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First Edition Cycling News, Saturday, November 14, 2009

Date published:
November 14, 2009, 0:00 GMT
  • Specialized to sponsor Astana?

    Could Contador be aboard a Specialized in 2010?
    Article published:
    November 13, 2009, 11:15 GMT
    Hedwig Kröner

    Specialized does not rule out the possibility of supporting three ProTour teams

    Specialized have not ruled out the possibility that they may supply bicycles to Astana next season. Responding to rumours that the American-based company is set to replace Trek as the Kazakh team's bike sponsor, a representative of Specialized today acknowledged that they could be in a position to support the team.

    "I can't say anything on that at the moment," said James Booth from Specialized Marketing UK to Cyclingnews when asked whether the rumours of their possible involvement with the Astana were true. This year, Specialized sponsored ProTour teams Quick Step and Saxo Bank, as well as pro continental team ISD. Booth explained that while Specialized was still under contract with the two ProTour squads for next season, its commitment with ISD comes to an end this year.

    "As of January 1, we won't have ISD anymore," he said. "So we have three top level teams at the moment, and if the opportunity comes up and it's the right team, it's entirely possible to sponsor three ProTour teams. There is no [budgetary] reason why it wouldn't be possible, it's just a question of the right teams."

    If Tour de France winner Alberto Contador does remain with Astana for one more year, the Kazakh team will remain a highly desirable front for brands to showcase their products. 

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  • Vuelta presses for second summit finish in Asturias

    The Asturia flag flies as the riders pass.
    Article published:
    November 13, 2009, 11:45 GMT
    Peter Cossins

    Vuelta a España organisers want second Asturian alpine finale in Grand Tour's final week

    The organisers of the 2010 Vuelta a España are looking to beef up the final week of next year’s race by pushing for a second summit finish in the northern province of Asturias.

    Javier Guillén, director-general of race organiser Unipublic, was in Asturias on Thursday to press the case for a second summit finish with local officials. Unipublic have already announced that Spain’s national tour will be returning to the renowned Lagos de Covadonga climb in Asturias.

    According to regional daily La Voz de Asturias, Guillén met with Misael Fernández Porrón, who is responsible for sporting issues in the province. Guillén is reported to have told Fernández that the Vuelta’s organising team would not only like to feature a second summit finish in Asturias, but also one new to the race. Three were apparently suggested: the 8 kilometre climb to the 1200m Coto Bello, the huge 28 kilometre ascent to the 1683m La Cubilla and the 20 kilometre climb up to the 1503m summit of the Somiedo.

    La Voz de Asturias reports that the proposal regarding the Coto Bello was almost certainly rejected. It also suggested that officials in Asturias would prefer to see the race head back to a summit it has already visited such as La Cobertoria or Pajares. They are also concerned about the cost of hosting two stages in the province, but acknowledge the boost that two key racing days would give to the region.

    If Guillén can reach agreement with Asturian officials for a second summit finish in the province, the Vuelta’s final week would be looking very tough indeed. With Lagos de Covadonga already confirmed and negotiations well under way to take the race to the new and lofty finish of Bola del Mundo, near Madrid, during the final weekend, a third summit finish in just a few days would be quite a test.

    Breaking with usual protocol, the Vuelta route is due to be...

  • Melchers-van Poppel considers her cycling future

    Mirjam Melchers-van Poppel (Team Flexpoint) will be the captain of the new uber-team
    Article published:
    November 13, 2009, 14:40 GMT
    Cycling News

    Dutchwoman says she will decide whether or not to continue by the end of the year

    Mirjam Melchers-van Poppel has confirmed that she will not participate in the 2009/2010 cyclo-cross season as she takes time to contemplate her future in cycling. The former Dutch cyclo-cross Champion (2005 and 2008) and bronze medal winner at the 2005 World cyclo-cross Championships is considering her options in the wake of the withdrawal of her trade team, Flexpoint, from the women's peloton.

    "I will decide by the end of the year whether or not I will continue racing on the road next season," she said. "Flexpoint has stopped after the 2009 road season and right now I don’t feel very motivated to search for a new team. On the other hand, I’m not quite ready to decide whether my career is over yet. When I say it’s over, it will really be over, so I’ve got to be certain of my decision."

    This week, Melchers, 34, returned to her bike for the first time since the end of the women's road season. A two-time winner of the women's Tour of Flanders (2005, 2006) and the overall victor of the Holland Ladies Tour (2004), she has struggled to re-find the same level of success since a crash in September 2006 left her with a broken pelvis, hip and jaw. She will use the next few weeks to assess her enthusiasm for a seventh year as a professional.

