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First Edition Cycling News, Saturday, March 5, 2011

Date published:
March 05, 2011, 0:00 GMT
  • Cancellara fresh for Monte Paschi Strade Bianche

    Defending champion Fabian Cancellara (Leopard Trek).
    Article published:
    March 04, 2011, 17:13 GMT
    By:
    Daniel Benson

    Leopard Trek racer sets modest objectives

    Fabian Cancellara (Leopard Trek) heads into Saturday's Monte Paschi Strade Bianche looking to ignite his season. The time trial world champion suffered a rare time trial defeat at the Tour of Oman but begins a crucial part of the spring this weekend which will see him lead the team at Strade Bianche, Tirreno-Adriatico and Milan San Remo.

    "The training as been going fine and I've had some good feelings in my legs. It's a nice race here at Strade Bianche and I'm looking forward to it," Cancellara told Cyclingnews.

    "I've already won it, and I'm looking ahead to a big block of racing now, starting tomorrow and then heading into Tirreno-Adriatico and Milan San Remo. I'm still trying to find some better condition, but I think it's coming."

    In 2008, Cancellara won all three races in a blistering few weeks but despite not racing since the Tour of Oman, he believes that taking a rest and missing Omloop and Kuurne-Brussels-Kuure were the right choices. As for this weekend's hilly parcours and his chances, the Swiss time trial specialist has set himself one sole objective - to get the best out of himself.

    "You can look back to different years, but the situations and the sensations are never the same. When I won Strade Bianchi a few years ago I didn't come with my best form and ended up winning at the first attempt. I'm sure that tomorrow I'll try and get the best out of myself, that's the mission."

    The burden to secure Leopard Trek's inaugural win has already been lifted, after Dominic Klemme won La Samyn on Wednesday. Until that point Leopard had gone close, securing eight podium places.

    "In one way it has taken away some pressure," Cancellara said,...

  • AIGCP threatens "drastic action" if radio ban is not repealed

    The riders of the Challenge Mallorca mounted a protest against the UCI's ban on radios at non-World Tour events.
    Article published:
    March 04, 2011, 20:30 GMT
    By:
    Cycling News

    Professional teams' association unhappy with UCI

    The AIGCP (International Association of Professional Cycling Groups) met on Friday for its first general assembly of the 2011 season. The main topic of discussion was the UCI's ban on race radios. Unhappy with the UCI's unwillingness to repeal the radio ban, the AIGCP threatened "drastic action" if there is no repeal by May 1, 2011.

    "The AIGCP ask the UCI to rescind the regulation regarding the radio ban. If this regulation is not rescinded by the first of May, 2011, the teams have unanimously agreed on a drastic action," read a statement from the AIGCP released late on Friday. "This action will not be made public at this time, but the UCI will be informed of its content.

    "The UCI, and its President, Pat Mcquaid, will receive a document, signed by all the teams, that outlines the full content of our thoughts. While humbly hand written during discussion, the UCI can be sure of the solidarity of the teams and the depth of the letters content."

    UCI rule 2.2.024 phased in bans of radio communications in all events outside the World Calendar.

    According to the AIGCP, its members unanimously oppose the ban on radios. "While some members of the AIGCP feel more or less strongly about the rule regarding radios, what we all feel very strongly about is the manner in which this rule was introduced."

    The statement explained the motives behind the AIGCP's threatened retaliation.

    "This rule was not discussed nor voted on by the PCC (Professional Cycling Council), which is the advisory board concerning professional cycling, which contains two representatives from the teams. Even if it had been, the PCC holds no final power on the introduction of new rules. The decision was made unilaterally by the management committee of the UCI, which does not contain any...

  • Hard, dangerous day for Contador at Vuelta Ciclista a la Region de Murcia

    Alberto Contador (Saxo Bank) finished in the bunch
    Article published:
    March 05, 2011, 9:23 GMT
    By:
    Cycling News

    Spaniard avoids crash near end of final stage

    Alberto Contador had a tough day at the 179km opening stage of the Vuelta Ciclista a la Region de Murcia on Friday. Riders started in San Pedro del Pinatar and finished in Alhama de Murcia.

    "It was a hard and dangerous day," said the Spaniard. Racers faced cold and rainy conditions.

    Saxo Bank Sungard's Contador finished the first stage in 14th place, two seconds behind the winner, sprinter Michael Matthews (Rabobank).

