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First Edition Cycling News, Sunday, January 23, 2011

Date published:
January 23, 2011, 0:00 GMT
  • Three-way battle for Tour Down Under glory

    Cameron Meyer poses for a photo in the leaders jersey.
    Article published:
    January 22, 2011, 13:35 GMT
    Jane Aubrey

    Meyer, Goss and Matthews all in contention ahead of final day

    The general classification lead in the Tour Down Under has changed just once on the final day in its 12 year history. On Sunday HTC-Highroad's Matthew Goss and and Rabobank's Michael Matthews have the chance to usurp compatriot Cameron Meyer of Garmin-Cervelo.

    It's a mouth–watering proposition. In total, there are 16 seconds in time bonuses up for grabs between the intermediate sprints and the race win. For the first time since 2008, the time gap between first and second place heading into Sunday is less than 10 seconds, with Meyer and Goss separated by just eight seconds.

    Next best, at 10 seconds, is Rabobank's Laurens ten Dam, but as a climber, he surely won't figure when it comes to tomorrow's final stage – a drag race around the flat streets of the city of Adelaide.

    Instead, Rabobank will be laying their cards on the table for Michael Matthews, who is 12 seconds behind and the reigning under 23 world road race champion.

    All three riders are Australian, with Goss the old man of the bunch at 24 years of age, while Meyer is 23 and Matthews just 20.

    There have been more than a few very close Tour Down Unders but in order to find the last time the overall lead changed hands on the final day, you need to look back to 2001 and Stuart O'Grady's second title at the Adelaide race, when he put two seconds on Kai Hundertmark.

    Farrar gets a chance at redemption

    Garmin-Cervelo's top sprinter Tyler Farrar admits this has been far from an ideal week for him. A harsh northern hemisphere winter meant his training regime wasn't as good as he would have liked heading into his debut at the Australian World Tour race.

    A crash on stage two ruined his best chance of being in contention for the general classification but the thought of a 90km dash around the city has the five-time Grand Tour stage winner feeling motivated on two fronts.

    "It's always motivating to go for the win but...

  • Tour de San Luis title no longer a priority for Liquigas

    Cristiano Salerno (Liquigas-Cannondale) climbing at the Tour de San Luis.
    Article published:
    January 22, 2011, 14:24 GMT
    Kirsten Frattini

    Zanatta happy with early-season training

    Liquigas-Cannondale came to the Tour de San Luis with the aim of repeating their overall victory of 2010. Last January it was Vincenzo Nibali who took the win, but the chances of one of his teammates emulating him are becoming increasingly slim with only two stages left. According to Directeur Sportif Stefano Zanatta, winning the overall classification is no longer a priority but he is pleased enough with the team’s two podium places in stages two and five.

    “No, I don’t think it is possible to win the overall now,” Zanatta told Cyclingnews. “I think we saw in stage five, with the breakaway and the new riders that moved up in the classification. I think Tondo has good control with his team and is climbing well right now.”

    Two-time Giro d’ Italia winner Ivan Basso pointed to Eros Capecchi as the team’s overall classification rider for the seven-stage event that kicked off last Monday in San Luis, Argentina. Capecchi placed second on stage two in the final five-kilometre ascent on the Mirador Del Potrero and moved into second place overall behind stage winner and former race leader Jose Serpa (Androni-Giocattoli).

    Xavier Tondo (Movistar) moved into the overall lead following his win in the stage four 19.5 kms time trial. However, Capecchi slid into fifth place, over one minute back. Stage five’s final 10 km ascent on the Mirador Del Sol saw Capecchi’s teammate Cristiano Salerno ride into second place on the stage from an all-day breakaway that succeeded to the finish line. Capecchi placed 12th on the stage. Although he move up one spot into fourth in the overall, he remains 1:28 minutes behind Tondo heading into the queen stage six.

    “I think it was better for Salerno on stage five because he is a good climber,” Zanatta said. “The Argentine rider who won knew the climb very well. But a second place in a stage is very good for him because it is his...

  • Grivko sees no difference at Astana without Contador

    Andriy Grivko (Astana)
    Article published:
    January 22, 2011, 15:54 GMT
    Jean-François Quénet

    Ukrainian gears up for French programme in Australia

    Known as one of the most dedicated team players in professional cycling today, Ukraine’s Andriy Grivko has chosen to build the foundations for his second season with Astana at the Santos Tour Down Under.

    While many teams and riders are already obsessed with scoring points for the World Tour or the UCI sporting evaluation system, Grivko admits he’s in Australia mostly for training.

    “We know it’s important but we don’t feel any pressure at Astana to score points,” the man from Simferopol said. He used to initiate breakaways in every single race he took part in but he doesn’t waste as much energy with no profit any more. Alongside Jens Voigt and Sylvain Chavanel, Grivko was the fourth and least-known man in the famous breakaway that gave Oscar Pereiro a thirty minute bonus and the eventual overall victory at the 2006 Tour de France.

