Australian's 2015 Tinkoff-Saxo team bike
Winner of the 2015 Tour Down Under
New and old kicks and lids seen at WorldTour race
Wiggle Honda team bike of two-time World Champion
“El Búfalo” puts himself out to pasture
José Enrique Gutiérrez has announced that he is retiring from competition following the failure of his Rock Racing team to obtain a racing licence from the UCI. Now 35, the powerful Spaniard, nicknamed “El Búfalo”, is best known for taking second place behind Ivan Basso in the 2006 Giro d’Italia.
Following that result, Gutiérrez’s name surfaced in the Puerto investigation and he was put on the non-active list by Phonak, with whom he spent three seasons. No action was taken against Gutiérrez, who then spent two years with the Italian LPR team before switching to Rock Racing last season.
“After 12 years as a professional and after being dedicated to cycling since I was 12 the moment for my retirement has arrived,” Gutiérrez said in a statement. “At this point in the season it would be very hard to find a team that could offer me the minimum financial conditions and a good enough calendar of racing for me to keep training at the level needed to be a professional. So I have decided to draw my sporting career to an end.”
Winner of a stage at the Vuelta and two stages at the Dauphiné Libéré, Gutiérrez added: “Cycling has been everything to me and all I have achieved up to now I owe to cycling. In addition, I’ve had the chance to see a lot of the world and meet all kinds of people, and I will have some great memories and friends that will be with me forever.”
Gutiérrez indicated he will be considering new projects within the cycling and sporting worlds.
Aqua & Sapone to confirm Tirreno selection after Tuscan dirt road race
Aqua & Sapone's Stefano Garzelli will support the ambitions of teammate Luca Paolini at Saturday's Montepaschi Strade Bianche race before turning his attention to next week's Tirreno-Adriatico.
Paolini will be one of the favourites for the Tuscan dirt road race after a strong start to the season that has included sixth place finishes at Italian events, Trofeo Laigueglia and Giro del Friuli, as well as fourth at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad last weekend.
"We have a team that can definitely do well in this race. Paolini is in good condition so it is right that the team is built around him," said Aqua & Sapone Sports Director Bruno Cenghialta.
Aqua & Sapone will also use the one-day event as a test for riders vying for a place on the team's final selection for Tirreno-Adriatico. Garzelli finished second behind Michele Scarponi (Serramenti PVC Diquigiovanni - Androni Giocattoli) at the 2009 edition of the race and will once again lead the squad in the six-stage race.
"From Montepaschi we'll select the last two members of the team that will ride Tirreno, so for us it will be an important assessment of the riders' form," said Cenghialta.
Aqua & Sapone for Montepaschi Strade Bianche (March 6): Luca Paolini, Stefano Garzelli, Dario Andriotto, Paolo Ciavatta, Massimo Codol, Alessandro Donati, Francesco Failli and Andrea Masciarelli.
Quick Step leader to seize all opportunities
Sylvain Chavanel, one of the pre-race favourites for the upcoming Paris-Nice, is fully focussed on what he describes as "the first big event of the year". A designated goal since he placed on the podium on the Promenade des Anglais in Nice last year, the Quick Step rider is determined not to let any opportunities slip by him in his quest for "at least one stage victory and a top overall result".
"I've worked hard, I feel good so I think I'm ready," the Frenchman told Cyclingnews on Friday after training.
"This Paris-Nice will again be decided within seconds. If you look at the parcours, the finish in [stage five to] Mende is short but steep, and it will not create big gaps. Paris-Nice has always been a race that held its surprises. One should never give up until the end - that's what I like about this event," said Chavanel.
Against prominent rivals, including Astana's Alberto Contador (who has also marked the overall victory in Paris-Nice as his first major objective), Saxo Bank's Fränk Schleck (second-placed last year), and Caisse d'Epargne leaders Alejandro Valverde and Luis Léon Sánchez (2009 race winner), Chavanel knows that the race for victory will be a hard-fought battle.
