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First Edition Cycling News, Sunday, December 11, 2011

Date published:
December 11, 2011, 0:00 GMT
  • Gallery: GreenEdge goes for laid-back team presentation in Melbourne

    The team outside Melbourne's Town Hall.
    Article published:
    December 10, 2011, 8:53 GMT
    Jane Aubrey

    Riders set to lend their voices to official team song

    On the busiest street for cycling traffic in Australia, the 30 riders of GreenEdge were presented to the public and the media in their spiritual home of Melbourne on Saturday – the only official media event from the two-week training camp which is due to wrap up on Monday.

    Out the front of the Melbourne Town Hall on Swanston Street in the CBD, the first Australian team in the WorldTour were dressed in casual shirts and jeans and did their best to look fresh-faced after a night with financial backer Gerry Ryan, owner of 2010 Melbourne Cup winner Americain, at the Mooney Valley races. Meantime, City of Melbourne Lord Mayor Robert Doyle welcomed the group.

    After just over a week in the nation's capital, Canberra, undergoing physical and medical testing at the Australian Institute of Sport, the festivities of recent days had included a training session with Melbourne Storm rugby league team, along with the odd round of golf and go-karting.

    The affair was very relaxed, with curious and not-so-curious onlookers passing by on the footpath their minds seemingly more on the task of their Christmas shopping, while the constant hum of the trams provided a constant reminder of the location.

    Along with the riders, key staff members including Neil Stephens and Matt White were also in attendance, with an official announcement regarding their roles with GreenEdge expected in coming weeks.

    Perhaps a little hurried, time was at a premium with the GreenEdge team's next appointment at the home of Australian music industry identity, Molly Meldrum, where curiously a team song was to be recorded. Still under wraps, the song is believed to be a re-working of a Tom Petty tune. On the penultimate day of the first official team camp, GreenEdge was indeed in wind-down mode with team bonding being the prime focus.


  • Voeckler and Europcar struggling for early season invitations

    Thomas Voeckler with the new Carbon Pro Team
    Article published:
    December 10, 2011, 10:20 GMT
    Cycling News

    Frenchman likely to begin season on home roads

    Thomas Voeckler is likely to begin his 2012 season in France as his Europcar squad in struggling to gain invitations to the many early season races in warmer climes. In spite of Europcar’s stellar performance at the Tour de France, the team faces being sidelined by many organisers in February.

    Europcar recently failed in its bid to secure WorldTour status for next season. While Voeckler and his teammates are all but guaranteed a wildcard invitation to the Tour, planning the approach to July might not be as straightforward.

    “In the team, we have a small worry for the month of February, we don’t have many invitations,” Voeckler told L’Équipe. “We won’t be in Qatar or Oman. For Mallorca, we haven’t had a response. It’s complicated but that’s the way it is for second division teams.”

    A complicating factor for Voeckler is that the dates of two other one-time potential debut races have been shifted later into the season. “I’ve already done the Tour de Langkawi three times, but the race has been moved to the end of February and Gabon is in April now,” he said.

    “The start of my season risks being in France, at the Étoile de Bessèges, Grand Prix La Marseillaise or the Tour of the Mediterranean, if it takes place.”

    Voeckler got his stunning 2011 campaign off the mark with a stage victory at the Tour of the Mediterranean, and he would go on to win six more races during a fine opening half to the season. He carried that form into the Tour de France, where he finished fourth overall after ten days in the yellow jersey.

    The Frenchman is back in training for next year, although...

  • Beyer and Competitive Cyclist look ahead to 2012

    Chad Beyer (BMC Racing Team) and Marc De Maar (United Healthcare)
    Article published:
    December 10, 2011, 12:04 GMT
    Neil Browne

    Rising ambitions for Gord Fraser and his team

    Chad Beyer is looking forward to a fresh start at the Competitive Cyclist Racing Team after joining the squad from BMC during the off-season. The American is one of a number of signings for the US-based UCI Continental team made by team manager Gord Fraser, with Max Jenkins also joining the squad, and Francisco Mancebo, Tommy Nankervis and Thomas Rabou all re-signing with the team, which was known as last season.

    The change in name came about as – parent company of – purchased Competitive Cyclist, a high-end on-line retailer. As a result of the buy-out, the team is switching names for 2012 and will compete under the title sponsor Competitive Cyclist Racing Team.

