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First Edition Cycling News, Saturday, August 7, 2010

Date published:
August 07, 2010, 1:00 BST
  • Contador clarifies Grand Tour triple

    Alberto Contador mingles with his fans back in Pinto.
    Article published:
    August 06, 2010, 10:35 BST
    Hedwig Kröner

    Three Grand Tours in one year is "a dream"

    Tour de France champion Alberto Contador has finally reacted to the speculation prompted by his future team manager Bjarne Riis, who said earlier this week that one of the objectives of their collaboration would be to win three Grand Tours in one season, a feat that has never been achieved before. Contador's brother and agent, Fran, quickly downplayed the supposed objective, but on Friday, Contador again gave it some more momentum.

    The Spaniard revealed that while he realises the difficulty of a Grand Tour triple, he does not rule it out completely. "It is a dream, and I don't know if it is impossible," he said. "I think one can race all three Grand Tours on a good level, but from that assumption to say that one can win them - that is very different. I'm aware that it is practically impossible, but maybe one day in the future... It's a dream. Everybody has dreams and that one is mine."

    For now, though, he is happy to start off with two Grand Tours next season. "I think I will do two Grand Tours next year. I don't know which ones yet, but I already have to start changing my training system a little and perhaps start the new season a little more relaxed," Contador added.

    Fewer disturbances are exactly what Contador is looking for at Saxo Bank-SunGard in the wake of some rather disruptive years at Astana. One of the primary reasons for his change of team was "Riis' seriousness and work philosophy", according to the 27-year-old. "This will give me the tranquillity that I did not have these last few years. He also has great experience in always having directed the best riders. This will allow me to take on all challenges. This was the best choice for me. I'm happy and I'm already eager to start our new project."

    Contador also believes that the new alliance will further tighten his grip on the Tour de France, as both Riis and himself can now provide important information to each other. "It's a win-win situation," he continued. "I have...

  • Barredo to Rabobank?

    Carlos Barredo talks with the press
    Article published:
    August 06, 2010, 11:51 BST
    Hedwig Kröner

    Dutch team more versatile as Menchov's departure likely

    The post-Tour de France period is always a hive of transfer activity and Dutch team Rabobank is among the squads that is making important changes in view of next season. According to the Telegraaf, and as has been rumoured in various media sources in the past two weeks, the transfer of Carlos Barredo from Quick Step has been finalised.

    The Spaniard has reportedly signed a two-year contract with the Dutch team as the third foreign signing into the squad for 2011. Dane Matti Breschel is also moving to the squad directed by Erik Breukink, as well as Luis Leon Sanchez from Caisse d'Epargne, the Telegraaf claims.

    Barredo, if the signing is confirmed, is likely to replace Koos Moerenhout, who will hang up his bike at the end of this season. Being a good climber, he can play a key role for the team in the mountains and compete for one-day victories himself, like he did last year at the Clasica San Sebastian.

    Denis Menchov, Dmitry Kozontchuk and Nick Nuyens are meanwhile reported to leave the team, which would then lack a true Grand Tour leader. Even though Sanchez finished 11th at this year's Tour de France, the 26-year-old would still aim at smaller stage races such as the Tour Down Under, Paris-Nice - which he won in 2009 - or the Tour of California.

    2010 Tour podium finisher Menchov is meanwhile linked to the Astana or Katusha teams, but nothing has been confirmed as yet. If Barredo, Breschel and Sanchez indeed come on board the Rabobank team, possibly replacing Menchov and Nuyens, the squad would somewhat change its physiognomy to become more versatile on all sorts of race terrains, privileging stage victories over the general classification hunt at Grand Tours.

    Furthermore, neo-pros Tom-Jelte Slagter and Coen Vermeltfoort are reported to be making the big leap into the ProTour ranks from the Rabobank Espoir team.

    Contacted by Cyclingnews, Rabobank team press officer Luuc Eisenga did not...

  • Grabsch extends with HTC-Columbia

    Bert Grabsch (HTC-Columbia)
    Article published:
    August 06, 2010, 15:17 BST
    Cycling News

    Veteran to stay at team through 2012

    Bert Grabsch has extended his contract with HTC-Columbia for another two seasons. The former world time trial champion has been with the team since 2007, having previously spent six seasons in Phonak colours.

