A photo gallery from the recent Garmin-Cevelo training camp
While the majority of Garmin-Cervelo’s final training camp was focused on pre-season training on the roads of Girona, Spain, the team opened its doors to the press for two full days for interviews and photographs.
Procycling magazine’s Jesse Wild had the chance to shoot several of the team’s stars for a forthcoming issue of the magazine.
“The Garmin-Cervelo training camp was an interesting experience. It could have easily been called the paparazzi training day also because there were so many press there!” Jesse said.
“The riders clearly had a lot of demands placed on them but I’m sure they were happy when the sun broke and they could go for a ride. It was hard to fulfil the needs of a Procycling feature due to all the other photographers present, but as a reportage piece it was interesting to see the riders bonding before the first races of the season.”
Mechanical problem forced Australian out of decisive breakaway
Although Chloe Hosking was delighted by her teammate Ellen Van Dijk's overall win and HTC-Highroad's victory in the team classification at the Ladies Tour of Qatar, she deserved a prize as the most unfortunate rider of the race.
The Australian was part of the race-deciding breakaway on stage two, and looked set to take possession of the golden jersey when a mechanical problem wrecked her chances.
"It was super frustrating at the time because I was yellow on the road," Hosking told Cyclingnews. "But it turned out best for the team because Ellen's in yellow, she's in the points jersey and the young rider's jersey."
Hosking was part of an eight-rider echelon that formed on the front of the bunch in the crosswinds that shaped stage two. She was driving the break with her HTC-Highroad teammates Van Dijk, Adriana Visser and Charlotte Becker when a seemingly banal incident compromised her race.
"You're riding in the crosswinds, everyone's overlapping wheels and we just got grabbed by a gust of wind and the front wheel went into the girl in front me's foot and after that it was rubbing on my front brake," Hosking explained. "When you're riding in a group of eight of the best girls in the world with a brake rubbing against your wheel, it doesn't go down too well."
HTC-Highroad's show of strength on stage two ultimately decided the overall standings in Qatar. Hosking revealed that a move was premeditated, although its exact nature and timing were more circumstantial.
"We knew it was going to be really windy so we wanted to give it a good go but I didn't think it was going to be that early," she said. "I thought it was going to be after the first sprint, so it was a bit of a surprise to me, but we knew we were going to do something."
Hosking's fellow countrywoman Rochelle Gilmore (Lotto-Honda) credited her victory on stage one to the form she built up from racing extensively during the Australian summer. Hosking has also benefited from a spell of racing in the sun, although she does not have quite as many days of racing in her legs as some of her compatriots.
"I didn't race as much as others did like Rochelle Gilmore," she said. "I've had a bit of slow start; I think I've only had six or seven races, which is more than the Europeans, but still less than some of the other Australians."
Now in her second season at HTC-Highroad, Hosking is looking to build on the progress she has made in the past year.
"I want to do well in Europe obviously, as everyone does, and maybe get a few rides in the bigger World Cup races with the team," she said. "Then I'll really look towards preparing for the world championships and representing Australia there."
Mark Cavendish will take on Tom Boonen (Quick Step), Daniele Bennati (Leopard Trek) and the Tour de Langkawi revelation, Andrea Guardini (Farnese Vini), at the Tour of Qatar which begins on Sunday.
In this exclusive Cyclingnews video, the British sprinter talks about his early-season form, the strength of his HTC-Highroad team in Qatar and his chances of success in the sprints.
Cavendish saw the women’s HTC-Highroad team dominate the final stage of the Ladies Tour of Qatar on Friday afternoon. Ellen Van Dijk won the three-day race and also took the points and best young rider jerseys, while HTC-Highroad also won the team prize.
Cavendish is hoping the men’s HTC-Highroad team can follow on from their success.
Cyclingnews will have more video, interviews, reports and photo galleries every day during the Tour of Qatar
The course of the South Africa national championship road race in Port Elizabeth has been changed for safety reasons. Still reeling from the death of Carla Swart in a training accident, CyclingSA said that “safety is our number one concern”.
Race organisers were apparently unable to get the roads closed for the races this weekend, and so decided to limit the races to an 8.9km circuit.
The junior men and elite women will cover 11 laps, for 94.6km, and the elite and under 23 men will go 18 laps, for 154.8km, all on Saturday.
“I want to reiterate that there is no way we as CyclingSA will ever compromise the safety of our cyclists,” said Hendrik Lemmer, CyclingSA’s director of road cycling. “We are even prepared to go to such extreme measures like cancelling the whole event or move it to another venue if we feel we cannot guarantee the cyclists safety.
“There is no way that we will allow another of our riders to be killed in a car accident."
The change in route won't make the race any easier, according to CyclingSA's general manager of road racing, Barry Austin. “In their 18 laps, the elites will do about 4500 metres of vertical climbing. This is more than riders will do at a World Championship."
Swart, 23, died last month after being hit by a truck while training on the road.
