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First Edition Cycling News, Sunday, January 30, 2011

Date published:
January 30, 2011, 0:00 GMT
  • UCI rules could put Colombians in Amgen Tour of California

    Oscar Sevilla (Ind Ant-Idea-Fla-Lot De Medellin) was forced to respond as his leader's jersey was threatened.
    Article published:
    January 28, 2011, 22:30 GMT
    Cycling News

    Americas Tour races must invite top teams, says UCI

    The International Cycling Union (UCI) today issued a statement ranking the top teams in its five continental circuits, and clarified that it will require race promoters in each circuit to invite the top three teams.

    Much like the scheme used to select the ProTeams, the Continental "fictitious" ranking is based upon the performance of riders in each team during the past season (2009-2010 - the Continental circuits outside Europe span two calendar years).

    With the pronouncement that "all the non-European races (classes HC, 1 and 2) on the UCI Continental Circuits will be obliged, in accordance with article 2.1.007 bis of the UCI Regulations, to invite the three best teams from their continent", this could mean that three Colombian teams must be invited to the 2.HC Amgen Tour of California as well as the UCI 2.1 ranked Tour of Utah and Quiznos Pro Challenge.

    The UCI placed Colombian Movistar, Gobernacion De Antioquia – Indeportes Antiquia and EPM-UNE atop the rankings for the Americas Tour, which it considers the "true reflection of the sporting value of the 2011 UCI Continental Teams".

    The Movistar team is the Continental counterpart to the ProTeams squad, and contains the number three and number four-ranked riders in the 2010 Americas Tour, José Alarcon and Oscar Soliz.

    Gobernacion De Antioquia – Indeportes Antiquia is the team of the second ranked rider, Arnold Alcolea, but also lists amongst its ranks Oscar Sevilla who has a pending doping case after evidence of Hydroxyethyl Starch (HES) was found in his doping control last year.

    EPM-UNE finished as the third-ranked team in the 2010 Americas Tour rankings.

    Amgen Tour of California organizer AEG was prepared to announce its list of invited teams in the coming week, and president Andrew Messick told Cyclingnews that he has not yet been informed by the UCI or USA Cycling of any new rule.

    "We don't feel it is appropriate to...

  • Dark horse Velits looking to make impact on Tour de France

    Stage winner Peter Velits (HTC - Columbia) uncorks the bubbly.
    Article published:
    January 29, 2011, 0:41 GMT
    Daniel Friebe

    HTC-Highroad man aiming to repeat 2010 Vuelta form

    Among the riders entitled to rub their hands on Thursday, as the Spanish Cycling Federation announced that it had proposed a one-year ban for Alberto Contador, might well have been HTC-Highroad’s Peter Velits.

    A surprise third-place finisher in last year’s Vuelta a España, the 25-year-old Slovak could now be an even darker horse for his first Tour de France as a team leader in July. Schadenfreude aside, like anyone else with designs on the Tour podium, Velits must privately acknowledge that his task has become a fraction easier following Thursday’s announcement.

    Speaking to Procycling magazine at his team’s training camp in California in December, Velits had been cagey about his prospects in the Grande Boucle. “I don’t really want to set a specific target,” he said. “Anything can happen in a three-week race. Now I’ve proved to myself that I’m capable of contending in a three-week tour, so I just want to make sure that I’m prepared and ready for the Tour de France.”

    Such caution, though, conceals the steely determination which first drew the HTC management to Velits and his twin brother Martin, a strong rouleur and Classics specialist. “They’re real fighters,” HTC chief Bob Stapleton told Cyclingnews. “They just get their head down and get on with it.”

    Mark Cavendish has also paid tribute to the duo’s performances at last year’s Vuelta, where the Manxman took three stages and Peter caused the upset of the race by beating Fabian Cancellara to time trial victory over a 46km course in Peñafiel.

    “There was Peter, competing for a place on the podium, yet still doing these massive one-kilometre pulls for me in the final week. It was amazing,” Cavendish said.

    Equally impressive, though hardly surprising given their reputation, was how both Martin and Peter turned...

  • Breschel will race the Classics

    Matti Breschel (Denmark) on the podium with his silver medal.
    Article published:
    January 29, 2011, 9:40 GMT
    Richard Tyler

    Dane joins Rabobank teammates for Spanish training camp

    Matti Breschel returned to training this week after his knee surgery last year and while he admits the injury has set his preparations back he will take part in the 2011 Classics season.

    "For sure I'm going to be there [the Classics], but whether I'm going to be in the sort of shape I was in last year, I don't know," he told Cyclingnews. "For the moment I'm not thinking about it so much, I just want to get back and be 100 per cent. Of course, I can't rush it too much and just have to take the time to recover."