    For the past three seasons, Beyer has been part of the BMC pro team, racing in European stage races such as the Volta a Catalunya and completing his first Grand Tour, the Giro d’ Italia. The 25-year-old also lined up at the USA Pro Cycling Challenge in Colorado. However, when the squad contains the 2011 Tour de France winner Cadel Evans and classic stars like George Hincapie and Alessandro Ballan there are not many opportunities for a rider who describes himself as, “the bottom man on the totem pole.”

    “Coming to Competitive Cyclist is a change for me as I don’t have teammates that have won the Tour de France, but we have Mancebo who’s really strong and a team that is really good on a domestic level,” says Beyer. “I think we’re going to do really well.”

    The Arizona native has now had to alter not only his training but also his goals.

    “I’m no longer going to be riding at the front all day. I’ll have opportunities to...

  • No Italian team for Tour de San Luis

    National coach Paolo Bettini says hello
    Article published:
    December 10, 2011, 12:50 GMT
    Cycling News

    Bettini disappointed by lack of enthusiasm

    Paolo Bettini has opted against bringing an Italian national selection to the Tour de San Luis in January after the idea failed to garner sufficient interest among teams and riders. The 23-team line-up for the race in Argentina was announced on Saturday, with Alberto Contador, Vincenzo Nibali and Tom Boonen all set to compete.

    Bettini has been a proponent of bringing Italian teams to races outside of the world championships since he took over the role of national manager in 2010 and made his debut at that year’s Giro del Veneto. He aimed to select number of young Italian track riders for the trip to Argentina, but soon realised that the interest was not there.

    “I’d requested the availability of some young riders, who are almost all involved in the Italian track set-up,” Bettini told Tuttobici. “It seemed fair to offer them this possibility, in the name of interdisciplinarity, which is one of the federation’s main objectives. Unfortunately, the response wasn’t on a par with my enthusiasm. Not everybody realised the importance of the project and so I preferred to give up on it.

    “Essentially, I wasn’t comfortable going to Argentina with people who didn’t believe in this trip, so I stopped it. But I’ll take some important lessons from this.”

    Meanwhile, the organisers of the Tour de San Luis have announced the 23 squads who will be at the race, which takes place from January 23-29. Ag2r-La Mondiale, Liquigas-Cannondale, Movistar, Omega Pharma-Quick Step and Saxo Bank are the WorldTour teams making the trip to South America.

    Teams for Tour de San...

  • Gilbert to begin 2012 campaign in Qatar

    Philippe Gilbert on the velodrome
    Article published:
    December 10, 2011, 13:58 GMT
    Cycling News

    Tour du Haut-Var first race in Europe for Belgian champion

    Currently at his first training camp with the BMC team in Denia, Spain, Philippe Gilbert has begun sketching out the early part of his 2012 season. He will begin his campaign at the Tour of Qatar in February, before making his European debut as a BMC rider at the Tour du Haut-Var.

    Gilbert missed last year’s Tour of Qatar as his Omega Pharma-Lotto team was not invited to the race, but the Belgian champion will be on hand in Doha from February 5-10. Rather than move on to the Tour of Oman, however, Gilbert will return from the Arabian Peninsula to race the two-day Tour du Haut-Var on the weekend of February 18-19.

    “For him, that is the best preparation for the Flemish opening weekend,” BMC manager John Lelangue told Het Laatste Nieuws.

    While Gilbert is certain to line up at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad on February 27, he will delay making a decision on whether to take part in the following day’s Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne.

    “He’s sure to ride Omloop, but we’ll only decide about Kuurne after the race on the Saturday,” Lelangue said.

    As was the case in 2011, March sees Gilbert head to Italy to fine-tune his preparation for Milan-San Remo. He will defend his Strade Bianche crown in Siena on March 3, before heading to Tirreno-Adriatico, the traditional build-up race to La Classicissima.

  • Changes for Mt. Hood Cycling Classic in 2012

    Spectacular views from the time trial course at Mount Hood Cycling Classic
    Article published:
    December 10, 2011, 16:08 GMT
    Pat Malach

    Race to take place from June 8-10

    After two successive years of having to remove late-spring snow from some of the highest points on the route of Oregon's Mt. Hood Cycling Classic, promoters have moved the event back one week on the US race calendar. Breakaway Promotions' Chad Sperry said on Friday that the 10th edition of the race will take place from June 8-10 in Hood River.

