Belgian ProTour Team looks forward and back at start of 2010
Team Omega Pharma-Lotto has greeted the New Year with a new name and a new website, as well as its wish list for 2010 and a look back at 2009.
The team has taken on the full name of co-sponsor Omega Pharma, publicising the company itself rather than individual products as it has in the past.
Looking back to the past year, general manager Geert Coeman noted that the team got off to “a (rather too) slow start” on the season, but things developed well over the season. The year was capped off not only by Philippe Gilbert's string of victories the end of the year but also by Cadel Evans' victory in the World Championships.
The team's top priority this year will be winning a Spring Classic. Gilbert will aim for Milano-Sanremo “and, why not,” at the Ronde van Vlaanderen. Leif Hoste “will forget his last unhappy year and look forward to the Ronde and Paris-Roubaix."
With Evans having left the team, Jurgen Van den Broeck will be the man for the Grand Tours, helped by newcomer Daniel Moreno.
Sports Manager Marc Sergeant also shared his thoughts, noting that 2009 “ brought us all sorts of miseries and problems as well as disillusions by results and by men, but I prefer to remember the fantastic moments we lived through our riders.”
Bicycle manufacturer Specialized announced today that it will supply the Astana team in 2010, something it admits is the "worst kept secret of all time". The company ended its relationship with the Quick Step team in favour of the squad of two-time Tour de France winner Alberto Contador.
Contador said in a statement that he has already been training on his new equipment, and said he has been happy with the change.
"The bike meets all my requirements, it is rigid, lightweight and above all, Specialized are open to all suggestions, which is important, because winning often depends on small details. It's the same for everything, I am very pleased with all the team equipment. We have chosen what we felt was the best in every case, groups, wheels, tires and clothing. For me it's fundamental."
Contador has completed his first block of training, and is looking forward to beginning the 2010 season at the Volta ao Algarve in Portugal on February 17.
"Last year, I really liked the race and I think it is an ideal way to start the season. In 2009 I won, but this year I'm going to take it relatively easy, although I always like to show up in good form for races, and I am eager to start racing."
Next on the agenda is Paris-Nice, a race which Contador looked to win before he had one bad day and lost the overall lead to his fellow Spaniard Luis Leon Sanchez. This year, Contador said he aims to focus on getting his Astana team well coordinated and to use tactics to control the race.
After the RadioShack team of Lance Armstrong gutted the Astana roster, taking most of the team's strongest riders, Contador says the team is starting from zero, with almost everything being new. However, he has faith that the team will come through.
"I am confident about my teammates and I think we'll have a strong and competitive team this year. Everyone is very motivated because we know we will always have a lot of responsibility and cannot...
Schick, Banana Boat and Energizer brands sign on as sponsors
US-based Continental team Kelly Benefit Strategies has bolstered its green-clad jersey with three new sponsors Schick, Banana Boat and Energizer - all brands of the Energizer Asia Pacific Division.
"I met with Schick about two and half years ago," said the team's Managing Director, Charles Aaron. "We originally wanted to elaborate and use them as a role for a potential women's side of the team. An opportunity came together for 2010. I'm fond of the people at Schick, they have a vision and they want to stay to it."
"It was something we worked hard at over late night conversations and we are happy to have these people on board," he continued. "To be the platform they want to use in the south-east Asia and Asia market place."
Schick, a widely known razor blade brand first sponsored the Target Training Women's Professional Cycling Team in 2007. The east-coast women's team disbanded one year later and owner Greg Wolf put the company's brand manager in contact with Aaron for a potential sponsorship.
"During economic struggle, companies look at strategic ways to save money," Aaron said. "This brings us a strategic sponsor and a brand presence to a level we can grow our program in the toughest economy since the great depression. We have goals and objectives for our sponsors in KBS and Schick. We like to call them partners. We want to meet their goals and they see us as a good platform for their brands."
