- Article published:
- February 25, 2011, 11:47
- Daniel Benson
Photo gallery of Farrar motor pacing ahead of Sunday's race
Tyler Farrar and Thor Hushovd will split team leadership duties at Garmin-Cervelo at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne this weekend, with the American targeting the latter and the Norwegian world champion focusing on Omloop Nieuwsblad.
Farrar, who is fresh off the back of stage win at the Tour of Algarve, has spent the last few days recovering but joined the team at their base in Melle, Belgium for a short stink of motor pacing ahead of Sunday’s race.
“It's just about spinning the legs a bit. For these races it’s important that you want to be fresh but you don’t want to be totally shut down after resting so getting out and doing 45 minutes behind the car was good,” he told Cyclingnews.
“I feel pretty good. I’ve had a few victories. Algarve went pretty well and I won the points jersey so my fitness is where I want it to be right now. I still wouldn’t say that I’m 100 per cent but I wasn’t planning on be 100 per cent right now. So far everything is on track.”
On paper Garmin-Cervelo is one of the strongest Classics teams in the peloton, having signed the lion's share of Cervelo TestTeam’s star riders. Juggling the rider's ambitions and objectives could be one of the biggest challenges facing the team this spring but Farrar only sees the new recruits as a positive sign of intent.
“We’ve a lot of depth in our team this year so the idea was to try and go with a fresh leader into each race so Thor will go to Omloop and I’ll head into Kuurne.”
“I’ve done Kuurne a few times now and been top ten there before but this will be the first time I’ve come into it completely fresh. It’s a bit of an experiment.”
Farrar is especially looking forward to racing with Andres Klier. The German is regarded as one of the sport’s most experienced Classics riders by those in and out of the peloton and despite missing a section of last year’s spring races through injury, Farrar believes he will be integral to any success.
“Andreas is one of the most experienced classics riders in the world so having him is a big asset. The thing our team has possibly missed in the last years is that we’ve had a really strong team but a young one, so having someone like him, who has done these races so many times and knows every road like the back of his hand is a bit asset.”
The Garmin-Cervelo provisional line-up for Omloop Het Nieuwsblad also includes David Millar, Roger Hammond, Dan Lloyd, Johan Van Summeren and Murilo Fischer.
Farrar replaces Hushovd for Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne and other changes include Brett Lancaster, Travis Meyer, Gabriel Rasch and Navardauskas Ramunas.
- Article published:
- February 25, 2011, 12:33
- Susan Westemeyer
Austrian said to have received blood at 2005 Tour before stage win
Former Austrian professional rider Georg Totschnig will be charged with lying under oath about his use of doping products. Public prosecutors in Vienna have charged him in connection with the doping case against Walter Mayer, the former national coach for the national cross-country skiing and biathlon teams.
On September 14, 2009, Totschnig said under oath that he did not receive a bag of blood at the Tour de France 2005 from Gerlinde Mayer, Mayer's wife at the time.
Prosecutors believe that to be not true. According to kurier.at, Gerlinde Mayer took a bag of Totschnig's blood from the HumanPlasma blood bank and transported it to France, where she handed it over to the Austrian in the hotel car park while he was riding for Team Gerolsteiner. A few days after, Totschnig won the 14th stage of the Tour de France, a difficult mountaintop finish at Ax-3 Domaines.
The Austrian, who retired after the 2006 season, has consistently denied all doping charges. However, Gerlinde Mayer has told investigators details of what happened, according to the Kurier.
Mayer is charged with numerous violations of the Austrian anti-doping law and faces up to three years in prison. No date has yet been set for his trial.
- Article published:
- February 25, 2011, 17:58
- Brecht Decaluwé
Boonen will race without a radio but may take his phone
Tom Boonen, Gert Steegmans and Sylvain Chavanel headline the Quick Step squad at the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad on Saturday and Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne on Sunday and hope to win at least one of the two races. However the riders confirmed they were not planning to boycott the opening races of the Belgian season because of the race radio ban implemented by the International Cycling Union.
“We'd like to win one of the two races,” Chavanel said on Friday afternoon when the riders talked to media.
The three big-name Quick Step riders haven’t done any reconnaissance of the race route but shrugged off a possible lack of route knowledge as a problem. “I know we'll be doing the cobbles in Haaghoek three times and that's a section that suits me,” Steegmans said.