    “All the long-term weather predictions say that we're basically going to go through another La Nina year,” Sperry said. “We're just trying to be proactive in getting ahead of that curve now so we can save time, stress and money.”

    Lingering snow pack covered parts of the course just days before scheduled racing on the flanks of Mt. Adams in 2010 and again on Mt. Hood in 2011, causing Breakaway Promotions to pick up the tab for private crews to clear roads that are normally closed until the snow pack melts naturally.

    “Last year was the most expensive plowing project we've had to endure,” Sperry said. “Ten days out, we were looking at more than seven miles of snow that had to be removed. A week might not seem like a lot of time to some folks, but at that time of year the snow pack melts rapidly. I've seen instances where three miles of snow can literally disappear within three to four days.”

    Beyond helping with the course-clearing efforts, the date change could also free up several professional pro teams to send riders or squads to the race. Conflicts with the Philadelphia races had recently led to diminishing number of pros turning up for the non-NRC race in Oregon.

    “It looked like we were once again going to fall on the same weekend as Philly,” Sperry said. “We've competed with Philly in the past, and that hasn't necessarily been a huge issue. But what happened last year...

  • Andy Schleck must reach Tour de France in better form, says Horner

    Chris Horner has begun his pre-season training earlier than usual.
    Article published:
    December 10, 2011, 18:12 GMT
    Barry Ryan

    RadioShack-Nissan rider looks forward to tactical battle

    Chris Horner is happy to play a supporting role for Andy Schleck at the 2012 Tour de France, but he has warned that his new RadioShack-Nissan teammate will have to reach July in better form than he did last season.

    The American downplayed the idea that the Schleck brothers had made many tactical errors over the course of the three weeks, but did voice his concern that Andy had arrived at the start shy of the same condition he had in 2010.

    “I think it’s easy to see that Alberto [Contador] and Andy’s form wasn’t as strong as it had been the year before because those two were definitely flying the year before,” Horner told Cyclingnews in Calpe, where the 2011 Leopard and RadioShack teams were united for their first formal training camp. “They were missing one percent or half a percent, but at this level that can win you the Tour de France.

    “The mistakes Andy made during last year’s Tour were not made during the race, it was before the race. He didn’t arrive at the Tour de France with the same form that he had the year before. So that’s where the first mistake came from, and mistakes after that were small and insignificant with the exception of the Alpe d’Huez stage.”

    By the time that memorable stage came around, of course, the unfortunate Horner was watching at home on television after crashing out of the Tour at the end of week one. While he enjoyed the spectacle, he was surprised by the approach of all of the overall contenders.

    “Every GC guy on that stage tactically blew that up...

  • Vande Velde puts off talk of retirement

    Christian Vande Velde (Garmin-Cervelo) having a good ride again today after his strong TT yesterday.
    Article published:
    December 11, 2011, 6:51 GMT
    Daniel Benson

    Contract ends in 2012 but American may continue

    Having confirmed his plans to ride both the Giro d’Italia and Tour de France in 2012, Christian Vande Velde has also dismissed talk of retirement. The 35-year-old's contract expires at the end of 2012 and he had previously talked about ending his pro career after the London Olympics. However Vande Velde has now stated that he could carry on into 2013.

    "I stopped talking about retirement towards the end of last year," Vande Velde told Cyclingnews.

    "I don’t want to put myself into a box with an expiration date because that's a little short-sighted. If I'm having a good time and my family are happy then I'll continue riding. The biggest thing right now is my family. How many years can you live in a foreign country with the kids away from their grandparents? That’s the biggest strain for me."

    Vande Velde rode to 4th in the 2008 Tour de France but the following two seasons were disrupted by injuries as he struggled to regain his full form. However after a solid Tour in 2011 he found fine form, taking second overall in the USA Pro Cycling Challenge.

    "When you have success it makes it all the easier so you and your family can see that all the sacrifices you and they are making are worth it but when you’re having rough times then that’s obviously much harder for the family to take."

    Tour Success

    Vande Velde's 2012 will centre on another push at the Tour de France, a race he is confident he can compete in for another top five spot. This year he finished in 17th, helping Tom Danielson break into the top 10, but the highlight of Vande Velde's race came on stage 2 when he and his Garmin-Cervelo teammates won their...