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First Edition Cycling News, Sunday, April 17, 2011

Date published:
April 17, 2011, 1:00 BST
  • Zirbel to race Tour of the Gila

    Tom Zirbel showed he had lost little of his time trialing prowess at the Tour de Gruene.
    Article published:
    April 16, 2011, 15:14 BST
    Kirsten Frattini

    American registers with Hotel San Jose/ACME

    Tom Zirbel has returned to US domestic racing, after serving a reduced suspension for an anti-doping infraction, and he is scheduled to compete at the National Racing Calendar (NRC) SRAM Tour of the Gila held from April 27 to May 1 in Silver City New Mexico. The time trial specialist will ride under the Hotel San Jose/ACME team, according to race promoter Jack Brennan.

    US Anti-doping Agency (USADA) gave Zirbel a two-year suspension after he tested positive for Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) at the US Pro Championships on August 29, 2009. He maintains that he did not knowingly ingest the banned substance. However, USADA reduced his suspension by six months, ending on March 21, 2011, for helping the agency in two separate anti-doping cases.

    Although Zirbel announced that he would retire from the sport, he competed in a non-USA Cycling sanctioned event at the Tour de Gruene held in Austin, Texas last November. He won the time trial and beat Lance Armstrong’s course record.

    He recently won the Louisville Criterium and placed fourth in the Mead-Roubaix Road Race, both held in Colorado. He also plans to contest the local Haystack Mountain Time Trials and the Air Force Road Race, prior to the SRAM Tour of the Gila.

    Zirbel won the SRAM Tour of the Gila stage three 25 kilometres time trial in 2008.



  • Fränk Schleck looking for a birthday present at the Amstel Gold Race

    Article published:
    April 16, 2011, 17:56 BST
    Stephen Farrand

    Leopard Trek rider knows he has to attack before the Cauberg

    Fränk Schleck was 30 on Friday and hopes to celebrate his birthday with a second victory at the Amstel Gold Race on Sunday.

    The Leopard Trek team is still looking for its first major victory but Schleck heads a powerful squad for the Amstel Gold Race that includes his brother Andy Schleck, Fabian Cancellara, Fabian Wegmann, Jakob Fuglsang, Jens Voigt and Maxime Monfort.

    Fränk rode aggressively at the recent Vuelta la Pais Vasco but lost two minutes in the final time trial to overall winner Andreas Klöden (RadioShack) and finished 16th overall. However he is confident he and the Leopard Trek team can get a result in the Ardennes.

    "We're motivated to do well in all three of the races that are coming up. The team is on form, it's virtually the same line-up as for Criterium International with the addition of Cancellara, and we really want to do well in these new colours," he told the Luxembourg-based Quotidien newspaper.

    Schleck won the Amstel Gold Race in 2006 but knows he has to avoid getting to the final climb of the Cauberg with faster finishing rivals such as Philippe Gilbert.

    "I know I can win and that's important for my confidence," he said. "Amstel is an elimination race. You can't be further back than 40th position in the peloton in the last 100km and the closer we get to the finish, it becomes harder and harder to hold a position at the front. The thing I like the most is the distance (250km) because I'm an endurance rider. The longer the race, the more I perform and the more motivated I become."

    "For me to win on Sunday I know it'll be better for me to attack before the Cauberg Philippe is the number one rival and is very, very strong. I think the Amstel Gold Race actual suits him better than...

  • Didier Rous guides Taaramäe to the Classics

    Rein Taaramae (Cofidis)
    Article published:
    April 16, 2011, 19:13 BST
    Pierre Carrey

    Cofidis DS thinks Estonian can match the Schlecks

    Just hearing the inflections in his voice, it’s obvious that Rein Taaramäe has seriously changed as a professional bike rider. For the first time since he turned pro in 2008, Cofidis’ young leader has told Cyclingnews that he’s truly motivated for the Ardennes classics and will race all of them for the first time.

    Now 24, Taaramäe was until now trained for stages races, and he took fourth in Paris-Nice and third in the Critérium International earlier this year. “But I would like to do a top 10 in the Ardennes”, he told Cyclingnews.

    He insists that he feels no-pressure before the classics, as he only decided last February to race them, dropping the Volta a Catalunya from his schedule, where he went third last year.

    However Taaramäe has very little experience in the Ardennes. He rode his sole Flèche Wallonne in 2009 and finished 115th because he wanted to save energy before the Tour of Romandy. Last year he took part in Liège-Bastogne-Liège but he pulled-out, exhausted after his team had been stuck in Turkey the days before due of the Icelandic volcano. He’s never competed in the Amstel Gold Race.

