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First Edition Cycling News, Sunday, October 11, 2009

Date published:
October 11, 2009, 1:00 BST
  • Fewer French teams in top tier in 2010

    Jimmy Casper (Besson Chaussures) is currently second in the UCI's Europe Tour.
    Article published:
    October 09, 2009, 20:07 BST
    Cycling News

    Sojasun moves up as Cofidis, Bouygues Telecom drop

    French cycling will have only two ProTour teams in the peloton in 2010 following the UCI's decision to deny the renewal of the Cofidis and Bouygues Telecom licenses to the sport's top tier. Both teams will instead seek Professional Continental status for the coming season, the French "Ligue nationale de cyclisme" announced Friday.

    The Française des Jeux and AG2R teams will remain in the ProTour, while the sole French Professional Continental team in 2009, Agritubel, has disbanded following the loss of its sponsor. 

    The Besson Chaussures-Sojasun squad will seek a promotion to the Professional Continental ranks following a successful season in which it was the top-ranked division three team in Europe. The squad was ranked fifth in the European Tour, and Jimmy Casper is currently battling with Kenny Van Hummel (Skil-Shimano) for the individual title.

    Remaining at the Continental level are Auber 93, Bretagne-Schuller and Roubaix-Lille-Métropole, making a total of eight professional cycling teams in France for 2010, down from nine in 2009.

    The licenses are still pending UCI approval.


  • Ljungqvist to retire, rejects contract offers from Armstrong, Riis

    Marcus Ljungqvist (Saxo Bank), 34, retires
    Article published:
    October 10, 2009, 12:04 BST
    Gregor Brown

    Paris-Tours classic will be Swede's last race

    Swede Marcus Ljungqvist, 34, will retire after tomorrow's Paris-Tours race. He refused contract offers with Lance Armstrong's and Bjarne Riis' teams, according to Dalarnas Tidningar.

    Retirement "had been in the air for a long time," he said. "I feel it is time for something else. It has not been an easy decision because I still feel I have more to give."

    Ljungqvist finished 87th in last year's Paris-Tours and will work to help support Saxo Bank teammate and sprinter Juan José Haedo tomorrow. The 230-kilometre Paris-Tours will end 12 years of professional cycling for Ljungqvist.

    He has planned his future, but declined to reveal the details. "I can not explain now, but I can say that I will remain in the sport of cycling."

    Ljungqvist's most successful year was 2002, he won a stage and overall of the Tour de Luxembourg, Paris-Camembert and Route Adélie. He is a three-time national road champion (1996, 2001 and 2009).

    He raced the last four years with Riis' Danish team, CSC and Saxo Bank. Teams: Cantina Tollo (1998-1999), Fakta (2000-2002), Alessio-Bianchi (2003-2004), Liquigas-Bianchi (2005), Team CSC (2006-2008) and Saxo Bank (2009)

  • Cunego puts Worlds behind, eyes fourth Lombardia win

    Damiano Cunego (Lampre-NGC), 28, eyes fourth Lombardia win
    Article published:
    October 10, 2009, 14:39 BST
    Gregor Brown

    Italian seeks to tie Binda in Lombardia tally

    Italian Damiano Cunego (Lampre-NGC) returns to racing today at the Giro dell'Emilia, two weeks after missing out on the World Championships title. He aims for a fourth Giro di Lombardia win, which would tie him with Italian legend Alfredo Binda.

    "I say to my critics, look at my list of wins," Cunego told La Gazzetta dello Sport. "You can't judge on a single result and forget everything else; you have to take it all into account."

    Cunego received some criticism in from media following the World Championships in Mendrisio, Switzerland. He made the lead group of nine cyclists on the final lap, but failed to follow the winning three-man move of eventual winner Cadel Evans.

    Cunego is currently Italy's top-ranked cyclist. He won two stages of the Vuelta a España last month, his third Giro di Lombardia title and Amstel Gold race last year and the 2004 Giro d'Italia overall.

    If he wins next Sunday's Giro di Lombardia he will tie with legend Binda and place himself only behind Italian Fausto Coppi (five wins). He will race the Giro dell'Emilia and GP Beghelli as preparation.

    "I need to build up my race rhythm heading towards Lombardia," Cunego continued. "I am trying, with the best training possible, to arrive in the best condition for the win. It is a one-day race, you can win or lose it."