Boonen admitted that for some reason the Quick Step team had failed to win Omloop Het Nieuwsblad in the past five years. Once again the expectations are high but Steegmans played down the importance from the race.
“As a Flemish rider you're interested in this race because it's the first Flemish race. In foreign countries it's much less. Look at the absentees on Saturday. At Katusha there was huge interest too but at RadioShack it was a bit less,” he said.
The absentees Steegmans referred to are riders such as Fabian Cancellara (Leopard Trek) and Heinrich Haussler (Garmin-Cervelo).
However as part of a Belgian team, the three team leaders know that a lot is expected from them over the weekend.
“Of course the media will go crazy if we don't win the race but for us there's not that much pressure. If we didn't play an important role in the race then it would be different for us,” Steegmans acknowledged.
Boonen leads an open race strategy
Boonen is team leader but he explained that Quick Step will have an open race strategy.
“It's a race with many key points and so we're not starting with a strict plan, to make sure we can be ready if things change. Often it's one of the guys who have been under the radar who actually wins the race, so that's good for the guys next to me,” Boonen said, referring to Chavanel and Steegmans.
Surprisingly the Belgian has never won the Omloop.
“It's not an easy race to win but I’ve often come close. I have won Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne twice. I do want to win the race and I’d be happy if I did it,” Boonen said.
Boonen prepared for his Belgian debut by riding the Tour of Qatar and the Tour of Oman. For the first time this season, the Quick-Step riders will be racing in expected rain and cold conditions. He insisted the weather was not a problem.
“I'm actually looking forward to these races. I'm curious to see how some teams and riders will perform in the Flemish races,” he said. “I do know that those who were good in Qatar will be good here too; it was a tough race this year. Then again it's different to ride over the climbs here,” Boonen said, adding he was keen to see his compatriot and rival Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma-Lotto) in action.
Chavanel saw Gilbert in action in Portugal. “In the Volta ao Algarve he seemed to have made a lot of progress since Majorca. He'll be good this weekend. I've also seen a strong Sebastian Langeveld,” Chavanel said, hinting that the Rabobank rider would be a dark horse for Saturday.
Boonen on the radio protest
When asked about the possible race radio protest that might disrupt Omloop Het Nieuwsblad on Saturday, Boonen said the Quick Step riders didn’t want to damage the race but he still took a strong stance against the UCI’s decision.
“If we do that (protest or boycott the race) we're annoying the organizers, the fans and ourselves, and the next day everybody races in Kuurne. The only way to harm the UCI is by boycotting the world championships,” Boonen said.
The world championships are the only races that are actually organized by the UCI.
“It's not only about the race radios but about the attitude of the UCI. We're never been asked our opinion. We're just told to behave and abide by the decision. I wonder why they do that? Is it because there hasn't been exciting racing in the past few decades? Did you know that in the past few races every breakaway attempt has been controlled to within four minutes, just to avoid the risks?”
Boonen ended his sarcastic questions with a provocative suggestion: “Maybe I should take my mobile phone with me, they didn't say anything about that, did they?” Boonen said.
- Article published:
- February 25, 2011, 19:08
- Daniel Benson
AIGCP back down after UCI threatens to remove race officials
Omloop Het Nieuwsblad looks certain to go ahead without any form of official protest from the AIGCP, teams and riders, after the AIGCP decided to back down on racing with race radios.
There had been a mounting stand-off between the teams and the UCI in recent days after speculation first emerged that there could be repeats of the scenes from the Challenge Mallorca where the start was delayed, the UCI commissaries quit the race and the riders used race radios. Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Cervelo) won the race but the results were later made void.
The decision not to protest seems to have arisen after the UCI threatened to remove race commissaries from the event. According to the UCI this would have voided insurance policies and therefore the race could have been cancelled.
The UCI began the roll out of the race radio ban last year in 1.2 and 2.2 level races (including all U23 races and women's stage races), and has been extended to cover all Continental races ranked 1.HC/2.HC and below in 2011. The ban will include the World Calendar races in 2012.
In a statement issued to the media, the AIGCP said: “Upon receiving information that the UCI threatened to remove race commissaries from Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, if riders were to wear radios, the race organizer could not guarantee the race could go forward, as insurance policies required commissaries to be present.”
