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First Edition Cycling News, Sunday, December 20, 2009

Date published:
December 20, 2009, 0:00 GMT
  • Luca Damiani signs with Kenda Pro Cycling

    Luca Damiani was happy to start climbing.
    Article published:
    December 19, 2009, 18:56 GMT
    Kirsten Frattini

    Italian to race much of the road season in the US

    Kenda Pro Cycling owner Chad Thompson announced the addition of Italian Luca Damiani to its roster in 2010. The late-signing adds a valuable element of speed and technical skill to a team that seeks success at the National Racing Calendar (NRC) level next year.

    "We were trying to see if we had the resources to do it," Thompson said. "I knew his results, knew he was a brilliant rider but I wanted to see how he was as a teammate and with communication. I called around and he got gleaming reviews as a friend and a rider. I was surprised at how everyone felt about him."

    Damiani, 26, is a member of the Italian National Cyclo-cross team and arrived state-side in October of 2007 to try his hand at US ‘cross before the start of the European calendar. He left a sound impression on the former Colavita-Sutter Home presented by Cooking Light team, and came on board for two season in 2008 and 2009.

    Damiani’s contract was not renewed for a third season following the team’s title sponsorship change to Jamis-Sutter Home presented by Colavita in 2010.

    "He had offers in Italy but he fell in love with the US style of racing and he wanted to be here," Thompson said. "He will fit the mold of all the riders we’ve been hiring and that’s because he’s aggressive. He is an all-out rider that has sheer tenacity and attacks often. Having an aggressive riding style is our theory and motif for 2010, to let the riders do the talking. He also really wanted to ride with Frankie Andreu, too."

    Increased funding allowed Thompson the means to hire well-known directeur sportif and former cyclist Frankie Andreu. Andreu’s career highlights include a 12-year professional cycling career and nine Tour de France starts before retiring in 2000. Since then, Andreu has taken on a directeur sportif role for teams Toyota-United and now Kenda Pro Cycling.

    Damiani is best known for his savvy cyclo-cross and criterium...

  • New Team VBF to work with the Vera Bradley Foundation in 2010

    US time trail champ Alison Powers (Team Type 1) finished second in the opening time trial.
    Article published:
    December 20, 2009, 0:33 GMT
    Kirsten Frattini

    Powers eyes NRC victory with Team VBF

    The former ValueAct Capital Women’s Pro Cycling Team will work with the Vera Bradley Foundation for Breast Cancer Awareness in 2010. The team is newly named Team VBF and has signed National Racing Calendar leader, Alison Powers to lead the team in pre-season training camp held in Tucson, Arizona in March.

    "Our mission is to help generate awareness and funds for breast cancer research," said Lisa Hunt, team manager and directeur sportif. "We are incredibly excited about the opportunity to align with something that means a lot to me personally and to all women across America. We have all been effect by it one way or another and it’s great to support an organization like this."

    The Indiana-based company designs and sells high quality quilted bags and donates proceeds to breast cancer awareness and research. The newly formed Team VBF’s 11-roster squad will participate in the fundraising by hosting a Vera Bradley Foundation donation link on their respective personal web pages. The Vera Bradley Foundation is responsible for raising more than 10 million dollars for breast cancer research.

    Specialized will equip Team VBF with bicycles for the up coming season. The California-based bike manufacture is closely affiliated with the Susan G Koman For The Cure, a global movement for breast cancer awareness.

    "We wanted to find a partner that was involved with women and create a marketing partnership with a women’s oriented company," Hunt said. "Especially because of Specialized and their women’s line. We will conduct clinics and women’s rides around the country at Specialized dealers and we just really connect with women."

    2009 NRC individual winner, Alison Powers will lead an 11-women roster beginning at the team training camp held in Tucson. The squad will begin the competitive season at the San Dimas Stage Race, a leg opener to the Redlands Bicycle Classic held at the end of March.


  • Russia abandons Costa Rican tour

    Alexander Khatuntsev (Russia) finishes the stage, but he was disqualified from the race
    Article published:
    December 20, 2009, 10:47 GMT
    Richard Tyler

    Team quit in protest over teammate's disqualification

    The Russian national team abandoned La Vuelta Ciclista Internacional a Costa Rica en masse on Saturday in protest of the race jury's decision to disqualify Alexander Khatuntsev a day earlier.

    Khatuntsev had been the first rider to cross the line on Friday's third stage, however, the 24-year-old had taken a wrong turn, cutting some 20 kilometres off the day's 130.3 kilometre course. The race's chief commissaire, Cuban Rafael Rodríguez Padrón, made the decision to disqualify the Russian from the race, despite Russian protests that Khatuntsev had been misdirected by race officials.

    Russia nevertheless won the third stage with Sergey Kolesnikov the next rider to finish, one second clear of the peloton.