A win on the stage to stage five to Mende, facing rivals such as Contador, is "practically impossible," continued Chavanel. "It's not that I lack ambition, but it's just highly unlikely. What I need to do is use my opportunities on the stages before that one - and maybe the ones after it. Why not? Last year, there was an escape because of a wind echelon. Like I said, it's a race that has certain traps..."
But if the race unfolds without incidents - and the weather forecast predicts good conditions throughout next week in France - the Quick Step leader is realistic about his chances. "Against Contador, the overall victory is nearly...
'Free Luca' t-shirts help bring Damiani stateside
The men of Kenda Pro Cycling presented by Geargrinder met their new directeur sportif Frankie Andreu at an opening 10-day training camp held in Macon, Georgia, this week. Andreu brings years of racing experience to the young team and has a vested interest in watching it continue to grow in the years to come.
"It's fun going riding with the guys, making out a calendar and figuring out the rider's goals," Andreu told Cyclingnews. "If the program continues to grow which is something that Chad [Thompson] and I both want to happen, then it's something that I will continue to have a lot of interest in. It's a matter of bringing in more sponsors to increase the budget, get more riders and become a more powerful team."
"You want to be able to win races, but I want to get to the point where we can dominate races," he added. "It makes it more fun. The problem is all the other directeurs and managers, we all have the same goal."
Andreu retired from pro bike racing in 2000 after competing in the Tour de France nine times. He raced under the banner of esteemed teams like 7-Eleven, Motorola, Cofidis and US Postal Service. In the more recent past, he has directed US-based teams Toyota-United, ZTeaM and Proman-Hitsquad. Now, he has committed his attention to the fast-growing Kenda Pro Cycling Team.
"I was familiar with Kenda and knew that they wanted to expand," Andreu said. "I was not specifically looking for a team to work with. The timing was right for Chad, he had a good group of guys, everything was clicking, falling into place and it looked like we could really grow this program."
Kenda Pro Cycling has taken on several name changes since its inception in 2005 as the Honey Stinger-Spinergy team. The team is owned by Chad Thompson and managed through Inferno Racing. This year, it will embark on a second season as a UCI-Continental outfit and thus considered relatively young with in the US professional peloton.
Marc Biver, Kim Andersen could manage the new team
Fränk and Andy Schleck are reported to be considering creating their own team for the 2011 season, when their contracts with Team Saxo Bank end. Former Astana manager Marc Biver and Saxo Bank Directeur Sportif Kim Andersen are said to be set to join the team, according to Gazzetta dello Sport in Italy.
However Fränk Schleck seemed surprised by the story. “Oh yeah? Not that I knew,” he told the Luxembourg newspaper Tageblatt. “We have been asked by many teams. But our goal is to win the Tour de France this year. That is what we are concentrating on.”
According to Gazzetta, Marc Biver would be the team manager. He was team manager at Astana in 2006-2007. Andersen, who lives in Luxembourg, is currently directeur sportif at Saxo Bank and reportedly would assume that same role at the Schleck's team, according to the Italian newspaper.
In addition, the brothers are said to be interested in signing World time trial champion Fabian Cancellara. His contract with Saxo Bank runs through 2011, so that he would not necessarily be available for the coming season.
Saxo Bank's sponsorship with Bjarne Riis's team expires the end of this year and will not be renewed. The team management is looking for a new sponsor, but the possibility exists that the team may not exist in 2011.
“I don't know anything about this,” Biver told the Tageblatt, but admitted that he had been approached about a new team. “There were informal discussions the end of last year, start of this year,” but “not with the Schleck brothers.” As to the Gazzetta story, Biver said, there is “nothing concrete. I can't confirm it.”
ASO holds technical organisation meetings for teams
As teams gather for the first major French race of the season, Paris-Nice starting on Sunday, race organisers Amaury Sport Organization (ASO) held a key technical meeting and revealed that the team for this year's Tour de France will be announced at the end of March.
“We have a total of 25 nominated teams,” said Jean-François Pescheux, the technical director of the Tour, according to the AFP news agency.
Just who from those 25 teams will secure one of the expected 22 places at the Tour is still unclear.