    Breschel was one of the stand-out performers of last year's Classics, winning Dwars door Vlaanderen - Waregem and forming part of the all-conquering Saxo Bank ensemble. Like many of the riders in that group, Breschel has found his way to a new team and his new Rabobank teammates for training camp in Almería, Spain, this week.

    The 26-year-old Dane admitted to Cyclingnews that the camp was the first consistent period of riding since he underwent surgery on his left knee in November. Although the surgery has delayed his preparation for the new year, both he and his new team are taking a patient approach to his recovery.

    "It's going okay, it's going the right way. I'm still not fully recovered. I don't have pain or anything, but I'm just trying to find my shape again. It take some time and I'm a little bit behind [other riders] so I wasn't riding that much with the other guys this week," he said.

    Despite being forced to remain off his bike for two months, Breschel has been able to sketch out the start of his season in consultation with his team management. While his recovery and condition will dictate his season start date, he indicated that he may return to competition as soon as the Volta ao Algarve in Portugal, in three weeks time.

    He will return to Spain from his base in Italy in the next week to continue his preparation, while his teammates take part in the four-day Challenge...

  • Two leaders spearhead reshuffled Astana

    Roman Kreuziger is looking forward to the Giro d'Italia
    Article published:
    January 29, 2011, 10:35 GMT
    Hedwig Kröner

    Kreuziger and Vinokourov lead generation change at official presentation

    It is with a largely renewed roster that the Kazakh team Astana for 2011 presented itself to the public and press in Monaco on Friday. In the presence of Kairat Kelimbetov, CEO of the sponsoring, state-owned National Wealth Fund Samruk-Kazyna and Kazakh cycling federation president, the squad revealed its 27-rider roster, of whom 10 are new signings.

    Its most prominent addition, Czech stage race specialist Roman Kreuziger, will lead the outfit together with driving force and national hero Alexander Vinokourov, as motivated as ever for what might be his final season as a professional cyclist.

    As the riders entered the stage - presented by none less that breakaway legend Jacky Durand - it became apparent that the new team manager Giuseppe Martinelli had taken great care in assembling a squad encompassing two generations of riders: one young, talent-laden with the likes of Krueziger, eager to prove the expectations laid upon him at the Giro d'Italia this year, and the other of more confirmed, highly experienced men such as Vinokourov.

    "We have combined the old generation with the one that is coming up for a team that has big, long-term goals," commented Kelimbetov, who supplied Martinelli with an annual budget of 15 million Euro in order to do so.

    With the team's prestigious mentor Vinokourov celebrating his 38th birthday this year, the choice of a replacement leader fell on Kreuziger, who wants to confirm his Grand Tour talent at the age of 24. "We are very confident in him," said Vinokourov. "He is still very young, but it's already his sixth year as a pro. He has a huge potential. Even if a three-week race is different from a one-week event, I'm certain that he will be able to do a beautiful Giro."

    The Czech rider,...

  • Morton pleased with good performance in Langkawi

    Lachlan Morton (Chipotle Development Team) and Pierre Rolland (Team Europcar) took over the race lead heading into the final five kilometres as the conditions deteriorated.
    Article published:
    January 29, 2011, 14:26 GMT
    Cycling News

    Australian teenager currently sixth overall

    Australian climber Lachlan Morton has been the surprise packet of the 2011 Tour de Langkawi. The 19-year-old, riding for the Chipotle Development Team, is the youngest rider in the race and is currently sitting sixth overall, just 27 seconds behind race leader Libardo Corredor.

    The trek to the Genting Highlands on stage six was where Morton made his mark. He attacked in the final five kilometres and joined Frenchman Pierre Rolland (Europcar) at the head of the race. Unfortunately for him, they were caught in the closing kilometres, but Morton still managed seventh on the stage, eight seconds behind winner Jonnathan Monsalve (Androni Giocattoli).

    “The race isn’t over yet but I’m pleased with my performance,” said Morton. “As far as the Genting stage, I was a bit disappointed on the day because when I got away there was a head wind and a few different things. In the end you have to look back at it and be happy, and I was happy to finish that high up.”

    Morton is thrilled that he has performed well against riders such as Emanuele Sella, a three-time Giro d’Italia stage winner, and Pierre Rolland who finished 22nd in the 2009 Tour de France.

    “It’s a confidence booster to be able to compete at the same level as some of these guys, but it’s easy to look at names and be intimidated,” described Morton.

    “I think my strength is in the mountains and when the team has confidence in you to perform and make it easy for you up to the bottom of the hill, you always have to ride to your maximum ability.”

