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First Edition Cycling News, Sunday, February 12, 2012

Date published:
February 12, 2012, 0:00 GMT
  • Vinokourov to race Coppi e Bartali

    So cute, you could almost eat it...
    Article published:
    February 11, 2012, 19:50 GMT
    Cycling News

    Astana leader back in Italy for first time since 2010 Giro

    Alexandr Vinokourov (Astana) will make his 2012 European race debut at the Settimana Internazionale di Coppi e Bartali at the end of March. The Kazakhstani rider begins his season later this month at the Tour of Langkawi in Malaysia, but surprisingly Coppi e Bartali will mark Vinokourov’s first race on Italian soil since the 2010 Giro d’Italia - a race he led for several days.

    Astana’s Team Manager Giuseppe Martinelli said: “Vinokourov has seldom raced in Italy and he wants to use this appearance at the Coppi–Bartali to pay tribute to the country. I hope his many fans will line the routes of the five stages to cheer him on and reciprocate Alexander's fondness for Italy.”

    Vinokourov will be assisted over the five days of the Coppi–Bartali by Astana directeur sportif Alexandr Shefer, currently on duty at the Tour Méditerranéen. Speaking more directly about Vinokourov’s prospects for the race, Shefer said: “He is training a lot at the moment and is managing his fitness meticulously so that he reaches peak condition in April and May. He seems to have made a full recovery after his serious injury at the Tour de France last year so now there is nothing left to do but see how he reacts, firstly at the Tour of Langkawi in Malaysia and then at the Coppi–Bartali. This will help us gauge whether he has regained racing form and see how he is feeling.”

    2012 is set to be Vinokourov’s final season after a long and controversial career. His sentimental Italian swan song matches his plans to race Langkawi, a race that he stood out in and helped launch his career in 1997.


  • Tough choice for Dwars door Vlaanderen

    2011 Dwars door Vlaanderen podium (l-r): Geraint Thomas, Nick Nuyens, Tyler Farrar
    Article published:
    February 12, 2012, 11:09 GMT
    Brecht Decaluwé

    UCI rules mean a WorldTour team may miss out

    The organisers of Dwars door Vlaanderen have a tough choice to make as UCI rules dictate the number of WorldTour teams that can participate in the race, which takes place on March 21.

    The 1.1 category race - held for the 67th time in Waregem, Belgium - has received requests from 14 of the 18 WorldTour teams, with the exceptions of Liquigas, Euskaltel, RadioShack and BMC.

    The problem is that the rules from the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) stipulate that in a 1.1 race only 50 percent of the participating teams are allowed to be from the WorldTour level.

    “With 25 teams at the start the outcome is we can only accept 13 ProTeams. We asked the UCI for an exception on this rule but
    they didn’t allow it so one team will have to be disappointed. We will make the decision based on the quality of the riders and will decide on the matter at the end of this month,” Yvan Vanhoucke, press officer of Dwars door Vlaanderen, wrote in a press release.

    A solution might be found from the recent conclusion of the CAS in the Contador case. As all the recent results from the Spaniard have been annulled his Saxo Bank team loses out on the WorldTour points gained by Contador in the previous season. With Contador holding 68 per cent of all the Saxo Bank team points the Danish squad might lose their WorldTour status.

    The team led by Danish manager Bjarne Riis shouldn’t fear for its spot on the Dwars door Vlaanderen startlist though as they delivered the winner in the semi-classic at the two most recent editions of the cobbled race with Matti Breschel in 2010 and Nick Nuyens in 2011.


  • Two Christina Watches riders hit by cars in training

    Dane Martin Pedersen (Footon Servetto)
    Article published:
    February 12, 2012, 11:10 GMT
    Cycling News

    Surgery for Pedersen, Wilmann in hospital

    The season has taken a bad turn for Christina Watches-Onfone, as two riders have been hit by cars in training in the last few days.  Martin Pedersen has already had surgery following his crash in Italy, but Frederick Wilmann's injuries appear to be less serious.

    Pedersen was training in Italy with fellow Danes Brian Vandborg (also with Christina Watches)  and Nicki Sorensen (Saxo Bank) when he was hit by a car at a roundabout.  At first it was feared that he had broken his hip, but it turned out to be a lesser fracture.

