- Article published:
- December 3, 2010, 12:00
- Cycling News
Breukink hopes Contador returns to peloton at some point
If Alberto Contador (Astana) is proven positive for doping, then he should be suspended, according to Rabobank's Robert Gesink. But team sport director Erik Breukink hopes that the Spaniard will return to racing, even if he is suspended.
Gesink admitted to not following developments in the Contador case very closely but added: It seems to me that if someone has tested positive for doping, then he should be suspended," he told NuSport.nl.
"This is how it works in any case, there really are rules. And I think many other riders feel the same way.”
He concluded, however, "On the other hand, if the explanation of Contador's right, I think this is terrible for him."
If Contador were suspended and lost his Tour title, then Gesink would move up to a fifth place finish. "This is the last way you want to finish one place higher. This also applies to Denis Menchov, who would move into second place."
No matter how the doping charges are resolved, Breukink hopes that Contador returns to the peloton. "He's the best rider around at the moment. Let's hope that he returns, possibly after his suspension."
"But the rules are obviously there for a reason, so there will undoubtedly be a lot of thinking done about it,” he said, adding, “ This is of course the last thing the sport of cycling needs.”
- Article published:
- December 3, 2010, 13:33
- Cycling News
More doping controls for questionable riders
The International Cycling Union's (UCI) anti-doping programme will focus on those riders whose biological passports show questionable values, in 2011. The UCI will also conduct an “ambitious prevention campaign,” it said in a press release issued Friday afternoon.
The Foundation Board and Funding Committee of the Cycling Anti-Doping Foundation (CADF), chaired by Pat McQuaid and Daniel Baal respectively, met Thursday in Paris, and approved the UCI's 2011 anti-doping agenda.
"2011 will see a significant increase in the number of controls conducted on riders whose profiles may indicate illegal behaviour.” The UCI will concentrate on these riders, “rather than riders with completely regular profiles who make up the majority of the peloton.”
The questionable riders will be targeted under the biological passport programme. “The very large number of controls conducted since the introduction of the biological passport (nearly 25,500) has allowed reliable profiles to be drawn up for the riders concerned.”
The UCI also noted that the improved targeting will include, “top-performing athletes as well as newcomers to the peloton.”
In addition, the UCI will increasingly emphasise its prevention campaign.”The UCI thus intends, in collaboration with National Federations and other relevant organisations, to attack this evil at its root: sanctioning cheats is necessary, but it is even more essential to prevent young riders from resorting to illegal practices.”
- Article published:
- December 3, 2010, 16:50
- Cycling News
Retired rider visits Right to Play charity in Mozambique before taking up PR duties
Koos Moerenhout has retired as a rider, but is still active with Rabobank. The Dutchman will take up duties as a press and communications officer next month. However before he begins his new career path the former pro visited Mozambique on behalf of the Right to Play charity.
"I was a pro for 15 years and in my opinion this was the best moment to retire. I’m in my best condition so I can say goodbye with good morale,” the 37-year-old said. “I am looking forward to my new job. It's going to be exciting and strange to not be a cyclist anymore, but I will stay in cycling so I hope that will make the transition to the working life easier.”
Another important part of his Rabobank involvement is with a charity the team supports, Right to Play. Moerenhout recently returned from a trip to Mozambique to visit four projects sponsored by the group, which uses games and sports to help children and create social change in communities affected by war, poverty and disease.
The trip provided an opportunity for Moerenhout and the rest of the Rabobank delegation to observe how the programme works. “It's not always clear what charity organisations can get done, but when seeing the projects with your own eyes, you can only be happy they are there to help. The way for improvement is education. The more projects Right To Play and other organisations can carry out, the more success there will be.”
He shared his experiences with the children, telling them “about life in the peloton and what it’s like being a professional cyclist. They taught me some kind of warrior dance and I made a total fool of myself dancing it! The best thing was to see the smiles on the kids’ faces, but it was also great when they laughed about my cyclist tan lines and my ridiculous dance performance.”
Nor was the local cycling community forgotten, as the group visited the recently-formed Mozambican Cycling Federation. “Next year Mozambique are hosting the All African Games, and the cycling federation is working hard to get there” he said. “The cycling scene is in its early years, and it’s very basic and not organised. They don’t have a history of cycling, but they’re passionate about making progress and have things ready for the games”.