“The AIGCP have decided, by a majority, that to endanger a long standing race would not be in the best interest of the sport, its fans, and its sponsors.”
“We, once again, extend an invitation to the UCI to find a compromise on this issue. We also are hopeful that the UCI will no longer threaten race organizers with actions that imperil their events.”
The AIGCP will next gather on March 4, in Paris, where it is hoped that a level of mediation between them and the UCI can begin. Cyclingnews understands that UCI could be open to such a resolution of the dispute after confirming to one team manager that the race radio situation could be reviewed after a set time. However, no time period before a review was specified.
- Article published:
- February 25, 2011, 19:56
- Daniel Benson
Lotto hopes to carry forward momentum from early season success
Despite not being in top condition Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma Lotto) believes that he has enough in the tank to win Omloop Het Nieuwsblad. The Belgian has won the event twice in the past and despite his modest reflection on his form, has already won this season - taking a stage at the recent Tour of Algarve.
"You don't need to be 100 per cent to win tomorrow. You need good condition and a lot of kilometres in your legs but not your best top form," Gilbert told Cyclingnews.
"I've got good feelings and a good team. We know the circuit now, too. All I know is that I won't be saving my form. I'm here to race and I'll give everything tomorrow."
Tomorrow's race marks the first real test for the Classics specialists and despite Fabian Cancellara (Leopard Trek) and Heinrich Haussler (Garmin-Cervelo) opting to skip the race and train, the majority of one-day riders are present. Gilbert, who has consistently improved in recent years, thinks that there's no clear favourite and that up to 10 riders are in with a chance of winning.
"I was happy when I heard that Haussler was not on the start list because for me he was the big favourite. I think that if he came here he'd have a big chance of winning. It's all good for me though."
"But seriously, there's not one guy above the rest. There are maybe 10 at the same level and you can look at guys like Lars Boom, Juan Antonio Flecha, and Tom Boonen as the key player. Rabobank, Quickstep and Garmin-Cervelo are all strong but of course there's us too. It should be a great fight out there on the road."
Lotto heads into Saturday's race in a far more confident and secure state of mind than last year, having already recorded two wins this season courtesy of Gilbert and his new teammate, Andre Greipel, who also won in Algarve.
Last year the team had to wait until April's Amstel Gold Race before recording its first win.
"They're not big victories but they're still victories," said Gilbert.
"At the end of the day you just have to remember that being number one in a race is still a win so it's good for me the other riders and all the staff. We just have to carry on that momentum, starting with tomorrow."
- Article published:
- February 25, 2011, 21:41
- Kirsten Frattini
Alzate wins Callville Bay Classic opener
Team Exergy, the newest US-based UCI Continental outfit, united at a second pre-season training camp held from February 12-20 in Ventura, California. The week-long session ended with the team's first victory of the season at the Callville Bay Classic's opening stage held in Lake Mead, Nevada.
"I will keep our ambitions for the season simple," said Remi McManus, team racer and manager. "Team Exergy has many goals for the 2011 season. Of course we want to be competitive in every event that we enter this season, we want to represent our sponsors in the most professional manner possible both on and off the bike. Lastly, one of our major focuses is to be involved and give back to the communities we travel to and live in."
Team Exergy riders came together for a Sponsor Education Camp from January 27-30 in Boise, Idaho. Riders were introduced to one another and given the opportunity to build relationships with sponsors of the team. The camp kicked off with a presentation at the Exergy Development Group headquarters followed by a visit to St. Luke's Children's Hospital and numerous sponsor visits and equipment fittings. However, the team saved some time to have a little fun too.
"After the riders had just about all the meeting and classroom time they could handle we made the trip out to Fast Lane Kart Racing School for a night filled with laughs, spin outs, and at some points full-on crash derby," McManus said.
"Friday the Team Exergy partners welcomed all the attending sponsors while the riders enjoyed a casual night on the town," he added. "The camp ended with cocktail parties, a great night filed with food and beverages at both Exergy Development Group and followed by more of the same at a local restaurant Berryhill and Co."
The team met at a second camp in sunny California for some official training time. Riders were housed at the Ferro Ranch located at the top of a 24-percent grade climb showcasing magnificent views of the Ventura Valley orchards and the Pacific Ocean.
