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First Edition Cycling News, Saturday, January 9, 2010

Date published:
January 09, 2010, 0:00 GMT
  • 2009 Reader Poll: Contador is king

    Alberto Contador will remain with Astana in 2010.
    Article published:
    January 08, 2010, 20:14 GMT
    By:
    Greg Johnson

    Cancellara takes second to Tour winner

    Alberto Contador might not have done the Grand Tour double in 2009, but that didn't stop him from having a brilliant season and winning our best male road rider award. Cyclingnews readers cast 4943 votes for the Tour de France winner, giving him a lead of 1212 votes over Fabien Cancellara.

    Contador's season got off to a great start with a victory at Portugal's Volta ao Algarve, followed by two stage wins at Paris-Nice. Another victory at Vuelta Ciclista al País Vasco was followed by strong form - but no wins - at Criterium du Dauphiné Libéré.

    His Dauphiné form and a victory in the Spanish Individual Time Trial Championship were the perfect lead-in to the Tour de France for Contador. Much was made of the rivalry between the Spaniard and returning teammate Lance Armstrong, but Contador did his talking by dancing on his pedals.

    The results that carried Contador up to, and through, the Tour was enough to secure him the UCI World Ranking.

    2009 was another year of time trial glory for Cancellara, starting with a victory on the Tour of California's prologue. He added to that the Tour's opening stage in Monaco, two Vuelta a España time trial wins and another UCI World Time Trial Championship title.

    But it wasn't just Cancellara's exploits against the clock that earned him second place in the hearts of Cyclingnews readers. Two stage wins at Tour de Suisse formed the basis of his general classification victory, plus he won the Suisse Road Championship jersey.

    Sprint sensation Mark Cavendish got the nod for third place with 2060 votes, while Andy Schleck and Lance Armstrong rounded out the top five. Current International Cycling Union (UCI) World Road Champion Cadel Evans only managed 690 votes, putting him in sixth place.

    Cyclingnews 2009 Reader Poll results - Best male road rider
    1. Alberto Contador: 4943
    2....

  • Lloyd's sight set on second Australian title

    Matthew Lloyd (Silence-Lotto) ascends the Col de la Colombière.
    Article published:
    January 09, 2010, 9:56 GMT
    By:
    Greg Johnson

    Former Champion says Sulzberger, Rogers the riders to watch

    Former Australian Open Road Champion Matthew Lloyd (Silence-Lotto) has named Michael Rogers and Wes Sulzberger (Française des Jeux) as his biggest rivals for tomorrow’s title race. Lloyd confirmed a second green, gold and white jersey is his first objective of the season.

    Lloyd believes temperature will be a factor in tomorrow’s race, with conditions expected to be similar to the near 40 degree conditions today’s women’s race was staged in. Lloyd knows a thing or two about racing in hot conditions; he lost consciousness and collapsed during sweltering conditions at Tour Down Under in 2006.

    "It’s going to be an interesting race I think, given how hot it’s supposed to be," said Lloyd. "I think the temperature is going to definitely play a role towards the end of the race. It will be a pretty tactical battle over the last few laps.

    "Tomorrow I’m going to just really try and have a crack at the title," he added. "I’ll definitely be getting amongst the action and we’ll see how it pans out."

    Lloyd said he’s focusing on the national title as his first season goal, as the Tour Down Under’s ProTour status has increased the attention of sprinters who can handle relatively small climbs on the race. Lloyd is one of several competitors keeping a keen eye on Sulzberger heading into tomorrow’s event, with the Tasmanian touted as a dark horse in the field.

    "I think Mick Rogers and Wes Sulzberger will be strong. Peter McDonald will be in good form – you’re always motivated at the nationals after a win there," he said. "Fly V Australia has also shown its strength in numbers and could come into it."

    The elite men’s field will contest 163.2 kilometres on the Buninyong circuit starting from 11 AM.
     

  • Court stops Kohl's claims against former team doctor

    Austrian Bernhard Kohl at the 2008 Tour de France
    Article published:
    January 09, 2010, 10:30 GMT
    By:
    Susan Westemeyer

    Rider had accused former-Gerolsteiner doctor of involvement in 2008 Tour doping

    An Austrian court has dismissed claims made by Bernhard Kohl that former-Gerolsteiner doctor Mark Schmidt was involved in doping practices at the 2008 Tour de France.

    Kohl tested positive for the EPO derivative CERA at that Tour, and subsequently admitted to doping. In October 2009 he said that Schmidt “oversaw the doping practices” and allowed the rider to use his hotel room for a blood transfusion.

