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First Edition Cycling News, Saturday, March 13, 2010

Date published:
March 13, 2010, 0:00 GMT
  • Sagan improvised second Paris-Nice win

    Sagan had time to celebrate
    Article published:
    March 12, 2010, 19:30 GMT
    Jean-François Quénet

    Slovakian opted for solo move instead of sprinting

    Peter Sagan revealed he improvised a different tactic in the finale of stage five at Paris-Nice than what his Liquigas-Doimo team had planned for him. "I was told I would be able to win a sprint finish today," the 20-year-old Slovakian said after claiming his second stage win in "the race to the sun". "I didn't know the uphill finish was so hard.

    "When I saw a gap behind me with 1.5km to go, I decided to go full gas because I was feeling good and there was nobody on my wheel. I'm very happy to have won a second time at Paris-Nice. This is of course more than I expected."

    Asked if he was prepared for attending the winner's press conference again on Saturday and Sunday, he proved to be a very humble young champion. "It's probably gonna be harder for me in the next two days because the hills are more difficult than today's," he said. "I've realized yesterday that a 3km climb is too hard for me for now. I'm still very young. I'm not strong enough to follow Alberto Contador. I prefer the climbs that are very steep but not too long. Maybe this is my true speciality although I don't know yet what I'll be the best at in the future."

    His roommate Frederik Willems mentioned that he'd love to do well again in Paris-Roubaix, a race he finished in second place in the junior ranks. "I'm not going to do it this year," Sagan said. "I'll be riding the prologue of the Tour of Turkey that day in Istanbul."

    He also ruled out the possibility of starting Milano-Sanremo next week - a race Eddy Merckx won for the first time at the same age of 20 in 1966. "I would like to do it but I only want to think of Paris-Nice for now, after that I'll have three free weeks and I'll go home to Slovakia. I do whatever my team says, I don't do what I want to do. I have time. I'm not in a hurry."

    He's over the moon as his friends and family back home see him winning on the roads of Paris-Nice as they watch the live coverage on Eurosport. "After my first stage...

  • Calzati loves a blue Sky, not cold weather

    Sylvain Calzati (Sky) with his daughter Emma after the stage 5 finish in Aix-en-Provence.
    Article published:
    March 12, 2010, 19:59 GMT
    Jean-François Quénet

    Frenchman animates Paris-Nice as temps rise

    Sylvain Calzati (Sky) was one of the most active riders in the four-man breakaway on the way to Aix-en-Provence during the fifth stage of Paris-Nice. This came in contrast with his low morale the day before when he complained about his performances being affected by the cold weather.

    "I was happy with my prologue," he told Cyclingnews. "A 33-second deficit to Lars Boom and finishing in the first quarter (44th) was pretty good for me because this is not my speciality. But in the following three stages, I suffered like hell. I definitely cannot handle the cold anymore. But as soon as the sun shines and the temperature rises a bit, I feel good again.

    "I went on the attack today because I just love fighting on a bike," he continued. "I believed a little bit in the possibility of winning the stage. I was less confident when [Rein] Taaramae joined us. I still don't understand what he did that for. Without him, we had more chances to succeed. Then AG2R led the charge but they didn't catch anyone, except [Thomas] Voeckler who had a puncture."

    The 30-year-old from Lyon has had a difficult off-season due to the bad winter in Europe. "I feel sorry for Team Sky that my competitiveness is a little delayed," he said. "But for the first time since 2004, when I started well with Oktos [2nd at the Etoile de Bessèges], I've had no physical problem in the early part of the season. That's why I managed to break away today. I still have a lot of work to do to get in my best form, though, but I hope to do well at the Criterium International two weeks from now."

    The former Agritubel rider, winner of a stage in the 2006 Tour de France with AG2R, enjoys his time at Sky. "This team is super," he said. "The atmosphere is great. There's no pressure, or lets say there's a positive pressure, but even if we don't win the management keeps their faith in us. This is rare in the world of cycling.

    "For now, everything is great in this team....

  • Taaramae comes of age, still makes mistakes

    Rein Taaramae (Cofidis) put in a strong performance in Mende.
    Article published:
    March 12, 2010, 21:30 GMT
    Jean-François Quénet

    Estonian champion leads Cofidis at Paris-Nice

    It was a surprise for everyone to see Rein Taaramae (Cofidis) reinforce the breakaway comprised of Sylvain Calzati (Sky), Carlos Barredo (Quick Step) and Volodymir Gustov (Cervélo) with a bit more than 30km to go in stage 5 of Paris-Nice. "We also didn't understand what he wanted to do, that wasn't part of our plan," Cofidis' directeur sportif Francis Vanlondersele told Cyclingnews in Aix-en-Provence.

    The Estonian realized his mistake as nobody else from the group of the favourites made the jump to the breakaway with him. "I was too highly placed on GC," Taaramae said. "The other riders in the break asked me to go back to the bunch. When my directeur sportif said okay, I did it."