    “I'm happy to be with HTC-Columbia for the next two years,” said Grabsch. “I know what I have in this team. The last three years were very successful here for me and I hope that will continue.”

    At 35 years of age, Grabsch is one of the elder statesmen of the squad, but he is certain that his appetite for racing remains strong. “I still have the motivation for professional cycling and I get this with HTC-Columbia,” he explained.

    Team manager Rolf Aldag was delighted to secure the services of one of the key elements of Mark Cavendish’s train.

    “He works very hard, is always loyal to his captain and we can always count on him when it comes to a situation where we have to chase down breakaways or need a good time trial result. He showed some incredible performances in the recent Tour de France and paved the way for many of our stage victories in the sprint stages,” Aldag said. “Bert's commitment is a very good example for many of our young riders.”

  • Tour of Poland honours holocaust victims

    34 countries are represented at the Tour of Poland, a rider from each nation left a white rose to remember victims by.
    Article published:
    August 06, 2010, 17:39 BST
    Cycling News

    Riders visit Auschwitz before stage six start

    Riders of the Tour of Poland had a solemn start to Friday's sixth stage, with riders taking a stop at the site of the Auschwitz concentration camp to honour the victims of the holocaust.

    Before riders departed for the 228.5km stage from Oswiecim to Terma Bukowina Tatrzanska, they took pause to observe a minute of silence at the site of the former Auschwitz II Birkenau concentration camp. One rider from each of the 34 countries represented at the Tour left a white rose at the barbed wire fence as symbol to remember the estimated 1.1 million holocaust victims who were killed at the site in World War II.

    The riders also passed by the infamous "Arbeit macht frei" symbol of the Nazi regime. The 16-foot long metal sign was stolen from the camp in 2009 and cut into three pieces by the thieves before it was eventually recovered.

    "Auschwitz was the theatre of one of the most tragic pages in the history of mankind," said Tour of Poland director Czeslaw Lang. "With this commemoration we wanted to try and send a message of universal peace, equality, brotherhood and transnational solidarity. Those are fundamental values that are stronger than linguistic, ideological or religious barriers, and they are the basis of both sports as a whole and cycling. They are values that both sports and cycling can and must help spread worldwide."

    The Tour of Poland concludes on Saturday.

  • Van de Walle moves to Omega Pharma-Lotto

    Jurgen Van De Walle (Quick Step) celebrates his repeat victory in Halle - Ingooigem.
    Article published:
    August 06, 2010, 18:30 BST
    Barry Ryan

    Guesdon and Curvers extend contracts

    Jurgen Van de Walle has crossed the Belgian cycling divide and will leave Quick Step at the end of the season to join rivals Omega Pharma-Lotto. According to his new squad, he has signed a two-year contract.

    The 33-year-old turned professional in 1999 and has five victories to his name, including the last two editions of Halle-Ingooigem. He also finished an impressive third in this season’s Brabantse Pijl.

    Meanwhile, Frédéric Guesdon has extended his contract with La Française des Jeux for another season, according to L’Equipe. The Breton has been an ever-present in Marc Madiot's squad since its formation in 1997, when he won Paris-Roubaix. He turns 39 in October and in the absence of Christophe Moreau will be the oldest French rider in the peloton in 2011.

    Guesdon had previously hinted at retirement ahead of the 2008 season, but victory in that year’s Tro Bro Leon persuaded him to continue. He won Paris-Tours in 2006 and remains the last Frenchman to win Paris-Roubaix. He was competitive on the cobbles this spring and today’s contract extension means that he will again be present to lead FDJ’s classics assault next season.

    Roy Curvers (Skil-Shimano) has also extended his contract for 2011. The Dutchman had solid top twenty finishes at both the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and Ghent-Wevelgem this season and was a very visible presence throughout the spring. Although he has yet to record a victory in the red and white stripes of Skil-Shimano, Curvers has become a team captain for the squad this season, and management expect him “to continue to make strides” in this area in 2011.