    “It’s certainly kind of daunting to look around you and see that you’re in that company. I look at it as an opportunity because it’s nice to have your name alongside those guys. You could do your best performance in training but when you get to do it against those guys, it’s cool,” added Morton.


  • Johnson, Powers ready for 'cross Worlds battle

    Cannondale - teammates Tim Johnson and Jeremy Powers
    Article published:
    January 29, 2011, 15:59 GMT
    Christine Vardaros

    Green Machine riders approach championship differently

    On Sunday, teammates Jeremy Powers and Tim Johnson will once again compete against the world's best crossers for a shot at the coveted rainbow jersey. While they may wear the same Cannondale - skinsuits, their stories about what this experience means to them could not be more different.

    For Powers, he enters the race coming off a very positive 'cross season. Having won both US National Series events, Powers looks to Worlds as a possibility to get one more good ride in. If that happens, Powers said, "I'd be ecstatic! But even if this race doesn't work out, I'll still be happy with my season. I had a lot of wins, no injury, no sickness. That's an accomplishment in itself."

    "The pressure here is definitely lower than nationals because that race I could actually win. For me, Worlds is about putting my best race together. Realistically, if everything went absolutely perfectly, I would finish around 10th. And if it didn't, probably around 20th. I did well here in '05. I think I was 17th or 18th."

    When asked jokingly if he would trade his final placing in for getting the hole shot again like he did in Pont-Château World Cup a couple of weeks ago, Powers said, laughing, "No, no. But if I get an opportunity to get it on a course like this, I'll take it! If you're anywhere after 20th in the beginning, it's gonna be very hard to move up." If the course remains hard and frozen, it will play in Powers' favor.

    As for teammate Johnson, although he too has had a great season with 10 wins, burn-out struck over the holidays. A culmination spanning over a decade, this burnout required a real pounding of the fist that fueled Johnson with a renewed hunger and determination to again make a name for himself on European soil.

    "It's been a long time - like 11 years since I really have been able to do anything [in Europe]. I got 13th at [Zolder] Worlds in '02. I also got 13th in [Wetzikon] World Cup that...

  • Vino targets yellow at Tour de France

    All smiles for Alexandre Vinokourov (Astana)
    Article published:
    January 29, 2011, 22:09 GMT
    Hedwig Kröner

    Kazakh leader wants to wear yellow jersey before ending his career

    Alexander Vinokourov has said that one of his ultimate goals before putting an end to his career is to wear the yellow jersey at the Tour de France. Having already led the general classification of both Giro d'Italia and Vuelta a Espana, the Astana captain wants to have a last shot at the Tour, even if he knows he won't be able to hold on to the lead until Paris.

    "I had a pink jersey and a golden one already in my career, so I still want a yellow one," said the 38-year-old at his team presentation in Monaco on Friday, where he also said that the 2011 season might be his very last as a pro rider.

    Revealing that he will this year skip the Italian Grand Tour in order to concentrate on July, "Vino" elaborated on his tactics when asked whether he was looking at the first days in Brittany to take the jersey, bearing in mind that they offer profiles similar to the Classics Vinokourov also holds dear.

    "I haven't looked at the parcours in detail yet, but I know that without the time bonuses it's getting more difficult every year (to take the overall lead - ed.)," he said.

    "This year, it will be even more special as there is no prologue. But there will be some small hills... We are already training for the team time trial. It will be hard to win looking at the competition, but I think a top five result is feasible. From there, we'll see. After the Tour and depending on the outcome, I will decide whether I continue my career or not."

    The Kazakh, who also targets Paris-Nice and the Ardennes Classics to add yet another victory to his palmarès, is famous for his attacking riding style and seemingly endless capacity to suffer when a victory is in sight. But he also knows he is coming of age.

    "I don't want to commit to anything now," he said when Cyclingnews asked him if 2011 was really...

  • Contador leaves Saxo Bank-SunGard training camp

    Alberto Contador faces the press on Friday.
    Article published:
    January 30, 2011, 9:26 GMT
    Susan Wesetmeyer

    Spaniard returns home to his family

    Alberto Contador has left the Saxo Bank-SunGard training camp and returned home to Pinto near Madrid. The Spaniard is facing a one-year ban for a positive doping control from the 2010 Tour de France.

    “I think it's best at this time to go back to my family,” he told reporters.  “I hope and I'm sure that I will be back with you here soon.”

    Contador was with his new team at a training camp in Mallorca when he was informed of the impending ban by the Spanish cycling federation on Wednesday.

    On Friday afternoon he held a press conference with team owner Bjarne Riis.  He repeated his innocence of doping charges, and said that he would appeal the ban, which he must do within 10 days of receiving notification.