    But in an act of solidarity for their teammate, the remaining five Russian riders commenced the race's fourth stage in La Fortuna, only to abandon the race after several metres. Alexey Shmidt, Víctor Shmalk, Evgeniy Kovalev, Ivan Kovalev and Kolesnikov were the riders to leave the event on Saturday.

    Although the Russian's departure does not affect the overall classification, the team had been one of the major animators of the race. Kolesnikov's stage three victory had followed Kovalev and Shmidt's 1-2 finish on the second stage into Ciudad Quesada.

    Kolesnikov's abandon sees Henry Raabe (Citibank-Economy-Rent-a-Car-Blue) move into the lead of the points classification

    Kolesnikov had also been the Russian team's highest placed rider on general classification in 26th, 1:23 behind current leader and defending Champion Gregori Brenes (BCR-Pizza Hut-KHS-Powerade).

  • Allan Davis to Astana?

    Article published:
    December 20, 2009, 13:02 GMT
    Richard Tyler

    Australian could be re-united with Contador once again

    Allan Davis could soon find himself a teammate of Alberto Contador for the third time in his career, after reports that the Australian is close to signing with Astana. Davis this week left Quick Step a year early after one and a half seasons with the Belgian squad.

    Rumours of Astana's interest in Davis had started to circulate in October as the Kazakh team began to restructure in the wake of departures from the squad for US-based RadioShack. Davis, 29, confirmed to Australian website News Mail  on October 17 that Astana was one of a number of teams with which he had been in contact.

    "Astana and other teams are interested. I have one more year on contract with Quick Step, that's true, but there is a buy-out clause if needed," he said.

    In reporting his departure from Quickstep Dutch and Spanish media reported on Saturday that Astana had maintained its interest in the sprinter over the intervening months.

    A move to Astana would allow Davis a level of autonomy in terms of his race schedule as he would become the team's most pedigreed sprinter. Despite a largely successful season in 2009, he had been forced to share responsibility at Quick Step with a number of riders, including Belgian star Tom Boonen.

    If Davis does sign with Astana, it will be the third time he will have ridden on the same team as Alberto Contador and the second time the two have ridden for an Astana-backed team. They first rode together at Spanish squad ONCE in 2003 and remained with the team through several iterations until its final year as Astana-Würth in 2006.

    Following Davis' acquittal from involvement in the Operación Puerto affair in December 2006, he was then re-united with Contador at Discovery Channel for the 2007 season.

    Astana have already secured the signatures of Paolo Tiralongo, David De La Fuente, Andriy Grivko, Enrico Gasparotto and 2006 Tour de France Champion Oscar Pereiro for the 2010...

  • Saxo Bank's race schedule to shrink in 2010

    Fabien Cancellara (L) and Andy Schleck lead their Saxo Bank teammates on a ride in Monaco.
    Article published:
    December 20, 2009, 14:15 GMT
    Richard Tyler

    Financial constraints force downsize in team and programme

    Saxo Bank principal Bjarne Riis has admitted that financial restrictions will force the team to race a reduced schedule of races in 2010. Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten reports that the absence of a replacement for former sponsor IT Factory has forced the team to approach the new season with a smaller roster and re-evaluation of its goals.

    "Our race program for the coming season looks really good, people are unlikely to notice the races we have cut away," Riis told Jyllands-Posten. "Our team is definitely on par with that of 2009. If you look at it, we [still] have the World's best Classics team."

    The financial constraints placed on the team mean Saxo Bank have been unable to replace departing stalwarts Alexandr Kolobnev, Lars Bak, Kurt-Asle Arvesen and Karsten Kroon. Saxo Bank have, however, bolstered their roster with several new riders including, Australian Richie Porte and Argentinean Sebastian Haedo.

    Despite the loss of several of his more experienced riders, Riis is confident the younger members of the team will come to the fore. "As I see it, it makes room for some others to go a step up. It is quite natural that they take [the other riders] place; I am not worried," said Riis. "I think there's a little too much focus our finances and who we have lost; I do not think there is any reason to be concerned.

    "We have a strong team with guys like Chris Anker Sørensen and Matti Breschel. Also Jakob Fuglsang has come into the team and proven to be world class. I'm not nervous about it. We have as equally a strong team as in the past."

    Saxo Bank Sports Director Kim Andersen acknowledged that, "It is clear that we can not go and get quite as many victories," however, the squad's narrower focus will not see any change the team's major goals, including the Tour de France.

    Andersen and Riis told Jyllands-Posten that they expect the spread of talent across new teams such as RadioShack...

  • Wiggins eyes Tour de France-Olympic double

    Bradley Wiggins (Great Britain) races at the 2008 Track World Championships
    Article published:
    December 20, 2009, 18:39 GMT
    Richard Tyler

    Tour, Olympic team pursuit floated as possible goal for 2012

    Bradley Wiggins says he may aim for the ambitious double of overall victory at the Tour de France and Olympic gold in 2012.