Moerenhout turned pro in 1996 with Rabobank, but didn't spend his entire career with the Dutch team. He also rode for Lotto and Phonak before returning to Rabobank in 2007.
He was national road champion in 2007 and 2009. This season he won a stage at the Eneco Tour, and in 2009 he won the time trial at the Tour of Austria.
- Article published:
- December 3, 2010, 20:13
- Cycling News
Ciolek to make debut in Australia
Quick Step is sending two sprinters to the Tour Down Under, with Francesco Chicchi looking to repeat his victory from 2009. Newcomer Gerald Ciolek will also look for his chances in his debut with both the team and the Australian race.
"Chicchi is no stranger to the Santos Tour Down Under having competed here in 2009 and winning the final stage of the race," said Race Director, Mike Turtur.
"It will be interesting to see 'The Sheriff' returning to the race next year with his new team Quick Step, which he last rode for in 2006." The Italian, who is transferring over from Team Liquigas, got his nickname due to his love of western movies.
Chicchi, who had seven wins last season, will take on the other top sprinters in the peloton including defending champion Andre Greipel, Mark Cavendish, and Tyler Farrar.
Ciolek, 24, is joining Quick Step after two years at Team Milram. "Ciolek is a promising and talented rider who won the German National Championship road race at the tender age of 18, making him the youngest rider to do so," Turtur said.
Quick Step for the Santos Tour Down Under: Francesco Chicchi, Gerald Ciolek, Julien Vermote, Marco Bandiera, Addy Engels, Francesco Reda, and Davide Malacarne
- Article published:
- December 3, 2010, 20:41
- Cycling News
Landbouwkrediet, Shimano say pedal did not break
The sudden disappearance of his left pedal in the final sprint of the Superprestige round in Gieten last week could have turned out much worse for Sven Nys. The Belgian champion was in the lead group as the line approached, but as he launched his sprint, his Shimano XTR pedal became detached from the crank arm - something that could have easily caused a serious crash.
Luckily for Nys, he stayed upright and was able to run his bike across the line for fourth place. Luckier still, the three men ahead of him weren't contending for the overall series victory, and Nys was able to maintain his overall lead.
At the time, there was much speculation as to what happened to the pedal. Did it break? Did it come unthreaded? Both scenarios seemed unlikely considering the reputation of the Shimano pedal and of the mechanics who service Nys's bikes.
The Belgian newspaper Het Nieuwsblad examined Nys' bike after the race, and they had the impression the pedal had just come off the crank. Fons Wouters, Nys' mechanic, didn't agree with that theory when interviewed last week. "That the pedal would've turned off the crank during the race is hard to believe. ... If the pedal had been loose then Sven would've noticed right away, leaving him without a chance to even think about all-out sprinting," Wouter told Het Nieuwsblad.
Shimano requested an investigation, as it would with any equipment failure. They seemed convinced the pedal came unscrewed from the crank arm and, after looking into the issue with the team, both parties agreed today that this was the case.
"Shimano investigated the incident together with the Landbouwkrediet team management. Both parties agree that the pedal was not tightened well enough. This means that the pedal did not break, as was reported in various media. We hope this decision clarifies all the uncertainties surrounding this incident."
Before the conclusion was reached, Wouters did agree that the Shimano pedals hadn't failed in 15 years, and said, "Luckily Nys isn't a bad-tempered person, but of course we want to keep mistakes likes these out of our game; this is top sport. Nys could have crashed and broken a collarbone, bringing an end to his season."
- Article published:
- December 3, 2010, 22:47
- Peter Hymas
Hushovd on team a "dream scenario"
David Millar is approaching the 2011 season with a sense of calm befitting both a seasoned professional and the locale of 2011 ProTeam Garmin-Cervélo's first official gathering - the Caribbean island of Grand Cayman.
Millar eased into the new season with his first ever trip to the Cayman Islands to take part in Garmin-Cervélo's week-long camp, which wraps up Saturday, December 4. The 33-year-old Scot is coming off of an extended and well deserved period of rest following the conclusion of the 2010 season. Millar closed out the year on quite a high note with a silver medal in the time trial world championship, a gold medal in the Commonwealth Games time trial and a victory plus a new course record in France's Chrono des Nations.