"The rides during camp varied from 60 miles easy through rolling orchards and along the Pacific Coast Highway to epic 120-mile days through the fog and mist of climbs like Gibralter, and Yerba Buena to name a few," McManus said
The Team Exergy roster includes recent Callville Bay Classic stage winner Carlos Alzate along with McManus, Kai Applequist, Eric Barlevav, Ben Chaddock, Matt Cooke, Andres Diaz, Chris Hong, Sam Johnson, Quinn Keogh and Erik Slack.
Team Exergy will next unite at an official presentation on March 21 in Boise, Idaho. Its racing season will continue at the San Dimas Stage Race and move on to the Redlands Bicycle Classic, Tour of the Battenkill, SRAM Tour of the Gila and the USA Crits Speedweek.
- Article published:
- February 25, 2011, 22:09
- Daniel Benson
Belgian road season swings into focus this weekend
After making 15 changes to his roster over the winter, Marc Sergeant is hoping his Omega Pharam Lotto team finds success this weekend as the Belgian road season moves into focus with Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne.
The Belgian team will be lead by Philippe Gilbert in Omloop (Saturday), while new signing Andre Greipel will assume the reins in Kuurne a day later.
"For Belgian cycling, this is the start of the season. We've busy training camps for over a month now, but there is always more excitement as you build up to tomorrow's race," Sergeant told Cyclingnews.
Omega started the season in relatively good form, picking up two wins in last week's Tour of Algarve -- courtesy of Greipel and Gilbert - but Sergeant is well aware that the level of competition will be much higher this weekend than it was in Algarve.
One team Sergeant is wary of is Rabobank. The Dutch squad has been in scintillating form since the turn of the year and has amassed a total of 17 podium places.
"Rabobank has been exceptional so far this season. In previous years, Oscar Freire would pop up with two or three wins early in the season but now everyone on that team seems to be winning. Gesink, Boom, Matthews, Bos, they're all winning."
And while only one of those riders will race this weekend, Sergeant has picked out one as a potential danger man.
"Boom is a very strong rider, and he's starting to feel and ride better on the kind of roads we'll be using in the next couple of days. He's a strong rider, so if you give him any kind of gap he could time trial his way to the finish and we won't see him again."
"But there are maybe 20 riders who could be in the mix over the coming days. Boonen, you can't forget him, and he's very strong and motivated. He'll be there tomorrow."
While Gilbert has become one of the most accomplished Classics riders in recent years, this weekend could act as a catalyst for Greipel, who left HTC at the end of 2010 because he felt stifled in the same team as Mark Cavendish.
With less than a month to go until Milan San Remo, and the Manxman not riding this weekend, Kuurne is the perfect opportunity to send the right message.
"Kuurne is often a sprint so if Andre is in that group, then he has a chance of winning. It's going to be very difficult, the level is very high, like with Rabobank, but I'm confident that Gilbert and Greipel will be very good."
- Article published:
- February 26, 2011, 09:30
- Cycling News
BMC rider will be monitored over the weekend
Taylor Phinney is recovering from mild concussion suffered in a training accident Friday. The BMC Racing Team rider is said to be be doing fine but will remain under medical monitoring at his home in Lucca, Italy.
Phinney was training near Lucca with Garmin-Cervelo's Andrew Talansky on Friday when the two crossed wheels while turning a corner.
"We kind of got jumbled. It was a freak accident," Phinney said in a statement issued by his BMC team. "The next thing we knew, we found ourselves flipping over our bikes and onto the ground. All I remember was smacking my head pretty hard.”
"I definitely have to thank the people at Bell because if hadn't been wearing my helmet, I would have suffered a pretty bad injury."
The 20-year-old rode home and then got in touch with BMC team doctor Max Testa, who did a long-distance examination.
"We did some simple tests for balance and co-ordination over Skype, which he passed," Testa said. "Now we're just monitoring him closely. If he's feeling OK on Saturday, we'll see if he can spin on the trainer without developing a headache and then we'll go from there.”
"We will need some time to fully evaluate the extent of the crash and then we'll make a decision on how to organise his training and racing."
Phinney made his full professional debut with BMC at the Tour of Oman after a knee injury disrupted his early season training.