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First Edition Cycling News, Saturday, June 19, 2010

Date published:
June 19, 2010, 1:00 BST
  • Early attack catches Van Avermaet out

    Greg Van Avermaet (Omega Pharma-Lotto) is red-faced from the effort on the climb.
    Article published:
    June 18, 2010, 21:19 BST
    Shane Stokes

    Belgian rider feeling stronger, had hoped to go for stage win

    Omega Pharma Lotto rider Greg Van Avermaet took his highest placing of the 2010 season today, finishing third in stage seven of the Tour de Suisse into Wetzikon. However rather than taking satisfaction from it, he was left thinking about what could have been had things played out a little differently.

    The Belgian was caught out when Marcus Burghardt (BMC Racing) attacked a full 55 kilometres from the end. Like many of the other riders in the break, he thought it was far too soon for a successful move to go clear, but Burghardt ended up being far too strong anyway.

    He hit the line one minute and one second ahead of Oscar Freire (Rabobank), Van Avermaet and Manuel Quinziato (Liquigas), netting his second stage win in three days.

    Van Avermaet had set out with the intention of trying something on the stage, telling Cyclingnews shortly before the start that he would have a go. "I think these next two days are really good for me. I will try an attack," he vowed. "I lost a lot of time yesterday. I think it is better now to go in a break and hopefully they will not be chasing after me. Then I can ride for the victory."

    Part of that plan worked out just fine, but the only snag was the second part of that goal wasn't fulfilled. The problem was Burghardt, who was flying.

    "When he went, I thought it was a bit too early," he told Cyclingnews. "I waited a bit because I was alone and it was 50 kilometres to go. I think it was a bit too early for me. But he was very strong, he got a minute very quickly. After that, we tried to close the gap but it was not easy - he stayed always out front, and I think he was really strong."

    One consolation for Van Avermaet is that his form is clearly on the up. Prior to the Tour de Suisse, his best results were eighth in Brabantse Pijl and seventh on a stage of the Quatre Jours de Dunkerque. He's been feeling good in Switzerland, though.

    "I was a bit closed in on the...

  • Cavendish's rivals out to destroy him, HTC-Columbia DS claims

    With minutes to spare before start, Mark Cavendish appears from the team bus and is instantly swamped by fans and autograph requests.
    Article published:
    June 19, 2010, 9:51 BST
    Cycling News

    Rivals jealous of his success, PIva says

    Mark Cavendish's rivals are out to “destroy” his Tour de France preparations, HTC-Columbia Directeur Sportif Valerio Piva has said. He accused others in the peloton of playing mind games with the Manx sprinter.

    “The competition wants to destroy Mark Cavendish's Tour preparations,” Piva told, because they are jealous of his six stage wins last year.

    "There is a lot of jealousy in the peloton, because Mark won many races last year. They want to get at him mentally for the Tour," said the Italian. "The others make him out to be a devil."
    “Incomprehensible,” Piva continued. “A few weeks before the Tour, and the others want to turn the screws on him.”

    Piva also defended his rider's actions in the crash at the finale of the Tour de Suisse's fourth stage. “He backed off a bit from his line, but others did, too.”

    He concluded that the Manx sprinter did not suffer any serious injuries. “We are not worried about his condition. It's just pain, nothing broken.

  • Schumacher ready for comeback

    Stefan Schumacher (Germany) kits up to go pre-ride the course.
    Article published:
    June 19, 2010, 10:52 BST
    Cycling News

    German hopes for Vuelta ride, but willing to wait until 2011 to start again

    Stefan Schumacher is preparing for his comeback to pro racing after serving a two-year doping-related suspension. His ban runs out at the end of August, but he knows it may be until 2011 before he races again.

    “I am fit and am excited about racing again,” he told the German newspaper

    He is looking to sign with a Professional Continental team, and said that he is holding discussions with several teams.

    Schumacher, 29, denied that he has reached an agreement with the Italian team Acqua & Sapone where he would supposedly be riding with fellow German Matthias Kessler. Kessler, whose two-year-ban for testosterone doping expired last summer, is still recovering from head injuries suffered in a crash on Mallorca earlier this year. “That is not a theme at the moment.”