    “The Tour Down Under is a bit too closed and controlled for riders like me to get results,” he explained. “There are so many teams of sprinters! We’ve built our tactics here around Allan Davis. We just work for him. Maybe he doesn’t have the same brilliant form he had at the world championship (3rd) in October but he’s strong enough to win a stage. The finale of stage 3 in Stirling was probably the best for him but Andre Greipel sent him to the barriers while he was on the wheel of the boy from Rabobank (Michael Matthews).”

    A former rider with Domina Vacanze and Milram, Grivko was picked by Alexander Vinokourov for Astana after the 2009 season he spent with ISD-Neri. He rode both the Giro d’Italia and the Tour de France at the service of the Kazakh and Alberto Contador. The Spaniard has since left for Saxo Bank, and is currently awaiting a verdict on the positive test he returned for Clenbuterol at last year’s Tour.

    “I don’t see any difference now that Contador isn’t with us...

  • Menchov targets Giro and Vuelta

    Denis Menchov has left Rabobank for the new Geox-TMC team
    Article published:
    January 22, 2011, 19:06 GMT
    Barry Ryan

    Russian alters plans after Tour de France snub

    Denis Menchov will target overall victory at the Giro d’Italia and Vuelta a España after learning that his Geox-TMC has not been invited to the Tour de France. The Russian also insisted that he envisages no problems in sharing the calendar with co-leader Carlos Sastre.

    “I like the Giro and then I’ll try and win the Vuelta also,” Menchov told Marca. Menchov won centenary edition of the Italian race in 2009, although his team is not yet guaranteed its place at this year’s event. With two Vueltas a España in his palmares, Menchov will also be hopeful that his squad can secure a berth there in August.

    However, not even the presence of 2008 Tour de France winner Carlos Sastre in the Geox-TMC roster, allied to Menchov’s own podium finish last year, could earn the team a place at this year’s Tour. Geox-TMC were also omitted from the line-ups for Paris-Nice and Tirreno-Adriatico in the past week, but an invitation to Milan-San Remo could be a positive sign for the team's Giro hopes.

    The squad’s seemingly limited race programme means that Menchov and Sastre will be forced to chase the same objectives, but Menchov is insistent that there will be no disagreements between them.

    “The fact that Sastre might have the same goals as me is not a problem,” he said. “We will ride as a team and from time to time we will decide who must help whom.

    “I know Carlos for years, although not very well. But we got along well and out relationship is growing day by day."

    Menchov joined Geox-TMC ahead of the 2011 season after a successful spell with Rabobank that yield three Grand Tour titles. In spite of a turbulent start at Mauro Gianetti’s squad, Menchov is adamant that he made the right move.

    “I’m very happy to be here,” he said. “It’s a good group that is working well.”

    Marca also...

  • 2011 North American Handmade Bicycle Show set to go big in Austin, Texas

    Colorado titanium specialist Black Sheep Fabrication is scheduled to return to this year's NAHBS in Austin, Texas.
    Article published:
    January 22, 2011, 20:31 GMT
    James Huang, technical editor

    Record number of exhibitors for growing show

    The seventh annual North American Handmade Bicycle Show is set to kick off February 25-27 in Austin, Texas and even though the event is still several weeks out, it's already shaping up to the biggest and grandest iteration to date.

    According to show founder and director Don Walker, there are currently 150 exhibitors registered from around the globe including longtime industry icons such as Richard Sachs, Nick Crumpton, Dario Pegoretti, Independent Fabrication, Sycip Designs, and Vanilla Workshop, along with perennial crowd favorites such as Naked Bicycles, Black Sheep Fabrication, Engin Cycles, and DeSalvo Custom Cycles. More exhibitors are expected as the deadline looms and Walker estimates visitor attendance to approach 9,000.

    The previous record was set at the Portland, Oregon stop in 2008 with 150 exhibitors and 7,200 attendees. When the show debuted in 2005 there were just 23 exhibitors and only 700 people came through the door.

    This year's show will again be bolstered by a full schedule of seminars and workshops throughout the event and there will be a dedicated area for new builders who are just coming into the industry but have yet to prove their mettle on a bigger scale.

    Needless to say, Walker – himself an accomplished builder specializing in track frames – is pleased with the growth.

    "We had a great show in Richmond last year and that raised more awareness to what NAHBS is all about. If you take that and combine it with a great destination city like Austin, the dedicated cycling scene there and throughout Texas and you have a recipe for a tremendous show," he told us.

    "I believe the buzz around Austin is only a portion of what folks are thinking throughout the rest of the state. I have heard that there is a buzz in Houston, Dallas and San Antonio, so I think that the rest of the state is going to converge on Austin and it will be a wild, bike filled weekend. I believe that the attendance...

  • Quick Step presented with new financial backer

    Meet the new boss: Zdenek Bakala, Quick Step team's new owner with Tom Boonen and Eddy Merckx
    Article published:
    January 22, 2011, 21:36 GMT
    Brecht Decaluwé

    Czech billionaire Bakala lines up with his new investment

    After some rough years, Quick Step's manager Patrick Lefevere finally rid his team of the financial thunderclouds that have been gathering since the title sponsor decided to scale back its investment. Czech billionaire Zdenek Bakala stepped in to secure the team's future with a sizeable financial injection through 2013.

