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First Edition Cycling News, Sunday, February 19, 2012

Date published:
February 19, 2012, 0:00 GMT
  • Nibali searching for first win on Green Mountain

    Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas - Cannondale)
    Article published:
    February 17, 2012, 22:50 GMT
    By:
    Barry Ryan

    Ardennes Classics the early aim for Sicilian

    Without a victory since he sealed the Vuelta a España in September 2010, Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas-Cannondale) is aware that he has an early opportunity to get back in the winning habit on stage five of the Tour of Oman on the slopes of Jabal Al Akhdhar.

    In spite of his season-long consistency in 2011, Nibali remarkably failed to notch up a win over the course of the campaign. While the Sicilian is undoubtedly keen to put that statistic to rights as soon as possible, he is also mindful that there are greater prizes on offer later in the spring, including the Ardennes Classics.

    "In one way, it would be a bit of a liberation to get a win, but I know that there are bigger races coming and I need to do well there too," Nibali told Cyclingnews in Bidbid on Thursday. "It's very important to try and do well here because when I get back to Italy, the big races like Tirreno-Adriatico and Milan-San Remo won't be long in coming. I do want to get a good classification here, but at the same time I don't want to go mad chasing the win."

    Nibali began 2012 with a solid showing at the Tour de San Luis in January, but he recognises that the ascent of the "Green Mountain" in Oman on Saturday is an opportunity both to break the deadlock and to gauge his early condition. He fired an early warning shot by going off the front of the bunch in the testing finale of stage four.

    "That summit finish will be a good test, so we'll get an idea of things there," he said. "In any case, the season has started well and we're hoping we can pick up something along the way."

    The first objective of Nibali's spring campaign is Tirreno-Adriatico in March. While the route, which includes a tough...

  • Pon Holdings buy Cervélo

    The new Cervelo P5 road bikes
    Article published:
    February 18, 2012, 10:01 GMT
    By:
    Cycling News

    Dutch company adds to growing cycling portfolio

    This article originally appeared on BikeRadar

    Pon Holdings have announced that they have acquired Cervélo Cycles after successfully concluding negotiations that began last December. Cervélo will continue to operate independently, retaining its unique identity, innovation and premium brand positioning.

    This is the same strategy Pon employ with their other PBG properties. They also own the Royal Dutch Gazelle brand and the German manufacturer Derby Cycle of which Pon is a major shareholder. "Cervélo is a unique brand that we are very pleased to bring into Pon Bicycle Group [PBG]," said Janus Smalbraak, CEO Pon Holdings, via press-release. “The Canadian based company's state of the art technology and passion for pushing the limits of engineering has captured the imagination of cyclists around the globe. With Cervélo we believe there is great potential for growth and we are looking forward to working with them to achieve these goals."

    Cervélo co-founders Phil White and Gerard Vroomen will both remain with the newly formed Pon Bicycle Group.

    White will continue in his present role as Cervélo CEO. Vroomen will assume a part-time role as business development manager within PBG, focusing on special projects for the group. "The opportunity for Cervélo within Pon Bicycle Group, is tremendous," said White, continuing CEO, and co-founder Cervélo. "The combination of Pon's considerable resources and expertise and Cervélo's cutting edge technology will make us stronger and more competitive as we continue to engineer the best bikes on the planet."

     

  • Cummings fractures pelvis at the Volta ao Algarve

    Steven Cummings in action at the 2011 road world championships
    Article published:
    February 18, 2012, 10:47 GMT
    By:
    Cycling News

    Crash set to keep him out of action for a month

    BMC's Steve Cummings suffered a fractured pelvis at the third stage of the Volta ao Algarve on Friday afternoon and is likely to be out of action for a month. The British rider came to grief after a collision with another rider who was suffering from mechanical problems. It meant that he was unable to repeat his 2011 victory in the stage, which came in the colours of Team Sky.

    "As we came down a small hill the other rider caught my handlebars," Cummings said. "I did not see it coming but that which does not kill us makes us stronger."

    BMC team doctor Giovanni Ruffini confirmed the fracture and the length of time that Cummings is expected to be sidelined.

