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First Edition Cycling News, Saturday, January 16, 2010

Date published:
January 16, 2010, 0:00 GMT
  • Engineered for success: Laurent Didier

    Laurent Didier volleys
    Article published:
    January 15, 2010, 14:08 GMT
    Daniel Benson

    Luxembourg neo-pro to honour first year with Saxo Bank

    Laurent Didier was the first Saxo Bank rider to arrive for Friday's training ride in Fuerteventura. Eager to impress his employers and teammates alike, the 25-year-old engineering graduate is embarking on his first full season, having ridden as a stagiaire for the team during the latter part of 2009.

    After finishing his third and final UCI blood control that every new professional must undertake before racing in a Protour event, Didier spoke to Cyclingnews. Pigeonholed as a promising climber, Didier grew up in Luxembourg, often training with Andy Schleck and graduating through the ranks alongside Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas).

    However, unlike the majority of his peers, Didier decided to juggle racing with university studies until last year, following in his father's footsteps as a qualified engineer.

    "Securing a degree was a really big deal for me. My father is an engineer but it helps having that buffer and safety in case things don't work out on the bike. I tried mathematics for two years but it drove me crazy and I failed after two years but I still wanted a degree and did a three-year engineering course in Luxembourg," he told Cyclingnews.

    During his studies, he rode for two German teams, Regiostrom - Senges and Kuota Senges, where he raced alongside Australian Luke Roberts (Team Milram). It was at Kuota that Didier caught the eye of Bjarne Riis and after impressing at the Tour of Denmark and then as a stagiaire, a full-time contract was put on the table. It was an irresistible offer for Didier and one that he fully intends on making the most of.

    "I was top of the class in my year at university and I put in a lot of hard work. I want to do the same as a rider on this team. One day I'd like to put on the national jersey - I finished second in both the road and time-trial in 2009 - but for now it's about earning my stripes with the team."

    Despite the squad talking up his prospects as a climber, Didier is more...

  • Van Garderen aiming high at HTC-Columbia

    Tejay van Garderen at the 2009 U23 world championship time trial in Mendrisio, Switzerland.
    Article published:
    January 15, 2010, 14:40 GMT
    Richard Tyler

    US rider heads into ProTour debut full of ambition

    Tejay Van Garderen says he will look for every opportunity to convert success in the Espoir ranks into results in the ProTour as he makes his debut with HTC-Columbia this season.

    The 21-year-old has moved to HTC after a two-year apprenticeship at Rabobank's Continental squad, where last year he secured overall victories at the Tour du Haut Anjou and Circuito Montañes, as well as second overall at the Tour de l'Avenir. With his step up to the ProTour environment just weeks away, Van Garderen is keen to prove he can match with the best.

    "I'm definitely super happy to work for the team, but if there comes the chance for me to get in a breakaway, ride for general classification or ride something for myself I want to make sure I don't let that opportunity slip through my fingers and take full advantage," Van Garderen told Cyclingnews at the HTC-Columbia training camp in Mallorca.

    Though ambitious, Van Garderen is only too aware that he will face a steep learning curve over the next several months. The process of getting to know his new teammates began last September and it will be the senior members of the team to whom he will look for guidance on the ins-and-outs of top-tier competition.

    "I expect to learn a lot this season. I've done some 2.1 level races so I kind of have a little experience, but the difference between the Tour de l'Ain and the Dauphiné [Libéré] is pretty huge, and from the Dauphiné and the Tour [de France] it's even bigger again," he said. "I'm not expecting to do the Tour or anything, but I'm just going to try to develop, try to learn from some of the older guys; take my opportunity when it comes."

    Van Garderen is hopes the opportunities will present themselves at the Tour of California and Dauphiné Libéré, both of which are featured on an impressive early-season programme. He will begin at Challenge Majorca on February 7, with the Volta ao...

  • 2010 Giro jersey presented in Florence

    2010 Maglia Rosa
    Article published:
    January 15, 2010, 16:00 GMT
    Cycling News

    Fashion-inspired designs again feature Italy's Tricolore

    The presentation of the four prestigious jerseys of the 2010 Giro d'Italia took place on Thursday on the occasion of the Pitti Uomo exhibit in Florence.

    Yolanthe Cabau Van Kasbergen, a 24-year-old Dutch actress, host and patroness of the 2010 Giro, modeled the four leader's jerseys in front of a delighted audience, including Giro winners Ivan Basso and Damiano Cunego, as well as former Italian national champion Giovanni Visconti.

    Once again, Santini will supply all the leader jerseys for the Giro d'Italia 2010, and redesigned them to fit new trends in sportswear fashion. Moreover, since last year's innovation, the Tricolore Italian flag became an integral part of the four jerseys.

    With the Maglia Rosa, the Maglia Verde and Maglia Bianca honouring the overall, the mountains and the Under 24 years classifications as usual, the Maglia Cyclamen representing the points classification will change in 2010 and become the Maglia Rosso Passione.


  • Fignon struggling on

    Laurent Fignon faces his toughest test yet... beating cancer
    Article published:
    January 15, 2010, 16:10 GMT
    Hedwig Kröner

    Two-time Tour winner still fighting against cancer

    Laurent Fignon, who won the Tour de France in 1983 and 1984, continues to fight against cancer. Fignon was initially diagnosed with intestinal cancer in May 2009, and after a series of chemotherapies, his doctors now found out that the cancer originated in his lungs.

    "Despite my treatments during the last seven months, my cancer has barely diminished," Fignon told French magazine Paris Match. "I will start a new chemotherapy next week."

    Fignon spoke openly about his disease and was not afraid to tell things as they were. "I am not dead, but I am not healing, either. Today, I'm okay, but yesterday, I was really tired."