    “The status is that it is a broken bone up around the hip and femur. Basically we can say that it is a pretty clean break, so it's definitely not something that keeps him out the rest of the season in any way," sport director Michael Blaudzun told

    Pedersen has already undergone surgery and is expected to be returned to Denmark soon for further recuperation.

    Wilmann was training near Trondheim, Norway, when he was hit by the trailer being towed by a car going too fast.  “A car came up at between 60 and 70 km  per hour. We realized that it had too high speed, and one to two seconds later we saw that it had a trailer. The trailer swerved out from behind the car and took all of our lane. It hit me right in the thigh,” he told

    Miraculously, he was not seriously injured.  “Thankfully nothing is broken. But I am really bruised and stitched in several places.” He is still in hospital for observation. 

    “I am truly appalled that today I have to announce that another one of my riders has been run down,” said team owner Christina Hembo in a statement. “Frederick Wilmann is one of the team's absolute profiles and recently in Argentina rode...

  • Contador's absence makes Tour de France harder, Evans says

    Alberto Contador and Cadel Evans at the start in Palma
    Article published:
    February 12, 2012, 12:28 GMT
    Cycling News

    Race opens up to more possible winners

    Alberto Contador's absence will make it more difficult for Cadel Evans to win the Tour de France again, the Australian has said. Instead of seeing the Spaniard merely as a rival for the crown, Evans saw him also as a good rider to measure himself against.

    "Without Contador it will be harder to win the Tour de France. Now I cannot use the Spaniard as a reference point and his team will not take responsibility for the race," Evans told the Gazzetta dello Sport.

    Evans added that the absence of Contador will encourage many more riders to go for their own chances.

    "Other opponents will be more motivated if they feel they have more chances," he said.

    Contador will be unable to ride the Tour this year because of the retroactive two-year ban handed down by the Court for Arbitration for Sport last week. 

  • Schumacher “almost happy” with life and his cycling comeback

    Stefan Schumacher (Christina Watches-Ofone) finished on the podium
    Article published:
    February 12, 2012, 13:32 GMT
    Cycling News

    German struggled with suspension and return to cycling

    Stefan Schumacher had a hard time adjusting to his doping-related ban from pro cycling and his return to racing, but is now at the point where he can say, “I'm almost happy.”  The German said he is having fun again on the bike now that he is with the Christina Watches team.

    Schumacher tested positive for EPO-CERA at the 2008 Tour de France and the following Olympics in Beijing. He was given a two-year ban.

    He has never admitted to doping, but only to making mistakes. “I made mistakes, everyone makes mistakes. It is quite certain that I didn't do everything right. But I can not change the situation,” Schumacher told

    Life during his suspension was not easy. “I tried to fight back,” he said. “At the beginning I trained. Then I felt like I was in a hole. Without motivation. It was not easy for my family and my wife. I tried to keep myself from going crazy. It was a really, really bad time for me,” he said, admitting he also underwent therapy.

    He returned to the peloton with Miche in 2010 and 2011, but things picked up for him last summer when he met Rasmussen at a race, which led to him signing with the Danish Continental ranked team.

    “For me it's about having fun riding races. Having good people around me. Christina Watches-Onfone does not feel like a Continental Team,” he said. “It  is all run very professionally. There is a willingness to develop and improve the team, there are some really talented riders and when we rode the Tour of San Luis under...

  • Hesjedal to lead Garmin-Barracuda at Giro d'Italia

    Top Canadian Ryder Hesjedal
    Article published:
    February 12, 2012, 15:06 GMT
    Cycling News

    Canadian mounts GC ambitions

    Ryder Hesjedal will lead Garmin-Barracuda’s attack on the 2012 Giro d’Italia. The Canadian, who finished 7th in the 2010 Tour de France says that the Giro course is better suited to his style of riding but that he will still ride the Tour in July.

    Hesjedal will be supported by American teammate Christian Vande Velde, who will be using the Giro to hone his form for July. This would suggest that Tom Danielson will be asked to ride the Tour of California in May, followed by the Tour de France.

    “The Giro is the main objective for me,” Hesjedal told Cyclingnews.

