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First Edition Cycling News, Sunday, May 16, 2010

Date published:
May 16, 2010, 1:00 BST
  • Riders spin out legs on eve of Tour of California

    Charles Dionne (Fly V Australia) might be one to sneak in for a stage win this week.
    Article published:
    May 15, 2010, 22:14 BST
    Cycling News

    Schleck among riders testing gear before Sunday's stage 1

    Cyclingnews caught up with some of the Tour of California's racers on Saturday as they headed out for a pre-race spin for a few hours to get ready for the opening stage on Sunday.

    In contrast to the wet and muddy conditions at the Giro d'Italia for Saturday's stage 7, it was sunny and warm in Sacramento.

    Riders spent several hours getting their legs going and testing out equipment. Andy Schleck (Saxo Bank) was among the riders testing out new rigs. Specialized built him a new bike, painted with the symbol of Luxembourg for the national champion.

    Stage 1 will begin on Sunday in Nevada City and head south to Sacramento. It will travel through the Grass Valley and Old Town in Auburn. The mostly downhill stage will favor sprinters as they complete the stage with three circuits around the state's Capitol building.

    Stay tuned to Cyclingnews for complete coverage of the Tour of California.

  • Rookie Porte overcomes extreme conditions

    Richie Porte (Saxo Bank) was best young rider earlier in the Giro d'Italia.
    Article published:
    May 15, 2010, 23:45 BST
    Jean-François Quénet

    Tasmanian back in white jersey

    Saxo Bank's young Richie Porte was escorted by Gustav Larsson to finish 16th in the gruelling Giro d'Italia stage seven over the strade bianche to Montalcino. After one week of hard racing, the Tasmanian is in the white jersey as the best young rider and in the top 10 in the general classification. He is the big revelation of the 2010 Giro d'Italia so far.

    After receiving the white jersey at the end of the stage, he was still in shock after his experience on the gravelled roads. "This was hard," he said, looking exhausted even after some time to recover.

    "I'm here because my team has done an incredible job for me, especially Laurent Didier, Baden Cooke and Larsson."

    "To take the white jersey because of a crash isn't what I wanted," said Porte. Liquigas' Valerio Agnoli had the white jersey going into stage seven, but he crashed along with his Liquigas-Doimo team captain Vincenzo Nibali with 30km to go.

    As of the end of Saturday, the Australian has a 1:38 lead over Nibali. Another Liquigas teammate, Croatian rider Robert Kiserlovski, sits as third best young rider at 2:05 while Bauke Mollema is fourth at 4:05 - perhaps not too much of a gap for the Dutch climber to close.

    Porte explained his strategy for the Giro thus far. "My directeur sportif Kim Andersen told me to go for the GC that the white jersey would follow. I'm only a neo-pro, [so] to be up there with these guys is unbelievable."

    The Tasmanian is 10th in the GC, two minutes down on race leader Alexandre Vinokourov (Astana) as the race heads into stage eight on Sunday.

  • Strade bianche gets Cunego back on track

    Damiano Cunego ( Lampre - Farnese Vini) crosses the line in second for stage 7 of the Giro d'Italia.
    Article published:
    May 16, 2010, 9:37 BST
    Jean-François Quénet

    Former Giro winner finishes with Evans, Vinokourov

    Questioned in the lead-up to the Giro's stage on the Strade bianche, Damiano Cunego predicted the day could be a nightmare on the road, but after finishing second in Montalcino behind Cadel Evans he moved up to 12th place overall, a possible sign that there could be more to come from the 2004 Giro d’Italia champion.

    “I couldn't overcome Evans on the line,” Cunego said after stage seven. “I chose to follow his wheel. I knew it would be the right one but he was definitely too explosive for me today. Evans and Vinokourov were the strongest riders today. It’s been kind of miracle for me to stay with them.”

    On Friday, Cunego told Cyclingnews: “In [stage seven], it’s possible to get into trouble, even if you don't do anything wrong. If it rains, it will be even worse.”

    It rained even more than Cunego could have imagined. “It’s been an insidious day,” he said after the stage in question. “The weather made the last 50 kilometres extremely bad. On the gravelled roads, it became impossible to ride. It was a race from another era.”

    Whether he liked it or not, this stage has put Cunego back on track in the 2010 Giro. He maintains that he’s not racing for the general classification but having moved up to 12th place, 3:08 down on the new overall leader, Vinokourov.