    As many patients with advanced cancer, doctors are trying to find the right chemotherapy to work on the affected body parts. "The first chemo after the Tour de France [2009, which he attended as a consultant for French TV - ed.] didn't work very well. The second one reduced the tumors by 17 percent. This one was supposed to be the right one, but I didn't support it. They were forced to stop one of the products that composed the treatment, unfortunately the most efficient one. It seems they have not found the right remedy against the illness yet."

    Fignon also discussed assertions that his cancer may be linked to the doping practices he admitted in his autobiographic book "Nous étions jeunes et insouciants" (We were young and carefree) published before he was diagnosed with the illness. "Nobody has an answer to that," he said. "There is nothing that proves that it is linked, but you cannot exclude it, either. In principle, it's not, because then all cyclists would have cancer! When I got ill, I spoke to the doctors about it, and it made them smile. Taking into account the doses, they think it is not linked. But is it an aggravating factor? Maybe."

    A physically affected and fatigued Fignon was realistic about his situation. "I live from day to day. I hope the next treatment will work. Regardless of my...

  • Saxo Bank takes to the roads of Fuerteventura

    Richie Porte, Andy Schleck and Matti Breschel share a joke.
    Article published:
    January 15, 2010, 16:40 GMT
    Cycling News

    Back to business at training camp

    After yesterday's beach volleyball antics the Saxo Bank squad returned to more important matters on Friday with a five-hour training ride along the roads of Fuerteventura.

    After doing a three-hour stint in the saddle the riders were made to do an individual time trial. These shots were taken just before the riders set off.

    Stay tuned for more coverage from the team's camp.

    Cancellara adjusts his shoes.

  • Kessler in induced coma

    Matthias Kessler
    Article published:
    January 15, 2010, 19:40 GMT
    Cycling News

    Condition upgraded to serious

    Matthias Kessler has been put into an induced coma following surgery Friday, and is said to no longer be in critical condition.

    "Matthias Kessler suffered a severe brain trauma. The rider is in serious condition," said a spokesman of the San Dureta Hospital in Palma, Mallorca, according to the SID news agency.

    The former T-Mobile and Astana rider crashed while training earlier this week, when a cat ran into his path. It is not known whether he was wearing a helmet.

    The 30-year-old was suspended for two years for testosterone doping. His suspension ended last summer, and he had not yet found a new team.

  • There's no place like home for Gilbert

    Philippe Gilbert goes on the attack.
    Article published:
    January 15, 2010, 19:47 GMT
    Richard Tyler

    Belgian confident of strong showing in Ardennes Classics

    A relaxed and confident Philippe Gilbert heads home to Belgium after a week-long training camp in Majorca, one of the final steps in his preparation for a season in which he is expected to make an impact on some of cycling's biggest races.

    Installed as an early favourite for this year's Milano-Sanremo and Ronde van Vlaanderen, 27-year-old Gilbert signalled that the Ardennes Classics of Liège-Bastogne-Liège and Flèche Wallonne could be his ultimate goal when the spring one-day races begin in two month's time.

    "I want to win the Ardennes Classics, maybe more than Flanders and Sanremo. I've been living there for 25 years, they're my training roads and I know them back-to-front," he told Cyclingnews on the final day of his team's training camp in Majorca.

    Liège, in particular, appears to be firming as a possible crux of his 2010 season. The combination of a fourth place finish there last season and a boost of confidence provided by victory in the similarly hilly Giro di Lombardia have raised his own expectations of a result.

    "My win at Lombardia had a lot of positive impacts on me - It gave me a lot of confidence and self belief. It's increased the possibilities too, especially for a race like Liège. Last year I had confidence but wasn't sure I could actually win the race. But now I know I can win that race."

    Despite his obvious desire to win on home roads, Gilbert will mount a strong challenge at both Milano-Sanremo and Ronde van Vlaanderen this season. Third at Flanders in 2009 is evidence he can challenge for victory at the cobbled classic, while his Lombardia triumph was enough to immediately convince some observers that similar success in Sanremo is possible.

    "It's still two months away so it's too soon to say, but I have it in my head. I want to win those races [Sanremo and Flanders]; it's a dream that's been in my head for five years," he said.


  • Thousands show for Armstrong’s Tweet ride

    Lance Armstrong (RadioShack) and Robbie McEwen (Katusha) were the focus of media attention.
    Article published:
    January 16, 2010, 1:23 GMT
    Greg Johnson

    Hincapie amongst the professionals on show in Adelaide

    Thousands of local and visiting cyclists joined Lance Armstrong and other professional riders on a group ride in Adelaide, Australia. Armstrong issued an invitation for locals to ride with him via blogging website Twitter on Wednesday.

    Armstrong rode out of Wigley Reserve, by the seaside at Glenelg at 9:00am this morning, with Robbie McEwen and George Hincapie amongst the professional riders taking part in the event. Estimates put the riders in attendance around the 5,000 mark.

    "It was busy and chaotic, but controlled chaos," said Armstrong. "It was certainly the biggest ride that I have been a part of. We gave the Police more notice than was typical [for an impromptu ride], but we had a lot of support from the community and police. It was really helpful.

    "Everyone was mindful of being safe, there were a few crashes behind that I heard, I think everyone was ok," he added, "I think everyone had a good time. It was pretty cool.

    Armstrong is set to contest the ProTour opening Tour Down Under for the second time in as many years next week. He leads the new RadioShack squad, which is managed by former Discovery Channel and Astana director Johan Bruyneel.

    Today’s ride wasn’t the first Tweet ride Armstrong has organised. He previously held rides in Scotland, Ireland and the United States of America, with the Ireland ride seeing more than 1400 people brave wet conditions to ride alongside the seven time Tour de France winner.

    Click here to see the full gallery.