    One of Schmidt's witnesses in the trial was Kohl's ex-manager Stefan Matschiner. The latter swore under oath that the claims he and Schmidt co-ordinated the doping practices at the Tour was unfounded. Matschiner further said that he did not meet Schmidt at the Tour nor that he gave Schmidt a piece of equipment to measure hematocrit.

    “I did not know Mr. Matschiner at the Tour de France,” said Schmidt in a press release. “I only got to know him later at the Deutschland Tour.”

    The court ruled, “It could not be determined that the plaintiff knew of the defendant's doping practices or helped him by the process of doping or with covering it up.”

    Schmidt now serves as team doctor for German ProTour squad Milram.

  • Davis brothers show-off Astana kit in Ballarat

    Allan and Scott Davis sport their new Astana kit whilst training with Leigh Howard (HTC-Columbia)
    Article published:
    January 09, 2010, 10:40 GMT
    By:
    Greg Johnson

    Allan, Scott Davis preview nationals course

    Astana’s newest signings Allan and Scott Davis have shown off their new team kit for the first time while training on the streets around Ballarat and Buninyong in Victoria, Australia.

    The brothers will contest tomorrow’s elite men’s race at the Scody Australian Open Road Championships, with Allan tipped by many as a potential winner on the challenging 162.2 kilometre event. He finished second to Stuart O'Grady in the 2003 title race.

    The Davis brothers spent the morning training with new HTC-Columbia recruit Leigh Howard. Allan and Scott will be the first Australian riders to compete in Astana colours since Aaron Kemps’ last race with the outfit at the end of 2008.

    The Davis brothers signing to the Kazakh team was accidentally announced by a team representative earlier this week, after weeks of rumour about the Allan’s 2010 team. Davis announced last year his request to be released from a final year in his Quick Step contract had been granted, but made no comment over where his future may lay.
     

  • New hope for former Equipe Nürnberger

    The 2009 Equipe Nürnberger
    Article published:
    January 09, 2010, 11:20 GMT
    By:
    Susan Westemeyer

    Sponsors emerge to help team through limited 2010 season

    There is a light at the end of the tunnel for the former Equipe Nürnberger Versicherung. Team managers Herbert and Alexander Oppelt have found a consortium of sponsors who might be willing to support the team this year, with another company has indicated its interest in taking over sponsorship in 2011.

    Herbert Oppelt is “cautiously optimistic” that the team will continue this year. A consortium of sponsors from northern Germany is “very interested” in helping the team for 2010, he told the Nürnberger Zeitung.

    Nürnberger Versicherung ended its sponsorship of the women's team in 2009 after ten years of involvement . Skyter Shipping, a yacht-leasing firm, had agreed to take over sponsorship, but unexpectedly pulled out in early December, leaving the team without a sponsor.

    Oppelt hopes to field a team at the Tour of Qatar, under either a new name, neutral name, or even as a German national team. He reckons to have enough budget to support a minimal team with a mini-budget this season. The team would ride the World Cup races, but would probably have to miss the stage races. “Usually we pay 300,000 euros per season in travelling costs. We have to save there,” Oppelt said.

    Most of the riders have indicated their willingness to stay with the team. Only two riders have left since the news of the financial problems. Charlotte Becker has signed with Cervélo TestTeam, and Eva Lutz has decided to retire. The others, including Olympic Champion Nicole Cooke and German time trial champion Trixi Worrack, have indicated their readiness to stay with the team at reduced salaries. “It shows that the girls have a fantastic character,” said a proud Oppelt.

    If the team can survive this transition year, it would appear to have its future secured. An as-yet-unamed European information-technology company has indicated it would sponsor the team for two years...

  • Ciolek wants a big race win this year

    Gerald Ciolek (Team Milram)
    Article published:
    January 09, 2010, 12:00 GMT
    By:
    Susan Westemeyer

    German confident new sprint train can pave the way for success

    Gerald Ciolek wants to record a big race win this year for Team Milram, in addition to a maiden stage victory at the Tour de France. Aware that Columbia-HTC's Mark Cavendish will once again be the man to beat in the sprints, Ciolek will enter the new season with a lead-out train strengthened by a number of new signings to the team.

    Although hesitant to predict a number of wins for the season, Ciolek will nevertheless head into his sixth professional season with firm ambition. “I would very much like to win a really big race this year. And of course it is still my dream to win a stage at the Tour,” he told Cyclingnews at this week's team presentation in Dortmund, Germany.

    Ciolek, whose face was still swollen after having two wisdom teeth pulled earlier in the week, added that “I can't be satisfied with 2009. I didn't live up to my own expectations.”