"I suppose I was a little surprised at how good I was at the end [of the season]," Millar told Cyclingnews. "I don't think I've ever felt so good at time trialing and that was very good for morale. I've been doing nothing since, I just took completely off the bike which I kind of needed. It was the first time I've finished so late so good, so I though I should take it easy as long as I can."
The team's Grand Cayman camp is primarily concerned with team bonding opportunities for nearly the entire 2011 roster, including a contingent from the now defunct Cervélo TestTeam featuring riders such as world champion Thor Hushovd and Heinrich Haussler.
"It's been great and a lot of fun," said Millar of his time in the Caymans. "With the new guys obviously we needed to all get together. We didn't do this last year, but I think it's worked out really well, better than we could have expected.
"We have such a relaxed atmosphere as it is and we're embracing that even more now that we're in the Caribbean. I don't think very many teams get to do something like this, it's really quite different. It's not a military or survival camp, but it works in its own way.
"I think it would be great if we could do this every year, although I don't think it would be quite as important as it is this year. It's just good for us to hang out and spend time with each other when we're relaxed and not having to train, you really get to kick back."
Having the reigning world champion on board for 2011 is a "dream scenario", according to Millar. "Thor's a great guy anyway, but to have him as world champion raises the profile of the team even more. We have a good bunch of guys who are a good team, but I think we have the potential next year to be a great team. Three years ago if you said this is what we'd be now you'd say 'Really? I want to sign on the dotted line right now'.
"Thor's consistent, he doesn't really have bad years. He always manages to grab a stage in a Grand Tour somewhere, he won the points jersey at the Tour de France and in the Classics he's just getting better and better. I see no reason why he couldn't be better than he's ever been next year."
Millar had yet to confirm his 2011 race schedule when he spoke to Cyclingnews, but he anticipates having a season similarly structured to the year's.
"I'd like to be good in the Classics again for Flanders, maybe Amstel this time as well," said Millar. "Basically I'd like to follow a similar pattern [as 2010], so peak then and be good for the early part of the year, then take a rest. I don't know if I'm going to do the Giro, but the Tour de France as ever and then the Worlds, to give them a go again."
While Millar hasn't put any kind of definitive endpoint to his career, he's fully appreciative of the opportunity to seek new challenges while he's still on top of his game. "We've seen lately that you can go on into your late 30s and still be racing at the highest level. It's normally the head that goes first, but I'm pretty lucky as having my ban it kind of gave me an appreciation of what life's going to be like after. I'm really going to work hard to be at my best over the next few years, I don't want to waste it."
One such opportunity is a return to the Tour of Flanders next season.
"I loved Flanders this year. I had such a great time there. It was such a shock. It was brilliant, I never thought I'd be at the front in the final.
"That's one of the things that's helped keep it fresh these past few years, trying different things. I'm not going to get stuck doing the same program with the same goals. The Tour's the Tour, the Worlds are the Worlds, but the Classics are kind of a new thing for me."
For each of the previous two seasons Millar has started each of the three Grand Tours, finished two each year, and went deep into the third. With the powerhouse roster Garmin-Cervélo has lined up for 2011, Millar is appreciative that a repeat next year is unlikely.
"With so many riders now I don't think it's necessary. Before we were a little bit imbalanced as a team in that we had a lot of young guys so we had a small, hardcore crew that ended up doing so many races. I enjoyed it, but I think it's quite nice now that I don't have to do that."
- Article published:
- December 4, 2010, 09:15
- Kirsten Frattini
French-Canadian to compete in the Spring Classics
Canada’s David Veilleux recently announced his position with the French Professional Continental team Europcar for 2011. The former Kelly Benefit Strategies rider will join his new teammates at an opening training camp from December 10-17 in Valencia, Spain.
“I am pleased to announce that I will join the French team Europcar for the 2011 season,” Veilleux said on his personal website. “I will therefore race at the highest level of my sport and have the chance to ride with experienced riders such as Thomas Voeckler, winner of the Grand Prix of Quebec and a stage of the Tour de France in 2010, and Anthony Charteau, polka dot jersey winner at the 2010 Tour de France. This move to a European team at the international level represents a childhood dream, but also a reward for all these years of hard work and sacrifice.”
Europcar agreed to a three-year title sponsorship that replaced BBox Bouygues Telecom, led by manager Jean-Rene Bernaudeau. Veilleux began negotiations with the team in October and is now one of 22 riders that includes Voeckler and Charteau. He met with several of his new teammates last week in Nantes, France.
