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First Edition Cycling News, Sunday, January 17, 2010

Date published:
January 17, 2010, 0:00 GMT
  • Milram ready for Down Under

    Team Milram's riders prepare for the Tour Down Under in Australia
    Article published:
    January 16, 2010, 21:17 GMT
    Cycling News

    Training camp on Cyprus for later starters

    Like so many teams, Team Milram is sending its riders in various directions at the moment. Sprinter Robert Förster is leading the team in its season opener in the Tour Down Under, while another batch of riders are enjoying balmy temperatures on the island of Cyprus.

    Sprinters Förster and Wim Stroetinga will look for the team's first win in Australia. Last year Stroetinga finished second in the opening criterium.

    The seven riders from the German ProTour team have been training Down Under for over a week now. "With temperatures around 25 degrees Celsius and outstanding logistics, organisation and accommodations, we have optimal conditions here," said Milram Directeur Sportif Vittorio Algeri,

    "We have trained well and looked at some of the important parts of the course," Algeri said. The team has check out not only Willunga Hill, which will be featured in the fifth stage, as well as the shorter climbs in the third and fourth stages.

    Most importantly, the team has been working on its sprints. "The sprint lead-out. which we have practised so far, is quite good. Wim and 'Frösi' are getting better in form every day, so that we are really looking forward to how it will work out in the race," said Algeri.

    Halfway across the world, five Milram riders have been training on the Mediterranean island of Cyprus for the first time. Christian Knees, Fabian Wegmann, Johannes Fröhlinger, Matthias Russ and Paul Voss will end their two-training camp there this coming week.

    "Training on Cyprus is a nice change from our usual places," said Wegmann. "Everything is good here, especially the weather – it is about 10 degrees warmer than on Majorca, for example. The training conditions are perfect, some of the roads are brand new and you can ride for hours and barely see a car."

    "The weather here is better than expected," said Milram's Johannes Fröhlinger. "With temperatures up to 24 degrees...

  • Bruyneel: RadioShack very motivated for Down Under success

    Both Lance Armstrong and Johan Bruyneel have spoken about the importance of starting RadioShack's season with a win.
    Article published:
    January 16, 2010, 22:45 GMT
    Greg Johnson

    Armstrong expecting Team Sky to push technological boundaries

    Johan Bruyneel believes his RadioShack squad has the motivation required to fulfill its goal of a stage victory at the season-opening Tour Down Under this week. The race will mark RadioShack’s ProTour debut, having been built around seven time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong and the infrastructure – plus many of the riders – of Bruyneel’s old Astana squad.

    With RadioShack’s entire executive committee in Australia to see the team debut, a victory could come as early as this evening’s Cancer Council Helpline Classic. While not part of the race’s ProTour component, all riders lining up for Tuesday’s first stage will contest the event and it’s likely going to finish in a bunch kick, perfectly suited for RadioShack sprinter Gert Steegmans.

    “It’s a new team so obviously it’s a new start; for me personally after two years with Astana it’s back to an American organisation and American spirit,” said Bruyneel. “Obviously we want to be good from the start, so we brought a team to Tour Down Under that can perform. We have a sprinter in Gert Steegmans who is taking a new start in his career also after a difficult year last year, so we’re very motivated.

    “Also for the new sponsor we’d like to show something from the beginning, whether that’s winning or something else, we’re definitely going to try win a stage in the first race for RadioShack,” he added.

    Steegmans’ difficult year in 2009 included no racing from July onwards. The rider’s contract with Katusha was dissolved after he refused to sign the team’s new anti-doping charter, leaving the Belgian without a team and little results as he didn’t start the Tour.

    Bruyneel believes former winners Andre Greipel and defending champion Allan Davis are favourite heading into the ProTour opener. While he believes they’re in better...

  • Hunter back in Pro Tour at Tour Down Under after South African fallout

    Robert Hunter is with the Garmin-Transitions Team for 2010.
    Article published:
    January 16, 2010, 23:15 GMT
    Jean-François Quénet

    Former Barloworld rider gets new start with Garmin-Transitions

    South African cycling seems to be in limbo after Nolan Hoffman's positive doping test for EPO followed Barloworld's withdrawal from the sport's team sponsors list, but the country's number one cyclist is back in the ProTour ranks. Robert Hunter has moved to the Garmin-Transitions team with the aim of becoming a stage winner in Grand Tours again after two difficult seasons with Barloworld.

    "It's great to be back in a big team," said Hunter, who spent three years with Pro Continental outfit Barloworld after the Phonak folded. In 2006, Hunter was a dedicated domestique for Floyd Landis, who tested positive after winning the Tour de France.