    "All the teams concerned about the overall classification would have chased behind him," Vanlondersele said. "However, I'm more reassured about Rein's condition today than at the beginning of Paris-Nice when he didn't look very confident in himself."

    The 23-year-old is now Cofidis' best chance to do well in stage races after he won the Tour de l'Ain and finished third at the Tour of Romandie last year. "He's able to make the top 10 in Paris-Nice," Vanlondersele said. "It's not easy because there are a lot of great riders here. He could even target the top five.

    "He's now mature enough for winning nice races. He's got the potential and a team backing him at certain races. He's still young in his mind, though. He keeps making some mistakes and losing energy in the wind but we're getting there."

    The Estonian champion lies in tenth position, 1:06 behind Alberto Contador (Astana). Taaramae's considered one of the best prospects of the same generation as Roman Kreuziger (Liquigas-Doimo) for the stage races in the coming years. Taaramae's debut at the Tour de France is highly expected in a country that has lived its cycling madness 10 years ago with a famous sprinter, Jaan Kirsipuu.

  • A good test for Le Mével

    Christophe Le Mevel (Française Des Jeux)
    Article published:
    March 12, 2010, 22:25 GMT
    Hedwig Kröner

    French Tour GC hopeful happy with his Paris-Nice

    Christophe Le Mével is having a good time in this year's Paris-Nice. The Française des Jeux stage race hopeful is not a contender for overall honours in the 'race to the sun', but was able to test his legs against top favourites such as current race leader Alberto Contador (Astana) and Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne).

    In the event's fourth stage to Mende, the race's only uphill finish where Contador took the victory as well as the yellow jersey, Le Mével gave it everything to see where he stands in comparison to the 2009 Tour de France winner.

    "I knew it might be a bit suicidal to do this with Contador, but this way I was able to understand his accelerations and what I have to do to keep up," he told Cyclingnews at the start of stage five in Pernes-les-Fontaines on Friday.

    For the 2009 Tour de France top 10 finisher, it was important to follow Contador's attack to judge his shape. "It's always interesting. You have to do these sort of things to see if it works out for you or not. I wasn't too successful as I only finished eighth on the stage, but still - I didn't crunch in the end so it was a good test for later in the year," he said.

    Le Mével, currently France's best-placed Tour de France rider, also finished tenth overall in both Paris-Nice and the Dauphiné Libéré last year. His main goal this season, is of course the nation's Grand Tour, but "the races before it, like Paris-Nice, Volta a Catalunya, Tour de Romandie and Dauphiné, will be good tests to see where I stand compared to my rivals. Especially the Dauphiné - that's where it will really be interesting before the Tour."

    Come July, the 29-year-old will not only have to prove but improve his abilities. "At the Tour, I would like to do a bit better than my tenth placing last year. That's only logical," he said. "Of course, I would also like to win a stage, but the two objectives are...

  • Cancellara aiming for Ronde van Vlaanderen

    Fabian Cancellara celebrates win number three in the world championship time trial.
    Article published:
    March 13, 2010, 9:52 GMT
    Cycling News

    Uncertain about defending Worlds time trial title

    Fabian Cancellara has this year's Ronde van Vlaanderen firmly in his sights, but refuses to say the same thing for the World Championships in Australia. The Saxo Bank rider is determined to win the Belgian race at his eighth attempt, but doesn't yet know if he will ride the World time trial in Melbourne.

    “Of the five monuments, it is maybe the most difficult to win,” he told the Swiss newspaper Der Bund. “But it is missing from my palmares.”

    Cancellara has ridden the Tour of Flanders every year since 2003, with his highest placing being sixth in 2006. He has had more luck with the World time trial championships, which he has won three times, in 2006, 2007 and 2009. But he is not sure whether he will even ride the race this year. “Would a fourth title bring me anything? I don't want to sound arrogant, but it is boring to keep on winning the same race. The title race on the road is more attractive.”

    The Swiss rider's future is equally uncertain. Saxo Bank has announced it will stop sponsoring the Danish team the end of this season. Cancellara has a contract with team owner Bjarne Riis through 2011, but has been mentioned in connection with a possible new team to be formed by brothers Andy and Fränk Schleck, who are good friends of his.

    “I don't know anything,” he said. “A lot of people are talking about how they would like to set up their own team. But when it comes to finances, they quiet down. If I had the money, I would help set up my own team. But to realise such a project, I would need about 15 million Euro a year.”

  • Killington Stage Race returns after a decade hiatus

    George Hincapie (BMC) looking splendid in his USA gear.
    Article published:
    March 13, 2010, 13:07 GMT
    Kirsten Frattini

    Three-day race to be held at the end of May

    The Killington Stage Race was one of the most prestigious road cycling event in eastern United States of America but disappeared ten years ago. This year, it returns as a three-day stage race held from May 29-31 in Vermont.

    “It’s really exciting to bring this event back,” said Race Director Gary Kessler. “It’s a long and storied history. I personally loved to race in this event and spent most of my season planning for it. Many younger racers have heard of it and have told me they are looking forward to getting to race in it. I know it also means a lot to the local community to have the event back as well. They are looking forward to welcoming the racers to the area.”