    The conditions made for treacherous conditions near the end of the stage, especially on the descent after the final climb. There was a crash in the last kilometre, but it was without consequences for Contador or his Saxo Bank-Sungard teammates.

    "The stage looked like it would be easier, but it has been complicated by the rain. The last part of the stage was very dangerous, but we got through the day without falling. I don't know if there were gaps in the end, but we managed to finish ahead (in the main bunch)."

    Looking ahead to stage 2 on Saturday, he said its finale "will be different, but also complicated because the stage ends after eight kilometres downhill. If we have a bad day like today, there will be more gaps on the descent than on the climb."

    Contador named Denis Menchov (Geox-TMC) as a rider to watch. "On a day like today you don't see too much of him, but Menchov has been the most involved in the race at all times."

    The Murcia event is Contador's second race back in the peloton since the Spanish Federation cleared him of wrongdoing after he...

  • Cunego inspired to ride Strade Bianche by Giro d'Italia stage

    Damiano Cunego (Lampre-ISD)
    Article published:
    March 05, 2011, 10:06 GMT
    By:
    Barry Ryan

    Italian was second on epic day to Montalcino in 2010

    Damiano Cunego makes his debut in the Monte Paschi Strade Bianche on Saturday and the Lampre-ISD rider explained that he was encouraged to do so by his strong performance on similar terrain at last year’s Giro d’Italia.

    “I’ve never done it,” Cunego told Gazzetta dello Sport. “But at the 2010 Giro d’Italia, on the stage to Montalcino on more or less these roads, the only thing missing in the end was the win.”

    On a tough day of racing in Tuscany last May, when torrential rain turned the famed white dust roads into a mud bath, Cunego did battle with world champion Cadel Evans and Alexandre Vinokourov in the finale, and delivered one of his best displays in what was a frustrating season overall.

    “Second place behind Cadel Evans, in the cold, in the rain and on unmade roads that had turned into mud, into a mire of shifting sands,” he recalled. “It was a really hard and memorable day.”

    After a winless 2010, Cunego was relieved to open his account for this year with a stage victory at the Giro di Sardegna. He lines up in Gaiole in Chianti with a burden lifted from his shoulders and he is keen to use the event as an important pre-Classics test.

    “At almost 200km, with changes in rhythm and certain climbs, it could prove to be the perfect build-up race to my big objectives, which remain the Ardennes Classics,” he said. “What happens, happens.”

    Cunego reconnoitred the final 40km of the race on Friday and he was impressed by what he saw along the way, particularly on the approach to...

  • Vacansoleil-DCM sees no problem with Giro d'Italia start

    The 2011 Vacansoleil team
    Article published:
    March 05, 2011, 11:19 GMT
    By:
    Cycling News

    Dutch team dismisses rumours that it won't be invited to participate

    Vacansoleil-DCM says that it does not expect that its ride in the Giro d'Italia is in danger. The teams for the Giro are to be announced on Monday, and there have been rumours that the Dutch team will not received an invitation, although all ProTeams are eligible to ride.

    "I even heard through the grapevine that our participation in the Tour of Italy would be threatened,”Sport Director Michel Cornelisse told Sportwereld.

    Cyclingnews was told that Vacansoleil might not be invited due to problems with Riccardo Riccò and Ezequiel Mosquera. The team signed Riccò after his return from a doping ban, but cancelled his contract last month after he was hospitalized following an alleged contaminated blood transfusion.

    Mosquera tested positive for HES on his way to finishing second at last year's Vuelta a Espana. His case is far from resolved and the team has said that it will not race him until there is a conclusion.

    "Riccò? Surely there is no problem with Riccò and Vacansoleil? He was fired for something that was his own fault. If the organization has this problem then I find that very strange,” Cornelisse said.

    “Mosquera? The UCI is still investigating the matter. We put him on inactive status. What more can we do? No. I think there is no problem. We assume that we will start in the Giro.”

  • Sagan primed for Paris-Nice

    Peter Sagan (Liquigas-Cannondale)
    Article published:
    March 05, 2011, 12:32 GMT
    By:
    Barry Ryan

    Slovak builds for Classics in France

    Peter Sagan (Liquigas-Cannondale) was the revelation of the 2010 Paris-Nice, winning two stages, and after his recent success at the Giro di Sardegna, he will be a marked man this time around.