    Various sources, including Taaramäe himself, say his new ambitions mainly come from the arrival of directeur sportif Didier Rous to Cofidis in January. The Frenchman, second in the 1996 Flèche Wallonne behind Lance Armstrong, has urged Taaramäe to have more self-confidence.

    “Rein can win Liège one day and do a top 10 this year”, Rous told Cyclingnews.

    “He has got an extraordinary punch, that I honestly see equivalent to that one of Schleck’s brothers, without overrating him. He just needs to have more...

  • Garmin-Cervélo adds Van Lancker for Classics campaign

    Johan Van Summeren leads Garmin-Cervelo teammate Heinrich Haussler
    Article published:
    April 16, 2011, 19:41 BST
    Brecht Decaluwé

    Former winner of Amstel Gold Race and Liège-Bastogne-Liège joins Vaughters' team

    Former cyclist Eric Van Lancker (49) recently made his return to the cycling scene as director sportif for the Garmin-Cervélo team. The Belgian debuted in the Vuelta Ciclista al Pais Vasco, which is the classical build-up towards the Ardennes races. It allowed Van Lancker to get to know the riders who will contest the three hilly races in the Ardennes, with Ryder Hesjedal as team leader.

    “It's good to be back in the car. Up until 2007 I was active as a sports director, first with Lotto and then with the Navigators but when they stopped sponsoring I had to find another job. I've been working in the Flemish cycling school since then,” he told Cyclingnews.

    The arrival of Van Lancker comes a few months after the termination of Matthew White's contract at Garmin-Cervélo, and shortly after the spell of Peter Van Petegem as short-term advisor for the pavé-classics. Having a former winner in the team car might have helped as Johan Van Summeren's win in Paris-Roubaix showed. Van Lancker isn't considered a short-term advisor for the Ardennes classics nor is he taking the place from White. The team don't consider him as a replacement for White. After the Ardennes he'll be looking after the younger guys in the team.

    At the directors meeting in Maastricht the new Garmin-Cervélo director sportif said he has been asked to get back in the car for a while but wanted to keep his job at the Flemish cycling school. “It's been two months since they asked me for the first time. Just like Marc Wauters I'll be combining the work in the cycling school with the work as DS.” Van Lancker said.

    Now that Garmin-Cervélo has the Belgian in its ranks he'll be used to the...

  • Matthew White says door is open for Lloyd at national team

    Matthew Lloyd (Omega Pharma - Lotto) won a stage earlier in the Giro d'Italia.
    Article published:
    April 17, 2011, 2:02 BST
    Cycling News

    National Director looking to help how ever he can

    Matthew White has put his hand up to help, currently in crisis Australian cyclist Matthew Lloyd, in whatever way he can.

    Speaking to SBS television, White was supportive of Lloyd and said that the door was always open for the Australian.

    "When he wants to talk or when he wants to catch up I’m there for him as a friend and also in my role as professional road co-ordinator."

    "I think whatever has happened with Lloydy and Lotto that’s a matter (for them). It’s got nothing to do with Cycling Australia what’s happened between the two parties."

    Cycling Australia has been supportive of riders in the past including Allan Davis who was allowed to ride with the national team at the Tour Down under, after he too was left without a team – albeit in slightly different circumstances.

    White did however want to clear up the circumstances of Lloyd’s dismissal from Omega-Pharma Lotto, which has been shrouded by mystery. Neither party has released more than basic information regarding his termination.

    "Before I know how I can help I need to know what situation we’re [dealing] with, whether it is if he has been let off his contract, I want to see the facts,"

    "We’ll do whatever we can to help him because he’s one of Australia’s superstars and we all want what is best for Matt Lloyd."

    Lloyd’s season has been a mess so far with two separate incidents ruling him out of a significant part of the racing season. Things were beginning to come together however before the Giro which Lloyd had hoped to race. This...

  • McQuaid backs reform on suspensions

    Pat McQuaid was on hand in Wevelgem.
    Article published:
    April 17, 2011, 4:29 BST
    Cycling News

    Irishman watching CONI investigation closely

    In the wake of the ongoing investigation into as many as 14 Lampre-ISD riders, UCI president Pat McQuaid has come out in support of longer suspensions for doping offences.

    According to the AFP, McQuaid has been watching the developments in the Italian investigation 'very closely'. The Irishman has said he 'fully supports' the sentiments of Renato Di Rocco, the Italian cycling federation head, to extend the length of bans, particularly, he says, if they have been shown to have been involved in distribution and solicitation.