Giorgia Bronzini (Italy) admitted that she opened her sprint too late in the final stage of the Ladies Tour of Qatar, which finished in Doha on Friday. The world champion was beaten into second place by her compatriot Monia Baccaille (MCipollini-Giordana) after a finale that saw a number of teams do battle to set up their sprinters.
"There were a lot of different sprint trains and teams up there," Bronzini told Cyclingnews immediately after the finish. "My teammates kept me up front until the end but we had to switch a lot of times on the run-in and then in the finale maybe I went too late given my characteristics, but so be it."
It was Bronzini's second near miss of the race. On stage one to Dukhan, she narrowly lost out to Rochelle Gilmore (Lotto-Honda) in the finishing sprint, while on day two, her Italian team was unable to stop HTC-Highroad's echelon from delivering a stage and the overall victory to Ellen Van Dijk.
Bronzini won two stages in the inaugural Tour of Qatar in 2009 and followed up with another stage victory 12 months ago. While she was disappointed not to add to her palmares this time around, the Piacenza-born rider was still relatively pleased with her showing in Qatar.
"It went better for me the other years but I can't complain as I'm only at 60 or 70 percent of my form, so I couldn't look for any more than that," Bronzini said.
Bronzini also confessed that she is still getting used to wearing the rainbow jersey but was glad to have started her campaign.
"It's an extra weight on my shoulders," she said. "But I'm hoping that race by race, stage by stage, I can start getting used to it."
As well as being a world champion on the road, Bronzini also captured a rainbow jersey on the track in 2009, when she won the points race. In 2011, she will once again seek to balance her road and track ambitions.
"My next objective is the world track championships in March," she said. "Afterward I'll start my road season in earnest."
Five more tourist rides added on Classics' race courses
On Thursday evening, the 2011 edition of the Flanders Classics was presented in Gent, Belgium. New for this year is the addition of a cyclo-tourist ride on the original course of every one of the six Flemish one-day races.
The Flanders Classics consists of six Belgian cycling races who combined forces in 2010. They wanted to guarantee the quality of their races and maintain their strong position on the international calendar.
The Flanders Classics are the Omloop Het Nieuwblad, Dwars door Vlaanderen, Gent-Wevelgem, Scheldeprijs, Brabantse Pijl and the cycling Monument Ronde van Vlaanderen.
The man leading the Flanders Classics is Belgian media-tycoon Wouter Vandenhaute. "The Ronde van Vlaanderen is our showpiece, but we're trying to get the best of the Ronde into all other races," Vandenhaute said.
Flanders Classics Cyclo
This year, the Flanders Classics added the Flanders Classics Cyclo to their list of races. While the tourist-Ronde, the "Tour of Flanders for Cyclingtourists and Mountainbikers" has been around for over a decade, there will now also be tourist rides for the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad (on February 27), Dwars door Vlaanderen (on March 20), Ghent-Wevelgem (on March 26), Brabantse Pijl (on April 9) and Scheldeprijs (on April 16). All these tourist rides are organized on exactly the same course that the pros race and within two weeks of the official race.
Omloop Het Nieuwsblad
The opening race of the Belgian cycling season on February 26 features less climbing but more cobbles. By skipping the Valkenberg, the Muur and the Berendries, there are three fewer climbs than last year.
The famous cobbles of the Haaghoek will feature three times during the 2011 edition of the Omloop.
Last year, the ProTour race moved from Wednesday to the Sunday before the Ronde van Vlaanderen. While this wasn't changed with race day being Sunday, March 27, the course was slightly modified with a longer flat first half and one more climb.
This year, there are more kilometres along the coastline before turning inwards through the wide-open meadows of the Moeren, where echelons often form. After more than 130km, the Mont de Cats just accross the French border is the first of nine climbs which all have to be climbed twice before heading towards Wevelgem.
Ronde van Vlaanderen
On April 3, the Ronde van Vlaanderen features as the most well known race of the Flanders Classics. Every 14th Sunday of the year, one of the biggest one-day races of the year is held in Flanders. In the Cyclingnews Reader Poll, last year's battle between Fabian Cancellara and Tom Boonen was voted as second best of the one-day races, trailing only the extremely popular Paris-Roubaix.
For the 12th, time the Ronde will select a "Dorp van de Ronde", literally the "Village of the Tour". This year Zwalm is the place to be. While the villages in previous years have been selected because a legendary rider used to live there, Zwalm has been selected because of its love of cycling. Every year, about 50 cycling races are organized on the village's territory. In this year's edition of the Ronde, the course goes through nine out of 12 boroughs of Zwalm.
Race organizer Wim Van Herreweghe talked about the 2011 course of the Ronde van Vlaanderen during the presentation in Ghent. "After the start on the historical market square of Bruges, we're not heading towards the coast like previous years but inland in the direction of Kortrijk. The official start is in Oostkamp. There's a classic, flat build-up of the race for 75km before arriving in the hilly Flemish Ardennes region.
"The main ingredients of the race are still the unique cobbled hellingen and those make - according to former double winner Peter Van Petegem - for the racing," Van Herreweghe said.