“I tried to find a few options toward the end of the year to see if there were any opportunities to race overseas,” Veilleux told Cyclingnews. “The contact with Europcar came in late but once we started talking it became a team that I would really fit in well with. It is a French team and they have a really good organization and will be invited to many races so I thought it would be good for me.”
Veilleux noted that he does not expect to take part in the Tour de France, should the team receive an invitation, but he does expect to be one of a ten-man team designated to compete in the Spring Classics. He will also target the Canadian National Road and Time Trial Championships events.
“We haven’t had the calendar decided yet because as a Pro Continental team they are still waiting for invites,” Veilleux said. “They haven’t confirmed all our races yet but they told be I would be on a squad that would do most of the Classics at the beginning of the year.”
“I don’t know what to expect but maybe I will have a chance to do races like Paris-Roubaix or Tour of Flanders,” he added. “It is really exciting and I am motivated to train hard. It feels good to be going from doing races like the Tour of Elk Grove to doing races like the Classics in Europe. It will be a really good experience.”
Europcar will be outfitted with the Quebec City-based Louis Garneau for clothing and helmets during the season. It is a company that Veilleux knows well having competed under the under its banner as an amateur and elite racer.
“I started my career racing in front of their factory in Quebec City,” Veilleux said. “I started as an amateur in Quebec on their team and then the first team I raced for in the US, Jittery Joe’s, was sponsored by them. I’ve had a really good contact with them and so I am happy to race for that company again.”
Veilleux competed for the US-based Continental team Kelly Benefit Strategies for the past three seasons. He is the current Canadian National Criterium Champion and has won a series of North American events including the US Pro Criterium Championships, Presbyterian Hospital Invitational Criterium, Tour of Elk Grove, Fitchburg Longsjo Classic and the Tour of Utah’s sprint competition.
“I would like to take the opportunity to thank my team of the last three years, Kelly Benefit Strategies,” Veilleux said. “My experience with this team enabled me to progress greatly with the advices of the sporting director Jonas Carney and all of my teammates. I really appreciated racing with these guys.”
Europcar will host a second training camp from January 6-13 followed by a team presentation on January 14 in Paris, France.
- Article published:
- December 4, 2010, 11:24
- Barry Ryan
Russian disappointed with Tchmil's attitude
Geox-TMC may have failed to secure a ProTeam licence for 2011, but marquee signing Denis Menchov insists that he does not regret choosing Mauro Gianetti’s team over Katusha. The Russian rider left Rabobank this summer after six years at the team and was disappointed by the tenor of Katusha’s negotiations.
“The situation was a bit strange,” Menchov told Biciciclismo. “Their attitude did not seem the best, but he [Katusha manager Andrei Tchmil] defends their position and I have mine. I think I deserved a different attitude. As it is a Russian team and a national cycling project, I think it could have behaved differently with me, and not the same as though I were any other rider on the market.”
Menchov finished 3rd in July’s Tour de France and is convinced that he would have been the ideal standard bearer for his home country’s biggest team.
“There are national projects such as the one Kazakhstan [Astana] where there was no doubt that Vinokourov was going to ride,” Menchov said. “Or the Sky project: Wiggins had a contract with Garmin and Sky made every effort to ensure that the best British rider was in the national team. Like Andy Schleck and the Luxembourg team. But that wasn’t how it was in my case, and that’s what I found odd.”
Menchov met with Tchmil and Katusha in August to discuss terms but he felt that negotiations should have begun much sooner if the Russian team were serious about signing him.
“In the end I was annoyed because they had at least a year and a half to talk to me,” Menchov explained. “But they said nothing and then came to me in late August with all the other teams, but by then the market was open.
“In Spain or France they have hundreds of riders and Spain has ten riders who can compete in the Grand Tours alone, but in Russia there aren’t as many competitive riders.”
Menchov contrasted Katusha’s approach with that of Gianetti and Geox-TMC: “Gianetti already knew me and he’d already been interested. We had even talked a couple of years ago. They treated me with respect and interest.”
The 2009 Giro d’Italia winner also lauded Geox as a “serious sponsor with serious ideas,” although a report in Saturday’s Gazzetta dello Sport suggested that the Italian shoe manufacturer was already seeking to free itself of its commitment after the team failed to secure one of the 18 ProTeam licences.