Kelly Benefit Strategies will return to defend its title in this year's Tour of Thailand. It will continue to have a strong presence in the Asian market at races in Singapore and China. The team will also target the Vuelta Ciclista del Uruguay.
Races in the US will include the US Pro Championships, the Philadelphia International Cycling Championships and the Tour of California, should it receive an invitation. The team will also focus on east coast races where title sponsor Kelly Benefit Strategies has a strong market.
Third place in first race after injury plagued season
It’s not often a super competitive sprinter like Robbie McEwen is happy with finishing runner up, but that’s exactly how the Queenslander felt after finishing third at the opening Jayco Bay Cycling Classic stage. The race marked McEwen’s return to racing after an injury plagued 2009 season that saw him recovering more often than racing.
"It’s great to be back out there and amongst it," said McEwen. "In other years I might have been disappointed to run third, but the result is probably the least of my worries at the moment. Just getting through it unscathed and getting back amongst it, I’ll build on top of that.
"I’m here to get race fit," he added. "If I happen to win a round along the way, that’d be great, but I’m happy just to be out there. My knee’s not sore riding around at the front of the bunch. I’ve started off with a third, I’ll try and I’ll try to build it up as we go through the series."
McEwen hit a street sign with his left knee at the Tour of Belgium in May last year, fracturing his shinbone and slicing through ligaments in his leg. McEwen admitted barely a moment goes by when he’s not thinking about his knee and its recovery.
"It’s on my mind 24/7," he said. "Every time I do something with it, whether I’m getting out of bed, sitting on the ergo or out on the road doing a sprint, I’m constantly thinking about how my knee is feeling. It’s the same today; I’m seeing how it feels using big gears, small gears. It’s just something that’s unavoidable.
"It felt good, no pain, no stiffness, so I think with a few more races in it, it will just get better and better," he said.
McEwen is the most successful sprinter in Australian cycling history, having amassed 12 Tour de France stage victories during a career spanning back to 1996. While McEwen is also a former Australian Road Champion, his...
Quick Step has settled their full 27-man roster for 2010, with three new riders signed to the coming season. The Belgian team has also revealed the first official images of the squad's 2010 kit.
Belgians Iljo Keisse, 27, and Nikolas Maes, 23, are joined by German sprinter Andreas Stauff, 22, as the new additions to the team, which will be built around established riders Tom Boonen, Stijn Devolder, Sylvain Chavanel and Carlos Barredo.
Despite the relative youth of Maes and Stauff, the team does not include any neo-pros. Both riders have competed as professionals for a number of years, albeit at the tiers beneath the ProTour level. Keisse, too, will make his ProTour debut with the team
In 2009, Quick Step took a number of significant victories, including Boonen and Devolder's respective Spring Classic wins at Paris-Roubaix and Ronde van Vlaanderen, and Barredo's triumph at the Clásica San Sebastián.
Tom Boonen has already indicated that a fourth Paris-Roubaix title will be an early season priority for 2010.
Despite the team's continued focus on their established Classic stars, team manager Patrick Lefevere recently showed his interest in high general classification results at Grand Tours with his ultimately unsuccessful attempt to recruit Alberto Contador to the team.
The burden of responsibility for those high results looks likely to fall on the younger members of the team. Quick Step said they will look to riders such as Kevin Seeldraeyers - winner of the Giro d'Italia's young rider classification - to step up a level in the new season. Seeldraeyers, 23, is therefore likely to be given the opportunity to improve on what was a 14th place overall finish in his second Grand Tour start.
The team has also revealed their 2010 kit, based closely on the retro design the squad was banned from using during the 2009 spring classics season. The predominantly blue jersey includes the logo of new bike...
German dissatisfied with his performance in first year with Silence-Lotto
Sebastian Lang has expressed dissatisfaction with his performance in his debut season with Belgian team Silence-Lotto. The 30-year-old German's frank assessment of his 2009 season came after he joined his teammates for a 10-day training camp in Benicassim, Spain in mid-December.