    "Having consulted with the other physicians we have concluded that he will be off his bike for two weeks and out of competition for a month," he said.

  • Pellizotti eyes return to cycling

    Franco Pellizotti (Liquigas-Doimo)
    Article published:
    February 18, 2012, 12:38 GMT
    By:
    Cycling News

    Rider's ban comes to an end in May

    Franco Pellizotti is approaching the end of his doping ban and the Italian is looking for a rapid return to the sport when he is allowed to compete again. CAS gave Pellizotti a two-year ban in March 2011 for blood irregularities, which was backdated to the previous May. With the ban set to finish on 5 May this year, the climber is hoping for a quick route back into cycling - possibly in time for the Giro d'Italia.

    "There is interest in me from both Lampre-ISD and Liquigas-Cannondale and both of them have spoken to my agent," he said. "I would love to be at the Giro if it's possible though I would obviously have to find my race pace very quickly."

    Pellizotti's agent elaborated on the possibilities that may become available to Pellizotti, claiming that there are other teams interested too.

    "Lampre asked about Franco's physical and mental condition and also asked for clarification on when his ban expires," Alex Carera told biciciclismo.com.

    "The possible revocation of Saxo Bank's World Tour licence could reopen the door of the Giro to Acqua & Sapone, who, together with Farnese, has always shown some interest. It is clear that for these two teams Franco would have a leading role while with Lampre he would be working for [Michele] Scarponi in the Giro and could be the leader in the Tour. But it is still premature to talk about this. We are confident that Franco will have a contract in his hand in early March."

  • Schleck confident of success at 2012 Tour de France

    Johan Bruyneel will attempt to work the oracle with Andy Schleck in 2012.
    Article published:
    February 18, 2012, 19:53 GMT
    By:
    Cycling News

    Claims that course will suit him and Bruyneel can bring improvement

    Having been awarded the 2010 Tour de France title in a courtroom earlier this month following the CAS ruling on Alberto Contador, Andy Schleck (RadioShack-Nissan) is confident that he can win it on the road in 2012. Much has been made of the fact that Schleck's chances this year will be increased by Contador's absence, but the 26-year-old from Luxembourg reckons he is well placed to win regardless of what anyone else does or doesn't do.

    Despite having more time trial kilometres than last year - a discipline that is seen as one of his major weaknesses - Schleck insists that the other stages will suit him even more than in recent years. He also predicted that new team boss Johan Bruyneel, who has masterminded nine wins in the Tour de France in his managerial career, would extract an extra one or two percent from him, which could prove crucial.

    "Compared with 2011, we anticipate more stages where I can where I can try something. I am a runner that can resist for 40 to 50 kilometers ahead as I proved when I won Liege-Bastogne-Liege 2009. In this sense, the Tour is perfect for me this year. It will be like running a classic every day," he told Luxembourgish newspaper Wort.

    "If Bruyneel helps me progress a little against the clock and some also in the mountains, then I'll be better. But be realistic, this change of director will not improve my performance by 10%. If I gain 1% or 2%, that would be enough to be happy. I have to keep my qualities of climber. If you want to win the Tour, it is in the mountains where I'll make it."

  • Bouhanni packs a punch in Oman

    Nacer Bouhanni (FDJ-Big Mat)
    Article published:
    February 18, 2012, 22:45 GMT
    By:
    Barry Ryan

    Frenchman mixes boxing and cycling in winter training

    The Tour of Oman boasts a line-up of sprinters worthy of a Grand Tour, but second-year professional Nacer Bouhanni (FDJ-BigMat) has shown few inhibitions in the bunch finishes on the Arabian Peninsula to date.

    The 21-year-old Frenchman placed third in the grandstand finish behind Marcel Kittel and André Greipel on stage 3, and the following day he was one of the few fast men to survive the tough finishing circuit en route to fourth place.

    After beginning his season with victory on stage one of the Étoile de Bessèges, Bouhanni was already on a high before his arrival in Oman. Yet while earning his right to go toe to toe with Cavendish, Greipel et al is surely a further boon to his confidence, he admitted that a sprinter is never truly happy unless he is winning.