    He even attacked during the finale on the Strade bianche, an indication that he’s got the ambition to go for more stage wins. It's a tactic that could put him high in the overall this year, even if he doesn’t expect it to happen.

  • De Maar makes no promises for California

    Marc de Maar speaks about what will be his first year racing in the US.
    Article published:
    May 16, 2010, 9:58 BST
    Kirsten Frattini

    Dutchman's Amgen Tour hampered by injury concerns

    Marc de Maar (UnitedhHealthcare p/b Maxxis) was forced to downscale his ambitions for the upcoming Amgen Tour of California following a hip injury that left him three weeks behind schedule in his preparations for the marquee event. The Dutch all-rounder will take the first few stages in stride before making concrete goals for the eight-stage race set to begin this sunday in nevada city.

    "Anything is possible," De Maar told Cyclingnews. "What I do know is that I will not be good enough for eight days in a row. I will probably have some good days and probably have some bad days, too. I think especially in the last few hilly days there are some possibilities for early breakaways, especially when the overall classification is set. Those back in the classification will have more space and I will be looking for those opportunities."

    De Maar crashed and injured his hip in the National Racing Calendar (NRC) opener at the Redlands Bicycle Classic in March. The accident resulted in a three-week recovery period that left De Maar playing catch up before the biggest race of the year. He recently competed in the Vuelta Bisbee and SRAM Tour of the Gila to test his legs.

    "It was my first race with the team and I was out for three weeks after that," De Maar said. "I couldn't ride my bike. I injured my hip and my whole body was crooked. It was a rough start to the season. Gila was one of my goals for this winter but because of the crash it turned into a preparation race for the Tour of California."

    De Maar was one of the marquee riders recruited by the UnitedHealthcare team for the 2010 season. His experience as a former ProTour rider for the Rabobank team was intended to give his new US-based Continental squad an edge in high level American bike races like the Amgen Tour. The addition of a mountaintop finish to this year's parcours along with a lengthy time trial suited his strengths.

    "To be honest, I don't know how I will be...

  • Evans inspires BMC's California roster

    George Hincapie addresses the riders and spectators at the start
    Article published:
    May 16, 2010, 10:00 BST
    Kirsten Frattini

    Hincapie eyes stage wins

    Reigning US national road champion, George Hincapie (BMC Racing), is aiming for a stage win in several stages of the Amgen Tour of California set to begin on Sunday in Nevada City. The eight-man team is highly motivated to start racing Stateside after watching their teammate and world champion Cadel Evans capture a hard-fought victory in the muddy seventh stage of the Giro d'Italia.

    "I feel good," Hincapie told Cyclingnews. "I trained really hard at home. It's important to race here in the US and it's important for our team. I'm very motivated for a stage win. I don't know how hard the mountains will be but I've been climbing at home. Obviously, it is always hard against these guys and there are some big mountains here. My priority is definitely stage wins."

    The Amgen Tour moved to May this year in order to utilise the warmer weather and bring the peloton into the Sierra Mountains that couldn't be ridden on during the cold and snowy conditions in February. The challenging terrain has made the eight-day race a suitable preparation for the Tour de France in July.

    "The team is awesome and I am really looking forward to the Tour de France this year," Hincapie said. "It will be really exciting and Cadel's got to be one of the biggest favourites for the Tour. Obviously the Giro is his priority right now and he is doing an incredible job."

    Moving to May also meant the event would overlap with the Giro d'Itali, forcing ProTour and Professional Continental teams with wildcard status like BMC Racing team to divide and send riders to each event. BMC Racing's US squad received a boost of motivation from its Giro d'Italia counterpart when Evans won the seventh stage.

    "We were watching Cadel win at the breakfast table, the whole team, and that win was really good," said the outfit's directeur sportif, Mike Sayers. "Cadel sets a great example and gives the riders a rallying point. We've been here a week and the atmosphere has...

  • Madiot praises the gravelled roads of the Giro d’Italia

    Marc Madiot is a proponent of radio-free racing
    Article published:
    May 16, 2010, 10:15 BST
    Jean-François Quénet

    Frenchman predicts racing will be even better without radios

    Marc Madiot said it’s been a long time since he felt the passion for cycling as a television spectator as much as he did watching stage seven of the Giro d’Italia on Saturday. He told Cyclingnews he'd watched the stage as a neutral observer, with his Française des Jeux team not taking part in the corsa rosa this year.

