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First Edition Cycling News, Sunday, April 18, 2010

Date published:
April 18, 2010, 1:00 BST
  • Volcano Eyjafjallajökull rules Wiggins out of Amstel Gold Race

    Bradley Wiggins is one of Team Sky's big signings
    Article published:
    April 17, 2010, 12:22 BST
    Stephen Farrand

    Sky rider stuck in Spain, Italian-based riders begin to arrive in Maastricht

    Team Sky has confirmed that Bradley Wiggins will not ride Sunday's Amstel Gold Race after being stranded at his Spanish home in Girona because of the effect of Volcano Eyjafjallajökull on European air travel.

    Wiggins' teammate Chris Froome was also affected by the travel chaos and like many other Italian-based riders is currently driving to Maastricht.

    Fortunately for Team Sky, most of their riders have been in Maastricht since the middle of the week. The team rode the Brabantse Pijl race on Wednesday and Lars-Petter Nordhaug and Mathew Hayman joined the team on Friday to study the route of the Amstel Gold Race.

    Team Sky will be able to field the required minimum number of six riders but other teams are battling against traffic and time to make it Maastricht.

    Most of the Liquigas team squeezed into a minibus and then picked up HTC-Columbia riders Marco Pinotti and Michael Albasini along the route from Milan to Maastricht. They slept in Luxembourg on Friday night and arrived in Maastricht at lunchtime on Saturday. This afternoon they will go for a ride and stretch their legs after hours spent cramped in the minibus.

    World Champion Cadel Evans is also traveling by car from Southern Switzerland with teammate Steve Morabito and BMC Racing Team president Jim Ochowicz.

    The Lampre-Farnese Vini team had planned to catch a 6:30am train from Milan but opted to drive and left early in the morning to arrive in Maastricht mid-afternoon. Team leader Damiano Cunego is travelling in a faster and more comfortable team car, while the rest of the team is in a minibus.

    Carlos Sastre (Cervélo TestTeam) and Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne) were due to fly from Spain to Northern Europe today but with Swiss and Italian airports also closed, it seems unlikely they will make it to Maastricht.

    Bradley Wiggins revealed he wouldn't be able to ride the Amstel Gold Race in a twitter message on Saturday...

  • Sastre out of Amstel due to Volcano Eyjafjallajökull

    Carlos Sastre (Cervélo TestTeam)
    Article published:
    April 17, 2010, 13:18 BST
    Richard Tyler

    Gustov out too, Cervélo running light for first Ardennes Classic

    Carlos Sastre's light early-season race programme has been further reduced after the Spaniard confirmed that he will miss Amstel Gold Race as a result of the effects of Volcano Eyjafjallajökull on European air travel. Sastre's Cervélo teammate Volodimir Gustov will miss the race after his flight was also cancelled.

    For Sastre, the Dutch Classic would have been just the second race of his 2010 season, following his debut at the Tour of Catalunya last month.

    "I had a flight yesterday afternoon from Barajas, but it was suspended," said Sastre on Saturday afternoon. "The travel agency that works with the team has tried every means to find a flight this morning but hasn't been possible – they're all cancelled."

    Cervélo will confirm their final line-up for Amstel on Saturday afternoon, though Sastre's compatriot Xavier Tondo will make it to Maastricht in time for the race.

    "We had most of our riders already in The Netherlands as they arrived before the Brabantse Pijl that took place last Wednesday" said Cervélo General Manager Joop Alberda.

    "The flights yesterday for Sastre, Gustov and Xavier Tondo were cancelled. For Tondo we found a solution to come by car and for Sastre and Gustov, we were depending on the airports opening today but we just received word that all the major airports around Maastricht will be closed until 8 p.m. tonight."

    The announcement of Sastre's withdrawal follows confirmation from Team Sky on Saturday morning that Spain-based Bradley Wiggins would also miss the first of the Ardennes Classics. Sastre will instead train at home on Sunday in the hope that European air services return to normal in time for him to participate in Flèche Wallonne on Wednesday.

    "I have the flight to Brussels on Tuesday and there are expected to be no problems," said Sastre. "In the morning, strong training will compensate me not being able to race at Amstel."

  • Valverde, Sanchez miss Amstel Gold due to Volcano Eyjafjallajökull

    Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne)
    Article published:
    April 17, 2010, 15:34 BST
    Cycling News

    Caisse d'Epargne will only start with three riders on Sunday

    Alejandro Valverde and Luis Leon Sanchez will not take part in Amstel Gold Race, with the Spanish pair unable to travel to the Netherlands due to the extensive closure of European airspace. The International Cycling Union (UCI) has given Caisse d'Epargne special permission to start Sunday's race with just three riders.

    Valverde had been a favourite for the event, in which he finished third in 2008.