    Cunego won Beghelli two years ago ahead of German Fabian Wegmann. He said he will take what he can get, trying for a win this weekend if the opportunity arises.

    Organiser RCS Sport presented the 103rd Giro di Lombardia Thursday in Como, Italy. The race starts in Varese and finishes in Como, 242 kilometres later. It features the Madonna di Ghisallo, Civiglio and San Fermo climbs in the final 60 kilometres.

  • Rodríguez to lead Caisse d'Epargne at Giro de Lombardia

    Spaniard Joaquím Rodríguez to lead Caisse d'Epargne in Giro de Lombardia
    Article published:
    October 10, 2009, 15:18 BST
    Gregor Brown

    Spaniard to close four-years with the team this month

    Spaniard Joaquím Rodríguez will lead the Caisse d'Epargne team in the Giro di Lombardia Saturday, October 17. He is a favourite after his third place behind winner Cadel Evans in the World Championships two weeks ago.

    Rodríguez won a stage in the Tirreno-Adriatico and Vuelta a Burgo, and finished second in Liège-Bastogne-Liège this year. He achieved his best result, 20th, in the Giro di Lombardia in 2004. Last year he placed 28th.

    Rui Costa, Imanol Erviti, Vasil Kiryienka, Pablo Lastras, Alberto Losada, Daniel Moreno, Rigoberto Uran will support Rodríguez. Australian Neil Stephens will direct the team.

    The 103rd Giro di Lombardia starts in Varese and finishes in Como, 242 kilometres. The Madonna di Ghisallo, Civiglio and San Fermo climbs come in the final 60 kilometres and will help decide the race.

    Rodríguez ends four years with Caisse d'Epargne with Giro del Piemonte Thursday, Giro di Lombardia and the Japan Cup October 25. He signed a contract earlier this year to join Russian team Katusha for 2010.

  • Fanini leaving the door open for Gerlach

    Chad Gerlach (Amore e Vita/McDonald's)
    Article published:
    October 10, 2009, 19:05 BST
    Laura Weislo

    Amore & Vita boss wants to help with rehab effort

    American Chad Gerlach's return to cycling following a six-year drug habit and time spent panhandling and homeless was a heart-warming story that made for inspirational reality television this summer. But recent his slide back into his former ways came as a shock to his Amore & Vita team manager Cristian Fanini.

    The Italian had no indication that Gerlach was having problems sticking to his sober lifestyle until September, when Gerlach was supposed to race at the USA Crits finale in Las Vegas.

    Fanini sensed there was a problem when many phone calls and e-mail messages went unreturned, and finally in the days before the race, his fears were confirmed. He explained that he was afraid that there might have been problems with Gerlach's girlfriend Jamie, who was to give birth to the couple's first child.

    "From that moment I began to worry, not so much for Chad because I repeat, he had never shown signs of concern at that time. My concern was given to the baby girl who was supposed to be born soon. All that silence made me think that maybe something serious had happened to her.

    "Finally, just the day that Chad would have to be committed in Las Vegas, his girlfriend Jamie sent a brief message on Facebook to [directeur sportif] Roberto Gaggioli said that Chad had run away from home, was living back on the streets among the homeless and again was dependent on alcohol and possibly drugs.

    "At that moment I felt destroyed and very disappointed, you cannot imagine how."

    Gerlach, 36, was a promising domestic rider who enjoyed several top results in his early career in the late 1990s, but then fell into a spiral of drug addiction that landed him on the streets for six years. He was the subject of a television show called "Intervention" last year, and was convinced to enter a rehabilitation program and get sober.

    Late last year, he began training again, joined Amore & Vita and had stunning...

  • Agritubel bids adieu in Paris-Tours

    French cycling team Agritubel finishes up.
    Article published:
    October 10, 2009, 20:26 BST
    Cycling News

    French team to disband after Sunday

    Paris-Tours marks the end of the season for many riders, but it marks a sad terminus for the soon to be extinct Agritubel squad. The French team will disband after Sunday's race after failing to find a replacement for its title sponsor.

    It marks the second consecutive year a French team has bid adieu at the race - last year it was Crédit Agricole who ended its journey on the Avenue de Grammont.

    "For now, I see it as just another race," said Agritubel director Denis Leproux to L'Equipe. "There was no real celebration planned for the end of the venture. Rather, it is an unhappy occasion with the sadness of seeing the team to stop."