    "On my next few rides I need to discover whether the motivation for a new season is there. It’s ok if it isn't because I can look back at a lot of great results, but maybe I’ll decide to race next year. The moment I take that decision I will be able to contact teams, to see if anyone has got a spot for me next season."

    Melchers admitted that the absence of her husband, Jean-Paul van Poppel, had been a difficult situation to adjust to this year. After a decade coaching his wife, van Poppel joined the Cervélo TestTeam as a sports director at the start of 2009.

    "It’s great that he got this opportunity and I’ve always said he should do that....

  • Uncertain future for Contentpolis-AMPO team

    Adrian Palomares (Contentpolis-Ampo) was part of the team's Grand Tour debut at the Vuelta a España.
    Article published:
    November 13, 2009, 15:20 GMT
    Cycling News

    Team lacks money for UCI-required bank guarantees, but is considering signing Rasmussen

    The Spanish Professional Continental Team Contentpolis-Ampo is in danger for the 2010 season, because it is apparently unable to file the 1.2 million Euro bank guarantee required by the International Cycling Union (UCI). The team must make its complete UCI filing by Monday, November 15.

    The team has also indicated that if it can solve its financial problems, it would be interested in signing Michael Rasmussen.

    Contentpolis-Ampo remains confident, however, that its financial obligation to the UCI will be met. "There is no room for alarm, although there are deadlines for submission of documentation to the UCI that will be respected by us as much as possible," the team told Cyclingnews. "Contentpolis-Ampo maintains strong support from local government, as always. Ampo has also expressed its intention to continue. In times of economic crisis, it is harder than ever to achieve a full economic support, but that does not mean that it is lacking."

    The team had planned a change of name for the coming season, as Contentpolis will leave and be replaced by Murcia, the city council and community. Contentpolis is “ designed by the Government of the Region of Murcia (Spain) to propel the regional audio-visual sector’s growth and realisation,” and has sponsored the team for two years. Co-sponsor Ampo, a Basque metallurgy company, is willing to continue its sponsorship.

    According to the Spanish website, the city council will give the team about 100,000 Euros, while the community will provide less than the 200,000 Euros it gave last year. Antonio Penalver, head of sports for the Murcia Community, denied that the regional government no longer wanted to support the team. “The first year, the City Council and Community accounted for 80 percent of the budget. The plan for 2009 was to provide less and have the difference made up by private sponsors.”

    “The situation is...

  • Milram to race Tour of Oman in 2010

    Dominik Roels at the 2009 Tour of Qatar
    Article published:
    November 13, 2009, 15:56 GMT
    Richard Tyler

    ASO confirm Omani tour with team, Milram to send Classics roster to middle-east

    Milram has announced that the inaugural Tour of Oman will be part of their early season schedule in 2010. The German ProTour team today announced that they will start their 2010 season in Australia at the Tour Down Under Classic and Tour Down Under (January 17-24) before appearances at the Mallorca Challenge (February 7-11), the Tour of Qatar (February 7-12) and the Tour of Oman.

    Despite reports that the first edition of the Omani race would be postponed until 2011, Milram's Press Officer Max Biermann today confirmed to Cyclingnews that the event, scheduled for February 14-19, will go ahead.

    "We received an email today from Amaury Sports Organisation (ASO) which confirmed our participation in the Tours of Qatar and the Tour of Oman," said Biermann. "That confirms we will be racing there."

    Both races are organised in cooperation between ASO and Eddy Merckx's events company, Paumer. Although the route of the Tour of Oman is yet to be announced, Milram expect a hillier race than the pan-flat sprint fest of Qatar, and the team are likely to send a dramatically different roster to the middle-east next year.

    "We're planning to send our Classics roster to both Qatar and Oman, as preparation for their spring objectives," said Biermann.

    While it is too early for Milram confirm the roster likely for the two races, it is an indication that the team's recent Belgian signings, Roy Sentjens and Wim De Vocht, could be given an early-season opportunity to display their new kit.

    With restrictions placed on the number of ProTour teams that can make up the field at smaller races, Milram have been encouraged by the spate of early season invitations extended for 2010.

    "We're happy to be recognised by international race organizers," said Milram General Manager Gerry van Gerwen. "We are competing with the other ProTour teams in terms of participation in these attractive smaller races.

    "The number of...

  • Bertagnolli renews with Savio's Androni team

    Italy's Leonardo Bertagnolli wins Giro d'Italia stage to Faenza
    Article published:
    November 14, 2009, 10:38 GMT
    Gregor Brown

    Giro d'Italia stage winner signs for additional year

    Italy's Leonardo Bertagnolli renewed yesterday his contract to continue next season with Gianni Savio's Androni Giocattoli.