    Valverde and Sanchez were left stranded at their homes in Spain due to the widespread cancellation of flights across Europe following the eruption of Icelandic volcano Eyjafjallajökull on Wednesday. Their withdrawal follows those of Carlos Sastre (Cervélo TestTeam) and Bradley Wiggins (Team Sky) on Saturday morning, both of whom live in Spain.

    HTC-Columbia's Craig Lewis (Barcelona) and Vincente Reynes (Mallorca) joined the growing list of Spanish-based riders unable to travel to the Netherlands in time to make the start of Amstel.

    Several other members of Caisse d'Epargne's roster for Amstel were also unable to make the journey and the Spanish squad will start on Sunday with just three riders: Jose Vincente Garcia Acosta, Imanol Erviti and David Lopez. They will be the smallest team in the field.

    The International Cycling Union (UCI) has given the team special dispensation to start with three riders, two less than the minimum number of five starters required under official regulations. UCI official Gianluca Crocetti told Cyclingnews that the temporary regulation waiver had been made due to the, "exceptional circumstances".

    The final team line-ups for Amstel Gold Race will be confirmed at 5:30p.m. CET, after a team directors meeting in Maastricht, Netherlands.

    It has also been reported that television helicopters may not be allowed to fly due to the restrictions on aviation currently in place. If unable to fly, there will be no live video images of the race available.

    Stay tuned to...

  • Volcano blows big hole in final start list for Amstel Gold

    Team directors of the 24 teams for Amstel Gold Race meet on Saturday
    Article published:
    April 17, 2010, 17:59 BST
    Cycling News

    Teams meet in Maastricht, eight to start Dutch Classic short

    The management of the 24 teams entered in Amstel Gold Race met in Maastricht on Saturday afternoon to submit their final rosters and discuss the fallout from European travel restrictions that will see eight teams start without their full compliment of riders.

    178 of the originally 192 riders are expected to sign-on in Maastricht on Sunday morning.

    Spanish squad Caisse d'Epargne have been the worst affected by the extensive closure of European airspace that has followed the eruption of the Eyjafjallajökull volcano on Wednesday. They have been granted special permission by the International Cycling Union (UCI) to start Amstel with only three riders.

    Under UCI regulations, teams would ordinarily be required to start Sunday's race with no fewer than five riders.

    Cervélo TestTeam will start with five riders, HTC-Columbia with six, while RadioShack, Francaise Des Jeux, Euskaltel-Euskadi, AG2R-La Mondiale and Team Sky will all begin the race one rider short.

    The widespread disruption to air travel has seen a significant number of riders endure long ground-based journeys to the Netherlands. RadioShack's Chris Horner told Cyclingnews on Saturday afternoon that he and teammate Thomas Vaitkus had driven 17 hours through Friday night to complete the 1800 kilometres from Spain.

    View the start list for the 2010 Amstel Gold Race.

  • Carlström primed to support Gerrans at Amstel, Liège

    Kjell Carlström (Sky Professional Cycling Team) drives the peloton
    Article published:
    April 17, 2010, 19:21 BST
    Richard Tyler

    Finn hoping for a change of fortune at the Ardennes Classics

    Kjell Carlström will head to Amstel Gold Race as one of Sky's road captains and while the Finnish national Champion has endured a tough start to his season, he is confident he can help Simon Gerrans to a good result on Sunday.

    Carlström's debut season with Sky has been beset by disruptions with crashes and illness preventing him reaching a peak in his early season programme. He is hopeful the next week of racing will provide a change in fortune.

    "In my first race, at the Tour of Andalucia, I got ill, at Paris-Nice I crashed, and then at the Tour of the Basque Country I was suffering with allergies. It is time to turn all that around at the Ardennes," said Carlström on the Team Sky website.

    Carlström predicted a pair of big weekends for his teammate, Simon Gerrans, who will act as Sky's protected rider over the seven days. The two have ridden identical race programmes throughout their first season together.

    "I was with Simon at the Basque Country and I know he can do well in each of the next three races, even if they are all tough," said Carlström. "I think that Amstel or Liège will suit him the best, but he has to be on a really good day and everything has to be working perfectly."

    The Finn is scheduled to compete for Sky in all three Ardennes Classics – Amstel Gold Race, Flèche Wallonne and Liège-Bastogne-Liège. His participation at Amstel on Sunday will be the fifth of his nine-year professional career.

    "I have done Amstel quite a few times and I raced the Valkenburg at the World Championships in 1998, so the route is very familiar for me. Sure, it has been a while, but I still remember," said the 33-year old.

    Almost all of Sky's line-up for the race have already assembled in Maastricht. Bradley Wiggins' scheduled participation at Amstel was cancelled on Saturday due to the ongoing disruption to European air travel caused by Volcano...