"The Kaperij is a new climb featuring early in the race. We're also re-introducing Ronse and its Kruisberg. The 'Kruis' is one of the three tenors of the race," Van Herreweghe said. The climb which featured in the 1988 world championships that was won by Maurizio Fondriest will make its 48th appearance in the race, according to Van Herreweghe.
"It's the second-most featured climb in the race, behind the Kwaremont, which is the the true number one; then the Muur in Geraardsbergen follows with 46 passages. After the Kruisberg, the race leaves Ronse and heads further up the road towards Hotond which is the highest point of Flanders," Van Herreweghe said.
Triple winner of the Ronde van Vlaanderen Johan Museeuw was pleased to see the climb back in the race. "I've always like to climb the Kruisberg. There's enough space which allows to put the hammer down," Museeuw said.
Deeper into the finale, the short and steep cobbled Paterberg is once again present. "The Paterberg has been much discussed in the past, but it's becoming more and more credible. We continue to take all the necessary safety measures in co-ordination with the city of Oudenaarde. Before hitting the Molenberg, where Fabian Cancellara and Tom Boonen attacked last year, there's a new cobbled section of 4.6km. After the cobbles of the Haaghoek and climbing the Leberg we're skipping the Berendries in favour of the Valkenburg because of road works," Van Herreweghe said.
The rest of the finale remains the same with the climbs of Tenbosse, the Muur and the Bosberg before arriving on the Halsesteenweg road in Meerbeke, Ninove.
The finish area in Ninove has an option to remain in position for the next two years, but during the presentation, former Ronde winner Johan Museeuw was asked whether he liked the finish in Meerbeke.
"I'm not fond of it. I prefer a finish that is closer to the climbs, near Ronse or Oudenaarde," Museeuw said.
Quick Step sprinter wants to see where he stands after knee surgery
Tom Boonen will be looking for his 17th stage win in the Tour of Qatar, which starts Sunday. The Quick Step sprinter has won at least one stage every year since 2004, and taken the overall title three times.
“I can't imagine that I will soon go away without a stage win in my luggage,” he told Sportwereld.be. “That kind of good habit should be cherished.”
Boonen missed several months last season due to knee problems which ultimately ended in surgery. He had only four wins in the season, with one of them of course being in Qatar. After the surgery in July, he returned for a few races the end of the season.
That gives him another incentive to do well in his first race of the 2011 season. “I want to know where I stand. I have worked hard after my injury last season. I trained well, the tests are good. The race should do the rest to reassure me.”
Garmin-Cervélo rider recovering from injury and ready for 2011
Heinrich Haussler (Garmin-Cervélo) has emphasised the importance of team tactics at the spring classics. He is one of seven riders who arrived at the Slipstream Sports set-up this year after Cervélo TestTeam folded at the end of the 2010 season, and he believes the revamped squad now boasts the strongest classics line-up.
"It's going to be stronger because if you look at the classics riders from Garmin and then Cervélo, with those two teams combined, then for me, we're the strongest team," Haussler told Cyclingnews in Doha ahead of the Tour of Qatar. "Hopefully we'll have a bit more luck than last year."
With a classics team containing talents such as Haussler, world champion Thor Hushovd and Tyler Farrar, Garmin-Cervélo appear on paper to have more strength in depth than any other squad, and Haussler believes this could be telling come April.
"The classics are always getting harder and harder each year," he said "I don't know, maybe it's that the races are getting more important, but teams are just getting stronger every year and team tactics play more of a role."
However, Haussler also acknowledged that a particularly strong individual performance can sometimes upset the best-laid plans of even the best-drilled teams.
"Of course if Cancellara is going to be as strong as he was last year, it's going to be really, really hard, and then there's also Gilbert," he said. "But we're going to have more of an advantage than we did last year with Cervélo because we've got guys like Farrar, Vansummeren, Maaskant and Millar, all guys that have shown themselves in the classics or been in the top ten, so if it all goes well then we'll have a really strong team and some good results."
After a fine 2009 season, Haussler was frustrated by knee problems throughout last year after crashing at the Volta ao Algarve. He eventually underwent surgery in June and explained that his recovery is still ongoing.
"I don't want to whinge about it but it's still not 100 per cent, down the left hand side of my body because after the operation I had a lot of time off my bike, so I have to build the strength in my left side up," he said. "Over the winter I was training good but when I went to the training camp I had a few problems with my Achilles but I'm still at the level where I want to be, so all is good."
With the season cranking into action, Haussler is confident that a combination of corrective training and racing miles will see him back to the peak of his powers by the time the classics come around.
"I've just been working a lot on my core and building it up so that both sides are equal," he said. "It's something that you can't do in a couple of days, it takes a long time, but the more riding I do the better."
Haussler begins his campaign in earnest at the Tour of Qatar, which kicks off in Doha on Sunday, and he is bullish about Garmin-Cervélo's chances in the race.
"We want to want to ride strong as a team and we definitely want to win," he said.
"If we came here to be second or third, then we're in the wrong sport."