    "With Leonardo Bertagnolli, winner of Giro d'Italia's Faenza stage, we have confirmed all the riders that have helped us be in the top 17 teams of the world rankings," Savio said in a press release.

    Bertagnolli, 31, joined Savio's team May 6, prior to the Giro d'Italia. He won the 161-kilometre stage 15 to Faenza with a five-kilometre solo attack. He helped give the team three stage wins, adding to the two of Michele Scarponi.

    This summer, he won a stage at the Brixia Tour and finished third overall, second at the GP Camaiore and third at the Coppa Sabatini.

  • Bartoli previews Giro d'Italia's gravel roads

    Thomas Lövkvist (Columbia-HTC) races over the gravel roads in Monte Paschi Eroica, March 7
    Article published:
    November 14, 2009, 12:20 GMT
    Gregor Brown

    Classics champion rides Eroica roads in Siena, 'a pleasant surprise'

    Former one-day specialist Michele Bartoli previewed Thursday what will likely be one of the first decisive road stages of the 2010 Giro d'Italia, Montalcino. The stage, May 15, tends with three sectors on Siena's white gravel roads.

    "Whoever wants to win the Giro will have to keep their eyes open," Italy's Bartoli told La Gazzetta dello Sport.

    Organiser RCS Sport uses the same white, rolling gravel roads that are in its Monte Paschi Erocia one-day race. The Giro stage will include 19.7 of its 215 kilometres on gravel.

    "It's like turning back 50 years. It's a striking stage," Bartoli continued.

    The first sector (5.5km) starts with 27 kilometres to the finish. Five- and 9.2-kilometre sectors follow. The second sector in Bibbiano will be an ideal launch pad for the stage win and to gain time in the overall classification. Its gravel sector becomes harder due to a climb that reaches 17 percent gradient.

    "The entrance of the gravel sector is hard and it scared me a little bit. The road shot up more than I expected. You need a 25 gear behind, otherwise you can't go on."

    There are around 10 kilometres after sector three to the hilltop town of Montalcino, famous for its Brunello wine. The final difficulty will be 800 metres of cobblestones in the centre of town.

    The stage will play its part in the Giro d'Italia overall battle, which will be decided in the Dolomites and Alps. RCS Sport will take the riders up the Zoncolan, Plan de Corones, Mortirolo and Gavia climbs in the final week.

    The Monte Paschi Eroica races nearly 60 of its 190 kilometres on gravel roads and finishes in Siena's Piazza del Campo. Thomas Lövkvist (Columbia-HTC) won March 7, Fabian Cancellara won in 2008 and Alexandr Kolobnev won the first year, 2007.

  • Ivan Basso to return to the Tour de France?

    Ivan Basso (Liquigas) looks ahead to winning second Grand Tour
    Article published:
    November 14, 2009, 15:28 GMT
    Gregor Brown

    Italian adopts killer instinct in hunt for big win

    Italy's Ivan Basso will decide with team Liquigas in the next month if he will race the Giro d'Italia or Tour de France, or both.

    "When I saw the Tour route [presented] I said, 'very cool' to myself," Basso said to Cyclingnews. "The Tour is the Tour. I like it all: the pavé, climbs, descents. Like the Giro, when you love something, you love all parts of it."

    Basso won the Giro d'Italia in 2006 and placed second behind Lance Armstrong at the 2005 Tour de France, his last time at the race. After serving two-year doping suspension, he returned this year to finish fifth at the Giro and fourth at the Vuelta a España.

    "The Giro, Tour and Vuelta give me the strongest feelings. The Giro because I am Italian, I have already won it, and I want to win it again. The Tour because it has given me the biggest emotions, to finish behind Armstrong was like a victory in itself."

    During his vacation in The Maldives, he prepared a list of modifications he believes he needs to make to win another Grand Tour. He meets Tuesday with trainer Aldo Sassi and team Liquigas to look over the list and define his training programme.

    "It is useless to finish second or third, you have to make your actions count, to be a killer. Many times this year, I was attacking to understand my limits and where I could arrive. In my head, I now no longer need tests, I need wins," Basso said.

    "It would be different if I had arrived 50th at the Giro and 13th at the Vuelta. But when you are talking of one minute, then you are there, you can win."

    This 2010 Tour will start in Rotterdam, Netherlands, and ends in Paris, July 3 to 25. Its first mountains come in the Alps, Morzine and Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne. Four Pyrenean mountain stages will happen in the final week, with the Col du Tourmalet stage only four days before the finish. The final test will be a 51-kilometre time trial to Pauillac.

    Time trialling is one...