  • Amstel broadcast to go on as scheduled

    Helicopters are a fixture of bike races, providing overhead camera shots and often relaying signals from ground cameras for broadcast.
    Article published:
    April 17, 2010, 20:29 BST
    Cycling News

    Helicopters allowed to fly despite ash cloud from Icelandic volcano

    Fears that the Amstel Gold Race would be impacted by the ash cloud covering Europe as a result of an erupting Icelandic volcano have proven to be unfounded as the race organisation has received special permission to allow helicopters to follow the race.

    The race organiser Leo van Vliet appealed to the Dutch transportation minister Camiel Eurlings to allow the helicopters to fly so that the signal from television cameras following the race on the ground could be relayed.

    Ash from the volcano Eyjafjallajökull has grounded jets throughout the UK and Europe as bits of debris pose a danger to jet engines. There had been speculation that the helicopters would also be prevented from flying.

    Van Vliet received word Saturday afternoon that the helicopters would be allowed, a spokesman from the organisation confirmed to

  • Deignan aiming for solid performances in Ardennes Classics

    Philip Deignan (Cervélo TestTeam) celebrates his Vuelta stage win
    Article published:
    April 17, 2010, 21:36 BST
    Shane Stokes

    Likely to help teammates in Amstel Gold, but Liège suits him best

    Irish pro Philip Deignan will begin the first of the Ardennes Classics tomorrow knowing that he has a chance to show the Cervélo Test Team that he is coming into good shape. The Letterkenny rider had a difficult start to the year due to illness and injury, but tenth and twelfth on stages of the recent Circuit de la Sarthe was a good sign.

    “I rode la Sarthe last week and I started feeling a little bit better,” he told Cyclingnews. “Then I did Flèche Brabançonne on Wednesday – it was a pretty hard race, but I feel like I am getting better every few days. So I am looking forward to Amstel, Flèche and Liege.”

    Deignan said that Xavier Florencio and Xavier Tondo are probably the riders most likely to do well, but that there was no clear leader. “We don’t have really, really top favourites,” he said, suggesting that there could be scope for personal ambition of someone else feels good. “We have a couple of different cards to play, so we will just play it by ear in the race and see how it works out. We’ll see who has the legs in the last 50 kilometres.”

    The 26-year-old took his best career result last September when he won a stage and finished ninth overall in the Vuelta a España. The 2009 season in general was a strong one for him, confirming his ability after a few frustrating years. Moving to Cervélo helped him find his focus once again and his Vuelta ride showed that he could have a big future ahead.

    That big autumn contrasted with a quiet spring; a knee injury over the winter meant that he went to the team training camp with very few kilometres in his legs, and then things continued to be more complicated than he would have liked.

    “I got pretty badly sick just before the start of Catalunya. I had gone to Grand Canaria for eight days after Murcia and trained really hard there,” he explained....

  • On the start line at Amstel Gold Race

    Andy and Frank Schleck roll out together
    Article published:
    April 18, 2010, 11:45 BST
    Daniel Simms

    Some big names missing, but the Dutch Classic gets underway in Maastricht

    The riders gathered under a warm sun in the centre of Maastricht for the start of the 45th edition of the Amstel Gold Race in the southern Limburg region of the Netherlands.

    Some of the riders had already faced a race against time and across Europe to be at the start, but most of them made it and were happy to be racing. Chris Horner (RadioShack) seemed to have travelled the furthest, a massive 1800km from Spain, so he could have a shot at victory. Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas-Doimo) and Chris Froome (Team Sky) both drove from Tuscany and Canada's Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Transitions) and Xavier Tondo (Cervélo TestTeam) traveled from Girona.

    There were some big names who did not make it to the race. The Caisse d'Epargne team only had three riders to start the race: Imanol Erviti, Jose Garcia Acosta and David Lopez. Team leader Alejandro Valverde and UCI ranking leader Luis Leon Sanchez are not in the race after they made the decision not to drive from Spain.

    Also missing are Carlos Sastre (Cervélo TestTeam), Bradley Wiggins (Team Sky). Cervélo TestTeam started with just five riders, HTC-Columbia only had six riders and Ag2r-La Mondiale had seven. Every other team had eight riders.

    In the main square in Maastricht the riders climbed onto the podium team by team. The crowds were huge and the Rabobank team of Robert Gesink and Oscar Freire were greeted with the biggest cheer. A Dutchman has not won the Amstel Gold Race since 2001. Could Gesink do it today?

    Fränk Schleck (Saxo Bank) became a father just a few days before and is wearing his daughter's birth tag on his chain. Watch out for special celebrations if he wins today, although he was involved in an early crash.

    Cadel Evans (BMC Racing Team) is riding in support of teammate and Dutchman Karsten Kroon, but could also be a contender. Most teams suggested it was up to Katusha to control the race because the Russian team has a powerful line-up...