    The Killington Stage Race was founded in 1987 and ran for 14 years before being cancelled in 2000 due to a loss of funding and revenue. Organizer Gery Kessler is responsible for the event’s return with help of financial backing from the Killington Economic Development & Tourism Board.

    "We're excited to help bring back the Killington Stage Race and hope to attract the top amateur cyclists from the Northeastern United States and Canada." said Seth Webb the Director of the Killington Economic Development and Tourism Commission.

    Ten years ago, the Killington Stage Race was a top tier event that drew in the top professional men and women in the nation to compete. Competitors included George Hincapie, who won the overall title in 1998 and former stage winners brothers Frank and Mark McCormack and Chris Wherry. On the women’s side, French legend Jeanne Longo won the overall title in 2000.

    Kessler hopes to bring the event back to the National Racing Calendar
    (NRC) in the future. “This first year I’m just working to get the race up and running. Once we have it started and based on sponsorship we will look at NRC. The race had been UCI sanctioned in the past I understand.”

    The Killington...

  • O’Neill welcomes Landis to Bahati Foundation team

    Nathan O'Neill (Health Net-Maxxis)
    Article published:
    March 13, 2010, 13:54 GMT
    Kirsten Frattini

    Starts season in San Dimas, Redlands

    Nathan O’Neill has welcomed Floyd Landis to the Bahati Foundation Pro Cycling Team as he makes his own return to professional bike racing.

    O’Neill recently finished a two-year suspension for doping after testing positive for the appetite suppressant phenteramine at the Tour of Elk Grove in August 2007. He and Landis will join up with all their new teammates for a weeklong training camp from March 13-19 in Agoura Hills, California.

    The Bahati Foundation Pro Cycling Team recently announced the signing of Landis. He returned to racing last year following his two-year suspension for elevated levels of synthetic testosterone at the 2006 Tour de France. He returned to racing last year with the OUCH presented by Maxxis team.

    “I think the obvious thing is that he garners a lot of attention for the team and for the foundation,” O’Neill said. “I only see that as a good thing. I know Floyd is extremely excited to be a part of the program and to be getting back to the communities and the kids. That is something that is very positive for the younger generations. That’s the primary thing that I see Floyd is able to do for the team.”

    O’Neill admitted that jumping back into the peloton after a two-year absence will not be an easy task. He hopes to learn from Landis’
    experience last year.

    “He has been through what I’m probably about to go through,” O’Neill said.“I will certainly try to speak with him about how he got through his first year back and hopefully I can learn from whatever mistakes he made and get through the racing as best I possibly can.”

    O’Neill especially missed the team bonding experience during his absence from professional cycling. When asked how it felt to participate in a pre-season team launch and training camp, O’Neill said: “It’s really cool and hard to describe. You don’t realize...

  • Cervélo's last minute recruit Tondo proves his worth

    Xavier Tondo (Cervélo Test Team) enjoys the limelight after winning stage 6 of Paris-Nice
    Article published:
    March 13, 2010, 18:38 GMT
    Jean-François Quénet

    Paris-Nice stage winner justifies his spot on the team

    In December, Xavier Tondo was picked up by Cervélo as their final recruit for the 2010 season. Today, the Spaniard delivered an unexpected result in one of his first appearances with the Swiss team with a stage victory in Paris-Nice.

    The win was well deserved after Tondo's gritty solo effort during the final 35 kilometres of the stage. He escaped from the 23-men breakaway which had been away since the second climb, 180km earlier.

    "I knew it would be very difficult to stay in the lead but I had to give everything I had left," the Spaniard said. "As a sprinter, I'm totally hopeless. Had I stayed with Damiano Cunego, I had no chance of winning. Fortunately, a few seconds lead have been enough for me in the finale."

    "It's been one month since he was talking about Paris-Nice," Cervélo's directeur sportif Philippe Mauduit explained. "At our first training camp in Tenerife in December, he said he had a dream program. We were looking at a climber able to help Carlos Sastre at the Giro d'Italia. Honestly, we didn't expect him to be at this level at Paris-Nice."

    Tondo, who rode for Andalucia last year, was also considered by Astana to become a right-hand man for Alberto Contador. "I had other offers as well", said the winner of the 2008 Tour of Portugal.

    "Cervélo's directeur sportif Alex Sanz Vega managed to convince me to join Carlos Sastre, who is one of my favourite riders. This is an ideal team for me because I also have the opportunity to ride for myself sometimes like today. Actually I was hoping for a good result overall."

    That goal was all but lost on stage 5, when he got trapped by a split in the bunch and lost his 12th place overall. "That's how a stage win became my goal", he said.

    The 31-year-old started his career in 2003 with modest outfit Paternina-Costa de Almeria and rode for secondary Spanish and Portuguese teams.

    "After the results I got in 2005 (winner of the Tour...