Lang's move to Silence-Lotto at the end of 2008 was the first of his now eight-year career. While pleased with the change of scenery from former squad Gerolsteiner, he was nonetheless disappointed with his results in the first 12 months of service for his current employer.
"After seven years with Gerolsteiner the change to the Belgian team was good for my motivation. Despite illness and a number of falls, I repeatedly had the inner drive to get me to work my way out of any lows," wrote Lang on his personal website.
"Yet, the disruptions have greatly influenced the entire year. Even if, as a new rider, I was able to go to the team's most important races of the year, the Tour of Flanders and the Tour de France, I am not happy with my season. I did not manage to demonstrate my time trial ability or produce a particularly good result [during the year]."
Lang joined his teammates at pre-Christmas camp in Benicassim, Spain where the riders underwent a range of tests between training rides. The camp was also the first chance for the team, now Omega Pharma-Lotto, to come together prior to the New Year.
A veteran of five Tours de France, the 2006 German time trial champion said his hope for the new season will be to repay his team's faith with podium appearances.
"In the Tour de France, I was able to support the team very well and generally I was always there when I was needed," he said. "The great motivation now is to produce a convincing second year with my Belgian team; with results."
Omega Pharma-Lotto will come together for a final pre-season training camp in Majorca, Spain on January 13.
Kolobnev, Rodriguez and Kirchen ready for Katusha debuts
Team Katusha has unveiled their new kit as they released images of the latest additions to their 27-man roster for the 2010 season.
Alexander Kolobnev (from Saxo Bank), Joaquin Rodriguez (Caisse d'Epargne) and Kim Kirchen (Columbia-HTC) form three of the nine new faces in the Katusha line-up. The trio joined fellow recruits Marco Bandiera (Lampre-NGC), Timofey Kritskiy (Katusha Continental), Artem Ovechkin (neo-pro), Alexandre Pliuschin (Ag2r-La Mondiale), Egor Silin (neo-pro) and Eduard Vorganov (Xacobeo-Galicia) for the team's promotional shots, which show off the latest tweaks to the squad's kit for 2010.
Katusha completed their first training camp together last month and the majority of the team roster will again come together for another 12-day camp from January 9 to 21, with the remainder of the squad to kick off the season at the Tour Down Under on January 19.
After 12 years as a professional road cyclist, Burke Swindlehurst has announced a career change to a revitalizing multi-discipline cycling adventure in 2010. The Salt Lake City, Utah native has rallied together over a decade's worth of past, present and future support networks to build Team Give/Blackbottoms fueled by First Endurance.
"I've been doing this for 12 years and I'm ready for a change," Swindlehurst told Cyclingnews. "I need to keep things fresh and as I get older it's not a physical decline because I actually feel better physically but maintaining motivation is the rub. You have to do things that keep you fresh and that keep the motivation strong."
Swindlehurst, 36, is recognized as one of the most successful climbers in the United States of America. Few people know that his passion for cycling extends beyond the road scene to include mountain biking. This year, the decorated professional will combine his expertise in road cycling with his passion for mountain biking in to a one-man team dedicated to raising awareness for the not-for-profit organization Team Give.
"In the traditional way that things are set up on a pro team, managers aren't so partial to having their riders out racing on mountain bikes on the weekend, understandably, because of potential injury and sponsor conflicts," Swindlehurst said. "I've done mountain biking because I have enjoyed it. I have other road riding friends that have the same passion for mountain biking. I was thinking about why I couldn't do both in one season. Why I couldn't find sponsors that have interests in both disciplines and to have all my sponsors be behind it and not care either way about what sport I'm dong so long as I was getting their names out there and that spurred me into action this year."
Team Give is a not-for-profit organization founded by cycling enthusiast Callahan Williams. It is remembered for being the title sponsor of the yellow leader's jersey at the...