahead to Mendrisio world championships

    With just three points dividing the two main contenders at the start of today's penultimate round of the Women's World Cup in Plouay, France, the competition promises to be the closest for many years. Emma Johansson (Red Sun Cycling) is the current wearer of the jersey since wresting it from the shoulders of chief rival Marianne Vos (DSB Bank - Nederland Bloeit) after taking second in the Montreal, Canada round in May.

    The pair have been exchanging the jersey between themselves since Vos beat Johansson in the first round in Cittiglio, Italy in March, only to see the Swede take it from her after winning round three in Drenthe, in April. Victory in La Fleche Wallonne and second at the Tour de Berne saw the Dutch champion take it back, only to see Johansson's strong performances in Sweden and Canada put her in the lead once more.

    "Yeah, it's very close; very, very close!" said Johansson.

    With the flatter sprinter's course at Nürnberg probably suiting the talents of Vos, the fast rolling roads around Plouay probably suit Johansson just as much as the Dutch champion. "It's a very nice course," said Johansson. "I like racing here but I know that Marianne likes racing here's just going to be nice racing today. I really look forward to it.

    "It's going to be like...two races to go and it's going to be a big fight. In one way I really want to win the jersey - like Marianne - but in the end I would race to win and I'm going to do so today - and in Nürnberg also. It's another race and we'll see what happens; if I win then I take the jersey, if I don't then someone else does."

    Just two weeks after the final World Cup are the World Championships in Mendrisio, Switzerland. Both Vos and Johansson were protagonists in the closing stages last year and Johansson is confident that her good form this season should continue until then.

    "I'm feeling good and always for the Worlds. I'm normally in good shape. I had a...

  • Zirbel passes final test before US Pro time trial championships

    Tom Zirbel (Bissell) flew around the course today to come in with the best time.
    Article published:
    August 22, 2009, 20:30 BST
    Kirsten Frattini

    In-form Bissell rider hoping to take top step at nationals

    Bissell’s Tom Zirbel is hoping to do one better than second place this year at the US Pro time trial Championships, to be held in Greenville, South Carolina next Saturday. The specialist recently won the Tour of Utah’s stage three time trial, passing the test before what he deems the most important race of the year.

    "My goal is to improve upon my second place," said Zirbel. "My approach hasn’t changed. I just prepare myself the best I can, just like I did last year and go as hard as I can. I doesn’t matter how [Dave] Zabriskie is feeling or if Levi Leipheimer shows up or how he’s feeling. There are a lot of ifs. All I can ask for is to just put out my best race of the year. I’ve been thinking about it for a long time and I’m confident."

    Last year’s 33.4km championship course saw Zirbel place second to Zabriskie by a mere five seconds. According to Zirbel, the lost time may have come from Zabriskie’s more experienced technical ability, however such small details are nearly impossible to quantify.

    "I’ve visualized it and I know that I have to fight for every second," Zirbel said. "I have to prepare myself in every possible way because it always comes down to those little details. I’m going to focus on my cornering. It’s such a technical course that I may have lost the race last year because of that. I know I have room for improvement on the corners. But, the most important thing is getting myself to the start line in the best possible position and I think I’ll be good."

    Zirbel outstanding time trial performances have brought with them ample attention from the domestic and international cycling community. He has won nearly every time trial he has entered in this season, most of them followed by an overall race leader’s jersey.

    "Yeah, I get a lot of attention from the time trial," Zirbel said. "It’s added pressure for sure, but I...

  • Cavendish marks 21st victory of 2009 in Ireland

    Mark Cavendish (Columbia-HTC) wins stage two in Killarney
    Article published:
    August 22, 2009, 22:02 BST
    Cycling News

    Briton claims fourth career stage win at the Tour of Ireland

    Mark Cavendish (Team Columbia-HTC) sprinted to his twenty-first victory of the season in stage two of the Tour of Ireland on Saturday.

    "It's always good to win," Cavendish said, "and though it was a tough finish we managed to take control of things with two kilometres to go. It was a team win, one guy crosses the line with his arms in the air, but it's a success for everybody.

    "This is the first time I've gone really deep since July," said Cavendish, winner of six stages in the 2009 Tour de France. "I'm not going to be going for the overall here, but for sure it's an objective for the team. We won it last year with an amazing ride on the last day, and I think we can do it again."

    After the Tour of Ireland, Cavendish's next race will be the Tour of Missouri in the United States from September 7 to 13.

    "My objective there is a stage win. After that, I'll go on to the World Championships where I'll be going to support my teammates. Then I want to do Paris-Tours."

    Saturday's victory was Cavendish's fourth career stage victory in the Tour of Ireland and the 68th win of the season for his team.