    “The team has given me the opportunity and the challenge of riding the GC in the Giro. They think the race suits me and I think that too. There’s a heavy last half in the mountains and I think I’ve shown that I get my best legs towards the end of a race. This gives me an excellent platform heading into the Tour de France.”

    Hesjedal has never been given the opportunity to lead a GC challenge in a grand tour. Despite his top ten in 2010 he shared leadership with Vande Velde and Danielson, although crashes in the race and Danielson's form quickly saw Hesjedal and Vande Velde become key domestiques. The role as team leader isn’t one that Hesjedal fears and he publicly wont be drawn on his aims, whether they be top ten, top five or even the podium.

    “I’m not really thinking about that mindset but the team think I can push high on the GC. I’m not going to fixate on a result or a number, I’m just focussed on the work I need to do. I want to be up there, I know what it feels like to...

  • Vaughters: Kreder is the perfect rider for Amstel Gold

    Michel Kreder (Garmin - Barracuda) strengthened his lead in the race
    Article published:
    February 12, 2012, 18:29 GMT
    Daniel Benson

    Garmin rider picks up two stages in Tour Med

    Michel Kreder is enjoying the fruits of a rested winter and with two stages at the Tour Méditerranéen in his pocket, will be heading to the Spring Classics with a high level of confidence. Kreder had led the race heading into the final stage but lost out to Jon Tiernan-Locke (Endura Racing). Kreder still managed a second place overall finish, as well as winning the young rider classification.

    Garmin manager, Jonathan Vaughters, has long been an admirer of Kreder’s talent, signing him in 2010 from the Rabobank Continental team. Now, on the eve of the Classics, he has tipped the 24-year-old as a future man for the Ardennes and those pipe dreams could become a reality, after what had a been a difficult year for Kreder.

    "His performances have been in line with the type of rider he his. He had a pretty incredible year as a neo-pro and then last year he wasn't so good. He came off a tough Vuelta and then instead of resting he did lots of Six Days in the winter. He basically started last year half cooked and he never really got going again,”" Vaughters told Cyclingnews.

    Two wins in the Med do not transform a rider into a Classics star but Vaughters still believes that Kreder has the necessary promise to deliver.

    "He's the perfect rider for Amstel Gold," said Vaughters. "He's good with small technical roads, crosswinds, and he's really good at uphill sprints. He can climb well, too. He's incredibly good technically so he’s a real racer. He doesn't have a huge engine but he’s really explosive on short climbs and he’ll never lose a wheel."

  • Car causes crash at Valley of the Sun stage race

    The damages caused in the crash
    Article published:
    February 12, 2012, 19:16 GMT
    Neil Browne

    Murphy left with broken hand

    Just two weeks ago Kenda/5-Hour Energy’s John Murphy discussed with Cyclingnews how he was looking forward to the 2012 racing season and his desire to post victories for his new team.

    “I haven’t won a race in two years and that bothers me,” Murphy said in the interview.

    His first race as a member of his new squad was the Valley of the Sun stage race in Phoenix, Arizona. Stage 1 was a 14 mile flat time trial that organizers call fast with a good road surface. It was here that Murphy scored his first win of the race season with a time of 28 minutes and 58 seconds, beating second place finisher Luis Amaran (Jamis Sutter Home p/b Colavita) by 15 seconds.

    “I wanted to show how I could time trial”, said Murphy. “And it’s a small display of how I have matured as a racer.”

    “The form was there and the ability to race my time trial bike was there too.”

    Stage 2 for the pro/category 1 field was a 16 mile loop with only 470 feet of climbing per lap for a total of 94 miles, almost assuring that the stage finish would end in a field sprint. The race’s technical guide states that the course is open to traffic and racers are to observe the road’s center line and not cross the yellow line.

    During the second lap of the race a car had been allowed onto the course in front of the peloton, just as the group was rounding a corner.

    “I was towards the front and someone attacked,” explained Murphy. “We were all full-gas and in single file. Before I knew it the guy in front of me barreled into the car and I hit it too. I had no time to react.”

    The driver, seemingly unaware of what to do with a peloton charging toward the car and spectators screaming to pull off the road, applied the brake. Riders crashed into the back of the stopped car. One racer was pulled from the rear window of the vehicle and the trunk of the...