    Team Sky's latest recruit told Sky Sports News this week that although balancing the two objectives will be complicated, he was enthusiastic about the prospect of becoming the first rider to achieve such a feat.

    "It's going to be quite a difficult challenge but that's the attractiveness of it to be honest," Wiggins told Sky Sports News. "Come 2012, how close it is to the Tour de France finishing may be an issue - we'll have to take a look at the programme. That's part of the big challenge though - trying to win the Tour and an Olympic gold in the same year would be quite something."

    No rider has won the Tour de France and Olympic gold in any event in the same year. Between 1912 and 1992, Olympic competition was only open to amateur athletes, however in the professional era since two Tour-winning riders, Miguel Indurain (1991-1995) and Jan Ullrich (1997), have also claimed Olympic gold medals during their careers.

    Indurain won the individual time trial in Atlanta in 1996 and four years later Ullrich won the road race at the Sydney games.

    Unlike the Spaniard and the German, Wiggins would aim for gold on the track, rather than the road. With the individual pursuit – an event Wiggins has won at the past two Olympics - no longer part of the games programme, he said he will focus instead on the defence of the team pursuit he and his Great Britain teammates claimed in Beijing last year.

    Any attempt at the Tour de France-Olympic double would rely on Wiggins's ability to deal with a rapid turn-around from the French race, and the potential conflict with the yet-to-be-announced track schedule for London. With the games scheduled to start on July 27, the Briton may have less than a week to refocus for the track.

    Three years out, Tour tops the list

  • Pneumonia forces O'Grady to cancel comeback race

    Stuart O'Grady (Saxo Bank) at the 2009 Tirreno-Adriatico.
    Article published:
    December 20, 2009, 18:50 GMT
    Shane Stokes

    Strong field set to take part in Siejka Launceston International Classic

    Stuart O’Grady’s plan to return to racing in next Sunday’s Stan Siejka Launceston International Classic has been derailed by a bout of illness picked up last week.

    “I spent Wednesday to Friday with a raging fever, incredibly painful headaches, some chest pain and a few other nasty symptoms,” he told Cyclingnews this week. “I decided it was time to go into the hospital and get the diagnosis. I spent all Friday at the Royal Adelaide getting checked out, tested and so on, still feeling extremely ordinary. They diagnosed me with bacterial pneumonia.

    “I have quite a serious chest infection and started antibiotics immediately. They released me from hospital Friday afternoon, and have been told to take it easy for 7-10 days.”

    O’Grady has had a tough run of it in recent weeks, suffering a dramatic collapse in the Valencia round of the MotoGP championship in November. He had just completed a ‘hot lap’ on the Ducati two-seater MotoGP motorcycle with Randy Mamola, and it is thought that the extreme G-forces of that caused his seizure. He has suffered two head injuries in the past 10 years and has some scarring on his brain.

    More recently, his two-year-old daughter Keira had to spend a week in quarantine with swine flu and, with his wife Anne Marie caring for her there, he had to leave the Saxo Bank survival camp early and return to Monte Carlo to look after their two other children.

    He had just travelled back to Australia when he came down with pneumonia.

    O’Grady is as currently unsure as to when he will be back in action, but the illness has put a question mark over his form for the Tour Down Under and the Bay Series races. “Depending on the follow-through examinations, showing how my chest is improving (hopefully), that will decide when and how hard I can begin training. It’s been a very crazy past month, but my family’s...

  • Team Milram training in Mallorca

    Team Milram riders during the 2009 season
    Article published:
    December 20, 2009, 22:13 GMT
    Cycling News

    German ProTour team wraps up week-long training camp

    While much of Europe has been hit by winter weather the last few days, making training outdoors impossible, Germany's Team Milram has been holding a one-week training camp on the island of Mallorca. Far away from the cold, all 24 riders together with the team's staff have been working hard under the Mallorcan sun for the last week.

    "We called together our complete new squad, to prepare ourselves together for the important work in the coming season," said team manager Gerry van Gerwen. "The guys together with our sporting staff and the physiotherapists and mechanics have completed a tough program.

    "Our riders trained up to six hours each day, either everyone together or divided up into special groups, to prepare for their different races, such as the season start in Australia or for the Classics.

    "We can look with confidence to the new year. The signs are there, starting with the meetings to the technical settings on the bikes up to the daily training - everything has gone perfectly," van Gerwen said.

    All of the riders were able to garner important training kilometres, with the exception of Artur Gajek and Robert Förster, who were suffering from colds. "This coming Tuesday all the team members will travel home just in time for the holidays. All of the riders, sporting staff and our personnel have earned a good Christmas celebration with the loved ones."