    It looks more likely that his comeback will be next year rather than this year, he said. “The timing is really not ideal to find a team,” he said, although he has not given up hopes of riding the Vuelta a Espana. That race starts on August 28, the day after his suspension ends.

    Schumacher was suspended for two years after testing positive twice for EPO-CERA during the Tour de France 2008. He also tested positive for the same substance at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing.

  • Hushovd's form coming, hoping to be ready for Tour sprints

    Thor Hushovd (Cervelo TestTeam) speaks to Norwegian TV
    Article published:
    June 19, 2010, 11:19 BST
    Shane Stokes

    Norwegian is gaining confidence as Tour de Suisse continues

    Maillot vert of last year's Tour de France, Thor Hushovd, is rebuilding his form after a recent collarbone fracture, and has said that he is beginning to feel in shape once again.

    “I am starting to feel better now,” he told Cyclingnews after stage seven of the Tour de Suisse. “It has been a hard week, but now with something [racing kilometres] in the legs, it is good.”

    The 32-year-old Norwegian crashed on May 9 while training in Italy, falling when a young girl crossed the road in front of him. She was unhurt but he broke his collarbone, requiring an operation to pin it back together.

    He had shown good form prior to the crash, netting second in Paris-Roubaix and sixth in Milan Sanremo. The Tour de Suisse marked his competitive return and while he has not been inside the top ten on a stage, he said that he believes things are progressing quite well.

    It’s the first time he’s been in this position so close to his big season goal, and he admits to being a bit uncertain as to how things will work out.

    “I hope to be right for the Tour – I’m not sure, but I hope so,” he said. “It is not like the other years where I have done my preparation and I know I will be good. This year, I am more unsure, but I am feeling more and more confident that things will be okay.”

    Hushovd beat Mark Cavendish to win the Maillot Vert in last year’s race. It was his second time to take the green jersey, and he hopes to land a third next month. While his own preparations have not been ideal, he has undoubtedly recognised that his rival’s season has also been complicated.

    Cavendish has landed three wins this season, compared to thirteen by the same point last year.

  • Sky flying high with one-two in Ster Elektrotoer

    Gregory Henderson leads his Sky teammate Russell Downing to a stage 2 victory at Ster Elektrotoer
    Article published:
    June 19, 2010, 11:52 BST
    Cycling News

    Henderson, Downing lead home

    Team Sky took a one-two in the third stage of the Ster Elektrotoer on Friday, with Gregory Henderson and Russell Downing crossing the finish line in the mass sprint with a clear lead over the rest of the peloton.

    Henderson called the finish a “textbook” case. "When Russell took off for the sprint I gave him a bike length or two like I do on the track and then I took a run at it. The speed at the finish was just so high that there was no chance and no time for anyone to come round us.

    "Russell ended up coming second - he came straight back in behind me as I'd gapped the guy who was on my wheel."

    "It was a textbook finish from all the guys and it's nice to come here, show what Team Sky can do and get a stage win."

    Downing was equally pleased. “"I think Columbia came around 2k out over on the left-hand side but didn't get to us and someone else tried on the last corner but we went again with a brilliant train on the front.

    "All the guys were doing massive turns and it's good to be part of a lead-out that wins again."

    The British team was especially happy about the results in light of their loss on Thursday, when the Henderson finished only 11th.

    "We didn't get it right on yesterday's (Thursday's) stage. We just made some simple mistakes but we sat down afterwards, talked it through and vowed to learn from it - and that's exactly what everyone's done. We corrected those simple mistakes today, jockeyed positions around a little bit and it all worked out perfectly.

    Saturday is the race's queen stages, running 194 km through the Belgian hills. "Tomorrow is quite a hard stage so we'll see what happens, see who gets in the mix,” Downing said.

    "And then on Sunday we'll stick to the same plan to today and try and do it all over again."

  • Pereiro expects to be in Astana's Tour team

    Oscar Pereiro (Astana)
    Article published:
    June 19, 2010, 14:40 BST
    Shane Stokes

    Spaniard is impressed by Contador’s determination

    The official lineup of the Astana team for the Tour de France is yet to be released, but 2006 winner Oscar Pereiro said this week that he expected to be part of the selection for the race.