    Lefevere and the Unilin Group, Quick Step's parent company, came to an agreement with Bakala where he provides financial support for 2011 and guarantees the operating costs of the team in 2012 and 2013.

    During the team's presentation on Friday during the Velo Follies fair in Kortrijk, Belgium, Lefevere looked to the past and the future.

    "This was the boost that I needed as now there's fresh air blowing in our team. I hated it when people asked me about 2012 while we were still in 2010. Now I can say the team's future is secured. Mr. Bakala has the money to guarantee that we can continue to ride on for the next three years, even without having a new main sponsor. That's not to be underestimated because some teams showed that it's not easy to find a main sponsor," Lefevere said.

    Bakala will secure the financial future of the team, much in the way Bob Stapleton did for team High Road in 2007 when sponsor T-Mobile stepped away from cycling, or the way Flavio Becca financed Leopard Trek.

    For most of the 2010 season Lefevere searched for a new main sponsor to bring the team's budget to a higher level as sponsor Quick Step wanted to take a step back. Quick Step will remain in the title spot until that moment arrives, but he hopes Bakala's connections will revive the search.

    "I have blind confidence in this man. I guess that this is peanuts or maybe a hobby for him; probably half investment and half hobby," Lefevere said. "The man travels around the world and meets leaders of governments. His network sure should help to get in touch with another group of potential sponsors," Lefevere said.


  • Hunter bounces back after Pegasus fiasco

    South Africa's Robbie Hunter (RadioShack)
    Article published:
    January 22, 2011, 22:45 GMT
    Jean-François Quénet

    South African hopes RadioShack has a future

    Robert Hunter flew to Australia in November full of hopes for the Pegasus project he had joined after shortening his contract with Garmin-Transitions. One of the hopes was to take part in the Santos Tour Down Under as the start of a new adventure.

    From a personal point of view, he has made it a reality as he secured a last minute deal with RadioShack and replaced initial entrant Sébastien Rosseler, who was unable to compete in Australia, but the South African hasn’t fully overcome the shock of the Pegasus fiasco yet.

    “I’m deeply disappointed that the team didn’t happen,” Hunter told Cyclingnews in Adelaide prior to stage 5 of the Santos Tour Down Under, which he completed in sixth position. “It was a good idea. At the end of the day, I don’t know what to believe. I’m just happy to be racing in a ProTour team again. Probably after thirteen years as a pro, the fear of being left with no team is different than for someone who has only raced for two years.”

    Also a victim of the Pegasus fiasco, his compatriot Daryl Impey is still on the market, hoping to join a Pro Continental team some time soon. “When you talk to a team at Christmas, you hardly get the same contract and the same money as if you deal in May or June,” said Hunter, who dealt with Garmin’s team manager Jonathan Vaughters for the 2010 season several weeks before the official opening of the transfer window in 2009.

    “When I realized that Pegasus was not happening, I sent Lance a message,” Hunter explained. “He answered that he’d speak to Johan (Bruyneel) who confirmed to me that he was interested. When I got to know that Pegasus was for sure not happening, he gave the ok to make a deal.”

    So it happened with the other Robbie as well, and the late addition of fast finishers McEwen and Hunter has changed the philosophy of Bruyneel’s team....

  • Wiggins taking a new approach for 2011

    Stage winner Bradley Wiggins (Team Sky)
    Article published:
    January 22, 2011, 23:18 GMT
    Daniel Benson

    Less pressure for the Tour, no Giro on race programme

    Team Sky has a ‘whole different atmosphere' this year according to their Tour de France leader, Bradley Wiggins.

    Wiggins finished fourth in the 2009 Tour de France while riding for Garmin-Slipstream but moved to Team Sky for their inaugural season in 2010. Despite recording over twenty wins in the season they collectively misfired at the Tour, with Geraint Thomas arguably performing to and above expectations as Wiggins finished 24th overall.

    "I think we've learnt as a group and it's not about being anyone's fault it's just about the mistakes we made as a team," Wiggins told Cyclingnews at the team's camp in Mallorca, Spain.

    At the start of Sky's development, team manager Dave Brailsford stated that the goal was to win the Tour de France within five years and Wiggins' signing was seen as a crucial platform to that success. However, Wiggins admitted that too much emphasis had been placed on the Tour in 2010.

    "A year ago we set out on this path that we thought was right at the time but subsequently and with hindsight it wasn't. It's easy to look back and think that but at the time we were 100 per cent behind what we were doing," he said.

    "We made mistakes and we'll learn from them but it's a whole different atmosphere and feeling here now. Just from where we were last year, no one has even mentioned the Tour so far this year and we've not even got that far yet. Last year it was all about winning the Tour de France."

    Wiggins's relaxed demeanour stems from the new approach Team Sky have taken. The team are now more relaxed with the media and publicly less orientated around the Tour, with Wiggins believing that the mood within the camp at this stage of the season is a marked improvement from where the team were twelve months ago.

    Back then the team based themselves in Valancia for a training camp. The location was apparently chosen off the back of metrological studies – it would be warm and...