16 teams are assured a place under an agreement from 2008. However it remains to be seen if ASO will respect that agreement following sponsor and ProTour status changes. The 16 teams are: AG2R La Mondiale, Astana, Bbox Bouygues Telecom, Caisse d'Epargne, Cofidis, HTC-Columbia, Euskaltel, Francaise des Jeux, Footon-Servetto, Lampre, Liquigas-Doimo, Milram, Quick Step, Rabobank, Saxo Bank, Omega Pharma-Lotto.
Garmin-Transitions, Katusha and Cervelo Test Team are not covered by the agreement but all three teams will surely be invited back to the Tour in 2010. However the creation of Lance Armstrong's RadioShack team and Team Sky has made competition for places in the Tour de France very intense.
If all these teams were invited, as is widely expected, that would leave only one other wild card place. That could go to new French team Saur-Sojasun but with the Tour de France starting in Rotterdam in the Netherlands, the Vacansoleil team must also have a great chance, as does Skil-Shimano, who took part in the 2009 Tour de France.
Tour cobbles signposted in April
Pescheux also revealed that the final cobbled sections of stage three of the Tour de France from Wanze to Arenberg, will be signposted so that teams and fans can check out what could be a very important early stage in this year's Tour. The stage will finish at the entrance to the Forest of Arenberg section of cobbles used...
French anti-doping agency will pass doping information to local law authorities
The French anti-doping agency AFLD will not cooperate with the International Cycling Union at next week's Paris-Nice and will turn over any doping-related information it might have to local judicial authorities, instead of the UCI.
In a statement issued on Friday, the AFLD critcised the UCI for refusing to work with the French agency. “The AFLD questions the motivation of the UCI to control the Paris-Nice race which takes place in the heart of France and mobilises large public resources,” it said.
The UCI has always claimed that it is responsible for doping controls at Paris-Nice because it is an international race.
The AFLD said it could give information about possible doping suspects to local authorities, who under French law, could ask police to raid team hotels or cars. In addition, the AFLD said that it would ask the World Anti-Doping Agency “to initiate an in-depth discussion on the difference of approach in the fight against doping between national and some international federations.”
Garmin-Transitions rider looks ahead to Catalunya and Ardennes
Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Transitions) was the fourth man as the leaders tackled the final, steep and narrow climb that, in the end, proved decisive at the end of Saturday’s Montepaschi Strade Bianche.
When Thomas Löfkvist (Team Sky), the defending champion, accelerated at the bottom, Michael Rogers (HTC-Columbia) and Maxim Iglinskiy (Astana) were quickly on to the Swede’s back wheel. Hesjedal reacted too, but, as he later admitted, he didn’t have the legs to stay with them as the gradient steepened to 16 percent, and Löfkvist continued applying the pressure.
With the top of the climb just 500 metres from the finish, the Canadian had no chance of regaining the leading trio, and he was caught and passed by Filippo Pozzato (Katusha) as they negotiated the bumpy, uneven streets around the back of the Piazza del Campo. But he was happy with fifth, he said, as he looks ahead to a diet of stage races, followed by one of his big targets of his season: the Ardennes Classics.
“I didn’t really feel that great, and I had to dig deep all day,” said Hesjedal at the finish. “I really like this race, and I wanted to do a good ride, but I was cramping a lot at the end. To be honest, I was bluffing a bit as I was coming in with these guys. In the end, I couldn’t go with the top guys.
“It was a hard day,” Hesjedal continued. “But you saw there were a lot of good guys in that front group [which also contained Fabian Cancellara (Saxo Bank) and Juan Antonio Flecha (Team Sky). To get fifth with the field that’s here, I’m pretty pleased with where I’m at."
Looking ahead, the Garmin-Transitions rider said that Tirreno-Adriatico, which gets underway in nearby Livorno on Wednesday, is, “a pretty big goal, then I’ve got the Tour of Catalunya, Pays-Basque, and then I want to show well in Fleche-Wallonne and Liege-Bastogne-Liege. That’s my plan...