    "I've enjoyed my time with Barloworld, but our start was never secured in all the races we wanted to take part in, and it made our life as bike riders difficult," the 32-year-old from Johannesburg said.

    "I should have joined Garmin two years ago when I was first offered a position," he lamented. "I didn't take the opportunity because of what was promised to me. As a South African, I thought I had to be with Barloworld. We were told the team was getting bigger and better, but it only got smaller and smaller after the successful Tour de France we had in 2007."

    Hunter himself won a 2007 Tour stage in Montpellier, as did in Briançon Juan Mauricio Soler, who secured the polka dot jersey. The 2008 Tour was a totally different story, though, with Barloworld drawing the most attention for Moises Dueñas' positive doping test.

    "It was a big investment for this South African company to sponsor a cycling team, but the return for them would have been much bigger, had they invested a little bit more after our successful first Tour de France," Hunter said. "At the end, it's a big waste and a missed opportunity for South African cycling. Most of the South African cyclists hired by Barloworld also haven't taken this opportunity to become true professional bike racers."


  • Sagan not afraid to challenge Armstrong

    Peter Sagan (Liquigas) on front of the break.
    Article published:
    January 17, 2010, 11:37 GMT
    Jean-François Quénet

    Liquigas-Doimo neo-pro shines in ProTour debut

    During the ten laps of the Cancer Council Helpline Classic in which Lance Armstrong was away at the front, there was a rookie with the oldie. Peter Sagan hasn’t turned 20 yet but he made a strong showing in his first race.

    Afterwards, he was delighted to have been under the spotlights. “This is my first race as a pro with Liquigas”, said the young Slovak from Zilina. “When I saw Armstrong breaking away, I decided to go as well, otherwise I wouldn’t have done it.”

    “It was amazing to be up there with him, and especially to see him taking such long turns”, Sagan added. “Unfortunately, the peloton didn’t let us go away too much.”

    The teenager remembered watching the Tour de France on TV as he grew up, but admitted his favourite rider wasn’t Armstrong but Jan Ullrich. “I was a fan of Armstrong, too”, he added. As a former mountain biker, he’s got some sympathy for Cadel Evans as well.

    At Liquigas-Doimo, Sagan is regarded as the successor of Roman Kreuziger, being a super talent from the former Czechoslovakia who came to the team at a very young age. Like the Czech climber who finished ninth in last year’s Tour de France, the Slovak also has a strong off-road background.

    In 2008, he was the junior world champion in mountain biking, second at the cyclo-cross world championship and fourth in the world road race.

    The Santos Tour Down Under isn’t his first visit to Australia, as he was here four months ago for the mountain bike World championship, where he finished 4th in the U-23 category.

    “I’m not new to road racing”, he underlined. “I’ve done a lot of races on the road as a junior and I’m ready to start my career.”

    Looking to the future, the youngster concluded: “I know that Armstrong is 19 years older than me but I wouldn’t mind to still be racing in...

  • Francaise des Jeux fires Duval

    Française Des Jeux
    Article published:
    January 17, 2010, 12:01 GMT
    Susan Westemeyer

    Young French rider's B-sample positive for appetite suppressant

    Francaise des Jeux has fired Aurelien Duval, after his B-sample also came back positive for norfenfluramine. The 21-year-old had been suspended after testing positive at the Franco-Belge stage race in October.

    Norfenfluramine is an appetite suppressant. He now faces a two-year suspension.

    “We are especially disappointed for Aurelien, because it is not a performance-enhancing product,” said team Sport Director Martial Gayant.

    Duval's attorney, Redouane Mahrach was also upset at the thought of a two-year ban. “There must be a double standard. You cannot condemn an athlete like Aurelien who is positive for norfenfluraminee the same as someone who is full of EPO,” he wrote in the French newspaper L'Union.

    Duval finished second in the Under 23 cyclo-cross World Championships. He missed much of the 2009 season due to ligament problems.

  • Turtur: TDU will remain sprinter’s race

    Allan Davis (Astana) is one of the riders suited to the Tour Down Under race route.
    Article published:
    January 17, 2010, 13:31 GMT
    Greg Johnson

    Race director happy with balance

    Tour Down Under race director Mike Turtur and his team have spent much time tweaking the race’s route in recent years, but it seems the Olympic gold medallist is now satisfied with the balance that has been found. The event’s predominately flat parcours favours sprinters with strong enough teams to pull them over the Willunga climb or Spring Classic riders.

    “The style of race, I think, suites the time of year,” said Tutur. “I think the riders would agree that the distances and terrain is what’s required at this time of year and I’ve got no problem whatsoever with it being a sprinter style of race. You look at other races like Paris-Nice, Tour de Suisse, Dauphine, they’re all races that suite a certain types and we’re just one of those races that suite a certain type of rider.