    The 23-year-old didn't make significant changes in his season preparations, just tweaks here and there. It was enough that he could say, “I am going into 2010 with a good feeling.”

    The sprinter had only two wins last season, the Trofeo Calvia in February's Mallorca Challenge, and then nothing until the second stage of the Vuelta a España.

    The latter was his first Grand Tour win, and it meant a lot to him. “I had won a race in the spring and then nothing for a long time. After that long dry spell, it was a very, very good success, which brought back my self-confidence.”

    There will be some changes in his sprint lead-out train this year, which may help. “There will be several new riders in the team: Roger Kluge, Luke Roberts, Roy Sentjens is there, too. I think we have significantly strengthened things in that area.”

    However, Ciolek will face the same challenge as every other sprinter – beating Mark Cavendish. “If he is as dominant and strong as last year, then it will be...

  • Saxo Bank ready for challenge of new sponsor search

    Team Saxo Bank leads the group
    Article published:
    January 09, 2010, 13:00 GMT
    By:
    Susan Westemeyer

    Team was surprised by news of bank's withdrawal

    Team Saxo Bank is gearing up for its next challenge, that of finding a new team sponsor. Team General Manager Trey Greenwood said he found the idea of finding a replacement "a big challenge", but that he was optimistic about his chances.

    Friday afternoon the bank announced that it was ending its sponsorship of the Danish ProTour team as of the end of this season.

    "I heard the news Wednesday night," Greenwood told Cyclingnews on Friday. "I didn't sleep at all last night because of calling everyone, all the riders, making sure everyone got the word."

    "We are obviously disappointed and surprised. They are leaving a year early, which was not expected," he said.

    All of the team's experiences with the bank had been positive, Greenwood noted, adding that the bank gave them the news "in good time".

    The bank "has a very narrow client target group, and our appeal was simply too broad for them. They told us, this is not about Team Saxo Bank, it is about Saxo Bank."

    Greenwood, 42, will now turn his attention to finding a new team sponsor. "We have a professional management group, a great team and a good product. There will always be companies out there that can benefit from us – we have to identify and contact them."

    This is not a new situation for him or the team, having done it all once before. Former name sponsor CSC announced in March 2008 that it was ending its co-operation with the team, and Saxo Bank signed with them that summer.

    "We've been through all of this before," he noted. "We came out of that experience with a better organisation and are in better shape to handle this now than we were then."

    Circumstances are better now then they were then, not counting the experience gained in the interim. "We have more time, about three months more for our search. And cycling itself is in better shape now than then. The doping scandals were fresher then. The subject still comes up...

  • Manzano called to testify at Valverde CAS hearing

    Jesus Manzano Photo: © Daniel Schamps
    Article published:
    January 09, 2010, 13:35 GMT
    By:
    Shane Stokes

    Spanish whistleblower previously claimed former Kelme teammate was involved in doping

    Retired professional Jesus Manzano has been called as a witness for Alejandro Valverde’s hearing at the Court of Arbitration in Sport (CAS), which is scheduled to run from next Tuesday to Thursday.

    The Spaniard, who was a teammate of Valverde on the Kelme Costa Blanca squad between 2002 to 2003, has spoken on several occasions of extensive doping practices within the team. He detailed these in a number of articles in the Spanish newspaper AS. Those revelations led to the questioning of former Kelme doctors Walter Virú and Eufemiano Fuentes, as well as Alfredo Córdova, who assisted the team during the 2003 Tour de France.

    The subsequent investigation then led to the Spanish Civil Guard's Operación Puerto, which uncovered a doping network based around Fuentes’ clinic in Madrid. Valverde, Ivan Basso and Jan Ullrich were amongst the professional riders to be implicated in the investigation.

    Valverde, the winner of the 2009 Vuelta a España, has repeatedly denied involvement in banned practices, but faces two CAS hearings in the next two and half months.

    The first is an appeal lodged by him against the Italian Olympic Committee’s (CONI) ruling in May of last year, which banned him from racing in Italy for two years. This stopped him from taking part in the 2009 Tour de France, which briefly passed through Italy.

    CONI, the International Cycling Union (UCI) and World Anti-doping Agency (WADA) will all testify against Caisse d’Epargne rider Valverde next week. The outcome of this appeal will determine whether or not the Italian ban will stand.

    A second hearing, with potentially greater implications for Valverde’s career, will take place from March 18-21. This was requested by the UCI and WADA, and is an appeal against the Spanish cycling federation’s decision not to discipline the rider. It could potentially result in a worldwide ban for...