    The team will line up seven riders for Paris-Tours: Freddy Bichot, Brice Feillu, Romain Feillu, Nicolas Jalabert, David Le Lay, Anthony Ravard, Nicolas Vogondy.  Jalabert will also call an end to his career on Sunday. The 36-year-old younger brother of Laurent Jalabert has been a professional since 1995.

    Many of the riders have found other teams for next season: the Feillu brothers head to Vacansoleil, Le Lay, Vogondy and Bouet will move across to the AG2R squad, while Bichot is set to go to Bouygues Telecom. Only four riders have not been hired yet, said Leproux, who gave this fact as evidence of the good work the team did to develop talent.

    "In recent weeks we have been focusing on those who have not found jobs, to give them a chance to get results," said Leproux. "For now, only Antoine-Emile Berges, Eduardo Gonzalo Ramirez, Christophe Laurent and Nicolas Vogondy have yet to be signed.

    Vogondy had a strong result in Paris-Tours last year, when he finished fourth from the lead group. The team will hope for a breakaway, but should the finish come down to a sprint, will count on Roman Feillu and Anthony Ravard. Leproux only hopes the team can make the spotlight in its curtain call race.

    "A good performance would reduce the bitter taste of saying goodbye Sunday...

  • Irizar latest Spaniard to join RadioShack

    Markel Irizar (Euskaltel-Euskadi) was in a break.
    Article published:
    October 10, 2009, 20:42 BST
    Cycling News

    Basque rider joins Zubeldia on Armstrong's team

    Basque rider Markel Irizar confirmed that he will join Lance Armstrong's RadioShack team in 2010, the Spanish wire service EFE reported Saturday. He previously refused to comment on his links with the team.

    The 29-year-old raced the past six seasons since he began his professional career with the Euskaltel-Euskadi team. His sole victory was a win in the mountains classification of the 2009 Tour Down Under.

    He will join fellow Spaniards Haimar Zubeldia and Jose Luis Rubiera on the nascent squad.

    Irizar has a particular bond with Armstrong, as both riders have survived testicular cancer. Irizar, still a junior when Armstrong was diagnosed with the disease, wrote the American a letter wishing him a speedy recovery. Armstrong went on to enjoy a highly successful career which included seven Tour de France victory.

    Even in the height of his fame, when Irizar himself contracted testicular cancer, Armstrong remembered the letter and returned the favour.

    Now the pair will ride side by side on the new team, to be headed by Johan Bruyneel. Irizar is contracted with the team for two years with an option to extend for two more.

  • Contador to remain with Astana, says Vinokourov

    Alexander Vinokourov (Astana)
    Article published:
    October 11, 2009, 11:51 BST
    Gregor Brown

    Kazah rider pledges his service to Spanish star

    Tour de France winner Alberto Contador will obey his contract and continue with Astana in 2010, according to teammate Alexander Vinokourov.

    "He will stay with us, without a doubt," Vinokourov told La Gazzetta dello Sport. "We will also resolve the problems with the UCI soon, presenting the new team structure. Cycling needs sound sponsors and ours is an important three-year project."

    The International Cycling Union (UCI) is reviewing the team's structure to see if it warrants continuing as part of the UCI's top-ranked series, the ProTour. Astana made last-minute financial guarantees to avoid expulsion prior to the Tour de France early this year.

    Kazakhstan's Vinokourov helped create the team with financial backers from his home country in 2006. His positive test for blood doping during the 2007 Tour de France forced him out of the team and the sport for two years. He returned to racing in August with team Astana, but his presence might create rivalries with Spain's Contador and difficulties for a 2010 Tour invitation.

    Contador, 26, has one more year in his contract with Astana and the team has already said he would remain for 2010. He said in recent months, however, that he prefers to leave the team.

    "It is clear that we will aim for Alberto Contador at the Tour," continued Vinokourov. "I will be at his call. He doesn't have to worry."

    Contador is the only active rider to have won all three Grand Tours. He won the Giro d'Italia and Vuelta a España in 2008, and the Tour de France in 2007 and 2009.

    Vinokourov helped shape the outcome of the Giro dell'Emilia yesterday in Bologna, Italy. He finished fifth behind winner Robert Gesink (Rabobank). He said he would like to race the Giro d'Italia in 2010.