    “Normally, yes,” he replied when asked by Cyclingnews if he would be riding the event. “My level is fine. There is a very good race here [at the Tour de Suisse], the level of the riders is better this year and it is fast all day. What’s clear is that for me and the riders who will go to the Tour de France, being here is good work for the Tour.”

    The 32-year-old Spaniard moved from Caisse d’Epargne to the Astana team of Tour champion Alberto Contador last winter. Having considered retirement he finally decided to continue as a professional rider. He said that the change has been good for him, and that he feels at home with the new team.

    “I’m very happy,” he stated, with genuine enthusiasm. “I needed more motivation, I changed my life a bit and now this has been a very happy year for me.”

    Pereiro said over the winter that he had trained harder than he had done in years. He hasn’t taken any stellar results in 2010 however, with his form best described as solid rather than spectacular; it includes 71st overall in the Tour Down Under and 95th in Paris-Nice, followed by a more encouraging 19th overall in the Volta a Catalunya plus 13th and 17th on stages of the Vuelta a Castilla y Leon.

    He was riding for Contador in some of those races however, and sits 58th overall heading into today’s penultimate stage of the Tour de Suisse.

    Pereiro expects to get the nod when the final line-up for the Tour is announced, having won the race four years ago after Floyd Landis was disqualified. He has also taken a stage and finished tenth overall on three occasions. The pressure of being a team leader is something that doesn’t suit him but he is fully committed...

  • McEwen feeling good pre-Tour

    Robbie McEwen (Katusha) will be hoping for a field sprint at the conclusion of stage 10.
    Article published:
    June 19, 2010, 18:26 BST
    Shane Stokes

    Speed is returning for experienced Australian sprinter

    Triple Tour de France green jersey winner Robbie McEwen is upbeat about his condition heading into what will be his 12th Tour de France, appearing to be fully over the injury he suffered last season.

    "I am feeling good... my form is exactly where I hoped it would be," he told Cyclingnews. "It is probably even a little bit better than I thought it would be."

    The 37-year-old Australian went close to victory on stages four and five of the Tour de Suisse, finishing fifth into Wettingen and then going one place better the following day. "I was fourth the other day when Burghardt won. There were only 60 guys left and had we caught the breakaway, I would have had a stage win. So my condition is really, really good."

    His showing is welcome feedback for him and his team, especially as there were questions this time last year about whether he could return to the top of the sport. He had a bad crash on stage two of the Tour of Belgium, injuring his knee, and had to undergo months of treatment. It's taken some time but for McEwen it's now just a question of chasing big victories again.

    McEwen said that his only concern in the Tour de Suisse was the stomach problems he suffered on Wednesday evening, and their effect on his form on Thursday.

    "I had a really tough day," he explained. "I was a bit sick the night before last with stomach problems. I got over the first two climbs yesterday no problem, but I just ended up running on empty.

    "When you get crook guts, you don't take up the energy from the food and I couldn't get enough in to have any energy. I ran completely empty, but I made it to the finish, was able to eat last night [Thursday] and I feel better."

    McEwen accurately predicted that yesterday's stage would most likely go to a breakaway. He finished in a group over 13 minutes back, crossing the line with fellow sprinters Tom Boonen (Quick Step), Gert Steemans (Team RadioShack) and Gerald Ciolek (Team...

  • Kirchen suffers suspected heart attack

    Kim Kirchen (Team Katusha)
    Article published:
    June 19, 2010, 18:52 BST
    Cycling News

    Update: Katusha rider in medically induced coma

    Katusha rider Kim Kirchen collapsed at his hotel last night following the seventh stage of the Tour de Suisse and was rushed to Zürich hospital.

    Although details are limited, Cyclingnews can confirm that he is in a medically induced coma and will remain in one for 24 hours as doctors evaluate the situation. 

    Initial reports suggest the Luxembourger suffered a heart attack, although these claim have not yet been confirmed.

    Kirchen's teammate Robbie McEwen sent the following message on Twitter earlier today Central European Time (CET) concerning the rider: "Hoping Kim Kirchen will be ok. He collapsed and needed medical treatment late last night. Transported to Zurich hospital," said the Australian.

    Cyclingnews spoke to the Katusha team, who confirmed events: "He is in Zurich hospital and he’s having more tests. Now we just have to wait for more tests."

    We'll endeavour to bring you more information as this story develops.