    "Yes, there's certainly a strong field of sprinters here and I've beaten a few of them, but as a sprinter, you think about crossing the line first," Bouhanni told Cyclingnews in front of Muscat's Royal Opera House on Saturday.

    Early-season bunch gallops are often disorganised affairs, as newly-formed lead-out trains slowly learn to coordinate their movements. The Tour of Oman has been no exception in that regard, but Bouhanni has thus far had the guile to sidestep his way through the carnage.

    "Greipel's team has been controlling things a little for him, and he's been led out well, but behind that, it's hard, you have to fight for your place," he said. "I don't have a lead-out train either, but I try and stay sheltered during the stage and then in the finale I either try alone or with William Bonnet as my lead-out man."

    The sweet science of sprinting

    Of course, Bouhanni's continued dalliance with his other sporting passion...

  • "Calm" Evans is the perfect teammate, says Hincapie

    George Hincapie (BMC) always a hit with the fans.
    Article published:
    February 19, 2012, 11:34 GMT
    By:
    Cycling News

    Tour de France veteran compares reigning champ with Armstrong

    Having been part of a winning team nine times, George Hincapie is ideally placed to identify what is required from a Tour de France winner. Hincapie was side by side with his compatriot Lance Armstrong for all seven of his victories in the race and he also assisted Alberto Contador in 2007 and Cadel Evans last year in the colours of BMC.

    Hincapie knows Armstrong and Evans extremely well, and stated that the two men are very different on and off the bike. Hincapie will be looking to be part of a winning team for a record tenth time this summer, when Evans will look to successfully defend the title he won in 2011. If he gets to the start line in one piece it will be the 38-year-old Hincapie's 17th Tour - a statistic that offers proof of his longevity and his durability.

    "Cadel is definitely a little bit more relaxed. He doesn't get so much involved in the team tactics, at least in front of the riders. I'm sure he does with John (Lelangue) but he relies a lot more on what I think about the team tactics especially on the road and what John thought in the car. To me this year, he was just a lot different."

    "He was a lot calmer and seemed really happy with the people he was around that were surrounding him in the team and with the staff. He seemed calm where Lance was always very intense during the Tour and always ready to attack the race. Where Cadel wanted many times to let things go and see what happened. As long as he was in the front and out of trouble he was OK."

     

  • Velits continues Omega Pharma-QuickStep winning streak

    Peter Velits is the 2012 Tour of Oman winner
    Article published:
    February 19, 2012, 16:39 GMT
    By:
    Barry Ryan

    Slovak comes out on top in Oman

    Peter Velits continued Omega Pharma-QuickStep’s remarkable beginning to the 2012 season by taking overall victory at the Tour of Oman after holding off the challenge of Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas-Cannondale) on the final stage to Matrah Corniche on Sunday.

    Velits had taken hold of the leader’s red jersey by one second the previous day on the unforgiving slopes of Jabal Al Akhdhar, but his tenuous grip risked being loosened completely at the first intermediate sprint on stage 6 when Nibali was incorrectly adjudged to have picked up a two-second bonus by taking second place at the first sprint.

    Several kilometres passed before the commissaires reviewed the pictures and realised that they had mistaken Nibali for his teammate Peter Sagan, and Velits could breathe a little more easily.

    “The one second lead was not enough,” a relieved Velits explained before climbing onto the podium. “It was quite tense before the sprint and even more so after the sprint when we didn’t know what was happening.”

    Omega Pharma-QuickStep controlled affairs from there on in to seal the win for Velits, the twelfth triumph of the year for the team. After a trying campaign last year, the addition of a co-sponsor and slew of new riders has heralded something of a renaissance for the squad.

    Velits himself was part of a platoon of riders who joined from the now-defunct HTC-Highroad outfit, but he believes the team’s overhaul has had a motivating effect on all concerned. The Slovak joins Levi Leipheimer, Andy Fenn, Tom Boonen, Francesco Chicchi and Gerald Ciolek on the squad’s list of winners to date.

    “The change for the team was...