  • Trek officials speak with federal investigators

    Old and new: the US Postal paint scheme (L) vs. the Discovery Channel paint-job.
    Article published:
    August 07, 2010, 10:33 BST
    Barry Ryan

    Inquiry into Landis allegations continues

    Officials from Trek Bicycle Corp. have spoken with federal investigators as part of the probe investigating Floyd Landis’ allegations of doping in the US Postal Service team, according to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. Trek supplied bicycles to the now-defunct squad at the centre of the investigation.

    “We have been contacted [by federal investigators], and we have provided information,” said Trek spokesman Bill Mashek. “We are cooperating fully in the investigation.”

    He explained that company officials had been contacted before the start of this year’s Tour de France and asked to supply investigators with “documents.” Mashek also noted that Trek would respect the wishes of the investigating team by not publicising details of the inquiry.

    Trek’s involvement in the inquiry stems from allegations by Floyd Landis that were printed in the Wall Street Journal in July. Landis said that while riding for US Postal Service, he discovered that not all of the bicycles supplied by Trek were reaching team riders. He claimed that at least sixty team bikes manufactured by Trek were instead sold on the internet in order to fund a doping programme for the squad.

  • WADA voices concerns on UCI biological passport

    Director General of the WADA, David Howman
    Article published:
    August 07, 2010, 12:13 BST
    Barry Ryan

    Five suspect riders remained unsanctioned

    The Wall Street Journal has reported that five riders who showed anomalous values in blood and urine tests carried out as part of the UCI’s biological passport programme have as yet not been sanctioned.

    According to the newspaper, the independent nine-person biological passport committee highlighted eight blood profiles that it regarded as suspicious and brought them to the attention of the UCI last December. Three of those riders, Franco Pellizotti (Liquigas), Tadej Valjavec (Ag2r La Mondiale) and Jesús Rosendo Prado (Andalucía-CajaSur), were named in May. The other five riders remain anonymous and unsanctioned.

    The WSJ also claims that at least two members of the biological passport panel are concerned that the UCI may be shielding guilty riders from punishment. Meanwhile, another member, Olaf Schumacher, offered his support to cycling’s governing body. "I never had the feeling they were trying to cover up something," he said.

    World Anti-Doping Agency director general David Howman is quoted as saying that his organisation is now seeking access to the blood and urine profiles that are collected via the UCI’s biological passport programme. “Our job is to make sure the system isn't being sidestepped,” Howman said. “We have the right of intervening if we think cases aren't being prosecuted appropriately.”

    Meanwhile, UCI president Pat McQuaid has explained that the UCI does not divulge the biological passport panel’s recommendations to WADA as it is not obliged to do so. “That's a question for WADA. They're the ones who make the rules,” McQuaid said, before reiterating his credo in cycling’s right to police itself.

    However, McQuaid did confirm to the Wall Street Journal that eight riders were flagged by the biological passport panel in December and that just three of those riders have had cases brought against them to...

  • Boonen to miss Vuelta

    Belgian star Tom Boonen is interviewed before the start.
    Article published:
    August 07, 2010, 14:05 BST
    Cycling News

    Worlds participation also in doubt

    Tom Boonen (Quick Step) will not ride the Vuelta a España and his participation in this year’s World Championships in Geelong, Australia is also in doubt. The Belgian rider underwent knee surgery on July 15 and returned to training just yesterday.

    Boonen had been troubled by knee ligament trouble for much of the season. Crashes at both the Tour of California and Tour de Suisse ultimately ruled him out of the Tour de France and led to the decision to undergo surgery in July.

    The triple Paris-Roubaix winner’s first training session since then was a thirty-minute stint on a stationary bike yesterday and he faces a race against time to force his way into the reckoning for the Belgian squad for the World Championships. Boonen previously won the rainbow jersey in Madrid in 2005.

    Quick Step team doctor Yvan Van Mol told Het Nieuwsblad that the recovery process could well compromise Boonen’s late season objectives. “The Vuelta looks unlikely and his participation in the Worlds is problematic,” Van Mol said.

    Van Mol expects his charge to return to racing after the Vuelta’s conclusion. “Tom can return to competition in the middle of September. The most important thing is that Tom recovers completely and he can race without pain,” he said.

    In the meantime, Boonen’s training will be carefully monitored. “The objective is to progressively increase his workload,” Van Mol explained. “Soon he will be able to return to the road, but now it is important to not overdo it.”