    "Personally, I have often said that that I support raising a suspension from two to four years in especially serious cases,” McQuaid said.

    “It’s part of the World Anti-Doping Code and if there is a difference in between the global code and the laws in different jurisdictions, we have the option of seeking the more severe penalty.”

    The UCI president was committed to ongoing reform and added that,

    “In Italy there has been a serious investigation and a great deal of reform - but there is still much to do.”

    WADA is actively considering reform on a number of their suspension terms as reported on CN, but as of yet their has been no changes,

    McQuaid's comments add to the saga that CN reported a few days ago regarding the investigation into Lampre-ISD team boss Giuseppe Saronni, with Roberto Damiani being lined up to take over from his compatriot.

  • Cancellara not under pressure at Amstel Gold Race

    Defending Paris-Roubaix champion Fabian Cancellara (Leopard Trek) recons key sections of the route.
    Article published:
    April 17, 2011, 7:40 BST
    Cycling News

    Leopard Trek rider promises not to ride against Gilbert

    Fabian Cancellara (Leopard Trek) will ride the Amstel Gold Race for the first time since 2004 but insisted in a personal column in Belgian newspaper Het Nieuwsblad he feels "As feel as free as a bird" and not under pressure to get a result.

    Cancellara is part of a powerful Leopard Trek team that is expected to be captained by Andy and Frank Schleck with key support from Jens Voigt, Fabian Wegmann, Jakob Fuglsang and Maxime Monfort.

    "It is 2004 since I was at the start," Cancellara said.

    "I'll be heading to Maastricht feeling very differently. The massive pressure that has been on my shoulders for weeks has gone. I feel reborn alongside the Schlecks."

    "After Roubaix I flicked a switch in my head. I wasn't even bothered about training for five and half hours at 11 degrees. I'm a happy Fabian."

    "On Saturday to refresh my mind I'll ride the last 40km of the route. Of course I know the Eyserbosweg, the Keutenberg and the Cauberg. But do I know them in the right order? Nope."

    Cancellara said Philippe Gilbert is the huge favourite for a second consecutive victory at the Amstel Gold Race and suggested he could be the 'Cancellara of the Ardennes' and be marked out of the race by his main rivals. However he promised not to race negatively against Gilbert to stop him winning.

    "I'm curious to see how Gilbert will deal with the pressure. After the Brabantse Pijl, he's become the Cancellara of the Ardennes. The way Gilbert won on Wednesday, reminded me of my victory in the E3," he said.

    "Like me in E3, he had fewer rivals in Overijse that he will face on Sunday. But he shouldn't be afraid of me riding on his wheel. That's not my style of racing. I actually wish him the best of luck."


  • On the start line: Amstel Gold Race

    The riders line-up for the start
    Article published:
    April 17, 2011, 12:19 BST
    Stephen Farrand

    A photo gallery from Maastricht

    The sun was shining as the riders gathered for the start of the Amstel Gold Race in the central Markt square in Maastricht, and with little wind blowing the many flags in the square, the riders knew they were about to begin yet another classics in near summer like conditions.

    The team buses were packed tight around the square. It makes for a chaotic start but allows the public to get close up the riders and ask for autographs and photographs.

    Each team was presented on the sign-on stage with Rabobank the last to appear, wearing their special Ride for the Roses' jersey in support of the Dutch event that takes its name from the Texas event promoted by the Livestrong charity.

    The 'home team' of the Amstel Gold Race has not won since 2001 and team leaders Robert Gesink, Oscar Freire and Luis Leon Sanchez are under pressure to get a result after the team had an impressive start to the season.

    The big favourite they have to beat is 2010 winner Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma-Lotto). He has been labelled the 'Cancellara of the Ardennes' because he is so strong and hi rivals could resort to marking hi out of the race as happened to Cancellara in the cobbled classics. However Gilbert looked relaxed and ready for anything as he signed on and chatted to Christian Vande Velde (Garmin-Cervelo) before the start.

    Garmin-Cervelo has a solid team with Ryder Hesjedal on form and supported by Christian Vande Velde, David Millar, Dan Lloyd, Michel Kreder and Paris-Roubaix winner Johan Van Summeren. The Katusha team is considered the most dangerous unit with Joaquim Rodriguez, 2009 winner Serguei Ivanov, Danilo Di Luca and Alexandr Kolobnev all capable of winning.

    Leopard Trek is also a danger and looking for to land its first major classic...