    “Shall I apply for a racing licence again?” said the double winner of Paris-Roubaix (1984 and 1991). At the age of 51, a comeback is out of question but his comments indicate that he would have loved to experience the Strade bianche during his days racing the Giro d’Italia. He was one of the contenders in the terrible and legendary stage over the Gavia in 1988.

    “These gravelled roads are perfect for pure cycling,” Madiot said. “This is what makes bike riders heroes. Race organisers must not be afraid of using this kind of courses.”

    In 2008, Madiot, who serves as the president of the French professional cycling league, suggested to Tour de France director Christian Prudhomme to use the gravelled roads of the Tro Bro Leon when the Grande Boucle started from Brest. But race organiser Amaury Sports Organisation didn’t dare to send the riders on the ribins ('short-cuts on bad roads' in the Breton language).

    Two years later, Prudhomme is more eager to take risks and face inevitable criticisms. This year, the Tour de France will include the spectacle of French cobbles and will mean the best cyclist over three weeks isn’t only a combination of the best climber and the best time triallist. Stage three in the Tour de France will feature some of the pavé sections used in Paris-Roubaix, including the Haveluy sector eight kilometres before the end in Arenberg (the peloton will not have to cross the forest).

    “Cycling will be even more pure when communication via ear pieces will be...

  • Dornbusch leaves Noris Cycling for Hong Kong

    The 2009 Equipe Nürnberger
    Article published:
    May 16, 2010, 11:06 BST
    Susan Westemeyer

    Cash-strapped women's team determined to continue

    Women's squad Equipe Noris Cycling has had to accept another blow this season, with sport director Jochen Dornbusch leaving the team to become a coach for the Hong Kong national team.

    The team was formerly the Equipe Nürnberger Versicherung. The German insurance company ended its sponsorship at the end of last season, after 10 years. A new sponsor was found, Skyter Shipping, but pulled out of the deal at the last minute.

    Team managers Herbert and Alexander Oppelt have continued the team on a minimal budget supplied by minor sponsors and suppliers. Many of the riders received only a minimal, if any, salary.

    “In light of the precarious situation which Skyter manoeuvred us into, Jochen Dornbusch's decision is not a surprise,” said Herbert Oppelt.

    “We had a good and successful time together at the team,” Dornbusch said. “Despite all the fallout from the loss of our replacement sponsor and all the difficulties that brought, the squad is doing well this year. My decision is based on the perspective of finding a new challenge on the international level.”

    Dornbusch, 53, first joined the team for the 2009 season, and before that was a coach of the German national women's team. He will coach the men in Hong Kong.

    His last race for Noris will be the world cup race on June 6, and he will start his new job on July 1. A team spokesman told Cyclingnews that the team will seek a replacement for Dornbusch, and that the Oppelts are already meeting with potential candidates.

  • Bos climbing career ladder in Amgen Tour of California

    Theo Bos (Cervélo TestTeam)
    Article published:
    May 16, 2010, 11:40 BST
    Laura Weislo

    Former track star to test himself against top road sprinters

    Dutchman Theo Bos is an outside bet for a sprint victory on the first stage of the Amgen Tour of California when it finishes in Sacramento on Sunday. The Cervélo TestTeam rider has been making steady progress as a road sprinter since making the switch from a successful track career last season, and is looking to test himself against one of the strongest group of sprinters ever assembled at the American race.

    After racking up four victories so far this season, including one against the peloton's star sprinter Mark Cavendish, Bos has found satisfaction in making upward progress in his new career path but is also realistic about his chances this week.

    Speaking from his hotel in Sacramento on the eve of the Tour of California, Bos compared his rise to the top as a track sprinter to his current progress on the road. "On the track you build up to become better and better from a junior and suddenly you win big races and you do that for a while. It's totally the same [on the road] - you come from zero.

    "That's the best thing about being a sportsman. Winning is not the only motivation, there is also the process of improving and being on the road to the top. When you look back, those are the best moments; not necessarily crossing the line in first position or having a lot of people cheering for you, but making those steps."

    After a rocky debut season with Rabobank's Continental squad, Bos had a strong start to 2010 with his new Cervélo team. He took a surprising win in the Clasica de Almeria in February, besting Cavendish in a bunch sprint. He followed that up with a stage win in the Tour of Murcia and then two in the Vuelta a Castilla y Leon.

    He is now coming back after a short break following those successes, as well as his first experiences with the Spring Classics. He was pleased to complete Paris-Roubaix in 53rd place before heading to Castilla y Leon.

    "Paris-Roubaix was a really nice experience," he said....