    “To have quality sprinters here, I’m happy,” he said. “To have the rainbow jersey and the big Grand Tour riders here like Alejandro Valverde and Oscar Pereiro, that’s just a bonus. We’re very happy.”

    A second lap of the Willunga climb on stage five was introduced last year after fears the race was too easy for international riders. Some riders like Robbie McEwen spoke out against the move saying the race was then too difficult, but Turtur believes it’s the riders that make the route challenging.

    “The headline last year was too hard too early. After I got my head out of my cornflakes…,” joked Turtur. “These guys make it hard. We could have a race on flat roads for 150 kilometres, and they’ll say it’s hard. I’m out the roof with a red flag [then] barely back inside the car and they’re attacking. The terrain isn’t difficult here and the distances are no more than 150 kilometres on any day.”

    Turtur likened the race to the first week of the Tour de France, where the who’s who of sprinters...

  • Business time for Brailsford's boys

    Shane Sutton and David Brailsford consider the proceedings carefully.
    Article published:
    January 17, 2010, 13:38 GMT
    Les Clarke

    Team Sky applies track lessons for road success

    Team Sky manager Dave Brailsford has praised his riders for "sticking to the plan" in executing a brilliant leadout and subsequent win in the Cancer Council Helpline Classic in Adelaide, Australia.

    The team worked flawlessly in the closing laps to deliver Greg Henderson and Chris Sutton to the finish for a sensational one-two in the criterium that opens the Santos Tour Down Under week before the race starts on Tuesday.

    Both men are accomplished track riders, as are the likes of Russell Downing and Ben Swift, who were instrumental in delivering their leader and Australian sprinter to the finish for the win. Brailsford explained that the lessons learnt by both staff and riders in the velodrome are vital to the success of the team's first outing/

    "Technically, there's a lot you can take from the track and apply to the road - I think that today the plan was to take it to Columbia, we'd knew they'd come back at us and then we'll able to go at it again. Perfect," said Brailsford, who oversaw Great Britain's all-conquering performance at the Beijing Olympics in 2008.

    "They [HTC-Columbia] knew that was coming - they knew that in everything we did during the week. We knew they'd come back at us and then we'd go at them again; there's so much you can take from the track in terms of tactics. We're pretty good at the track and the people who have doubted us, said we wouldn't know what we're doing... well, we're here and we mean business," he added.

    It was an unveiled comment on observers who have criticised the British team for its recent slick presentation in London and attention to detail, not to mention the squad's healthy budget. There were suggestions that the team may revolve too heavily on marketing and spin, although the perfect strike rate after one race may be useful in quietening the critics.

    "I think we know what we're doing... I think that there have been a lot of people saying we're all about hype and marketing...

  • Greipel: I’m not favourite for TDU

    Andre Griepel (Columbia-HTC) isn't sure how he'll go with two laps of Willunga, having crashed out before the stage last year.
    Article published:
    January 18, 2010, 0:01 GMT
    Greg Johnson

    German juggernaut denies favourite status

    HTC-Columbia's Andre Greipel believes claims that he’s the favourite for this week’s Tour Down Under are incorrect, despite his long-running success at the Australian race. Greipel dominated the event in 2007 and even by 2008 winner Allan Davis’ own admission would have been difficult to beat last year, had he not crashed out of the race.

    “It’s the beginning of the season, nobody knows how their condition is really,” said Greipel. “The race has become a little bit tougher now, it’s harder, I don’t see myself as the favourite at all. We’ll try to be up there but I think there are a lot of other riders this year who can win the race. We want to win a stage, that’s why we’re here.”

    Greipel pretended to forget the events that transpired last time he was in Australia. Greipel’s early season was destroyed when colliding with a parked Police motorcycle forced him out for four months, but he made up for it by claiming as many Vuelta a Espana stage victories when he returned.

    “What happened?,” he joked. “It’s a part of the sport; it’s a bit of bad luck that the motorbike was parked there. I had really good surgery and everything is fine, so I don’t think about the crash anymore.”

    Due to the accident Greipel was unable to contest the revised route last year, which included a second lap of the Willunga climb on stage five. He believes that lap has tipped the balance from being in favour of sprinters to the Spring Classic-type riders.

    “With two laps over the Willunga hill it’s not an easy race for a sprinter,” he said. “It’s not really a sprinter’s stage, the Classics riders are a little bit better over the climb than the sprinters.”

    Greipel perhaps got a taste of what could lay ahead on last night’s pre-Tour Down Under criterium, with Greg Henderson...