    The young Slovak told L’Équipe that he is taking part in the Race to the Sun “to prepare for all of the Classics,” but it is on the cobbles where he is expected to make the greater impact, at least this year.

    “People are going to say that I don’t have any experience in these races, but I’m going to go there to observe my rivals,” Sagan said. “Above all, I’m going to see how Boonen and Cancellara do it. And if I have an opportunity to attack, I’ll do it instinctively.”

    At just 21 years of age, Sagan is already beginning to assume the status of a leader at Liquigas-Cannondale. At the Giro di Sardegna, he had no less a figure than Vuelta a España champion Vincenzo Nibali leading him out, and he admitted that he has come a long way in just twelve months as a professional.

    “Before my first season as a pro, I didn’t even know if I was capable of winning a race,” Sagan said. “If I have new responsibilities [for 2011], it’s to win more races. Now, I know what I’m worth and how I can win.”

    While Sagan’s thoughts will be focused firmly on the Classics in the coming weeks, the youngster may also make his Grand Tour debut this season.

    “His lightning progression is making us reflect on his programme,” team manager Roberto Amadio told L’Équipe....

  • Bissell looks to animate Amgen Tour of California

    Bissel Pro Cycling are ready for 2011.
    Article published:
    March 05, 2011, 12:50 GMT
    By:
    Kirsten Frattini

    UCI Continental team targets NRC standings in 2011

    UCI Continental team Bissell Pro Cycling riders united at an opening training camp filled with sponsor visits, equipment hand outs, photo opportunities and several long days in the saddle from February 25 to March 2 in Santa Rosa, California. General Manager Glen Mitchell outlined two main season goals; to animate the upcoming Amgen Tour of California and to be the top ranked team in the country at the conclusion of the National Racing Calendar (NRC).

    “The NRC has always been an objective for us because we are structured around racing the domestic season,” Mitchell said. “We want to be seen at all of the top domestic races that we can and that includes the UCI races and the NRC races. We have a program to target as many of those races as we can. All things going good, it would be great to end the season with the best rider or best team. That is what we are here to do, to lift our game and aim to be the best team domestically.”

    The Bissell men are off to good start having swept the podium on the opening stage of the Merco Cycling Classic on Thursday, and they followed that up with victory on stage two. After the season opener, the team will head to San Dimas Stage Race and the NRC’s Redlands Bicycle Classic, Sunny King Criteirum, Tour of the Gila and Joe Martin Stage Race. According to Mitchell, the early season races are being used as a tool to prepare his team for the Tour of California, held from May 15-22.

    “We felt like we were very strong and represented ourselves great in last year’s Tour of California,” Mitchell said. “We want to...

  • Van Den Broeck looking forward to Paris-Nice time trial test

    blank
    Article published:
    March 05, 2011, 17:32 GMT
    By:
    Barry Ryan

    Belgian building up to July

    Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Omega Pharma-Lotto) is riding Paris-Nice with the aim of testing himself in Friday’s 27km time trial, but he believes that the course as whole is not mountainous enough for him to aspire to overall victory.

    “I refuse to put myself under pressure,” Van Den Broeck told Het Nieuwsblad. “That 27km time trial to Aix-en-Provence is a test for me. I haven’t been on my time trial bike too often this year, it’s always hassle bringing it to a training camp.”

    Van Den Broeck’s main objective for 2011 will be to improve on his fine 5th place finish from last year’s Tour de France and the Belgian acknowledged that in spite of its relative lack of climbing, Paris-Nice will offer an excellent simulation of some of the circumstances he may face in July.

    “In the first days of Paris-Nice, I will try to survive,” Van Den Broeck said. “With the wind, echelons can form at any moment. The nervousness of the first stages will be something comparable to the first week of the Tour.”

    However, Van Den Broeck is insistent that Paris-Nice will not be a full dress rehearsal for July, in spite of the plethora of Tour de France winners’ names that punctuate the roll of honour.

    “Granted there are a lot of big names of Grand Tour winners, for example Sean Kelly won it seven times,” Van Den Broeck said, before noting that a number of riders who do not aspire to Tour glory will be in contention at Paris-Nice.

    “Rider such as Peter Sagan or Sylvain Chavanel can win ‘The Race to the Sun,’” he said. “But in the big mountains, they...