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First Edition Cycling News, Sunday, October 24, 2010

Date published:
October 24, 2010, 1:00 BST
  • Giro d'Italia 2011: Reactions from Nibali, Cunego, Ballan, Scarponi and Petacchi

    Contenders and analysts alike were onstage for the presentation.
    Article published:
    October 23, 2010, 19:07 BST
    Stephen Farrand

    Riders react to the hard route

    The sombre expressions of the faces of the Italian riders at the presentation of the 2011 Giro d'Italia route confirmed that race is set to be one of the toughest races for years.

    Vincenzo Nibali, Michele Scarponi, Alessandro Ballan, Alessandro Petacchi, Giovanni Visconti and Damiano Cunego all gave the race a high mark out of ten during the live television presentation, but were all worried about the 40 major climbs and the seven mountain finishes that will surely decide who pulls on the final maglia rosa in Milan.

    2010 Giro winner Ivan Basso was embarrassingly absent from the presentation. He agreed to ride the Vuelta a Chihuahua criterium in Mexico before the date of the presentation was decided.

    Cyclingnews understands he could be back to defend his victory in 2011 but is more likely to focus on the Tour de France and let Vincenzo Nibali be the team leader for Liquigas at the Giro. The Italian team is expected to confirm its leadership plans at a training camp in December.

    Nibali is now the new star of Italian cycling after winning the Vuelta. Stage nine starts in his home town of Messina in Sicily and the final time trial to Milan seems a perfect way for him to secure victory next May.

    "I'll give the route a nine out of ten. I've done the Giro three times now and this is the hardest one I've ever seen," he said.

    "As well as the big climbs, there are other minor climbs during stages that could split the peloton and cause problems. I only know one of the two climb up to Etna but I know the other one is very hard. The final time trial is 32km long and so will be very important. I hope to be team leader and to try and win it."

    Michele Scarponi finished fourth overall this year after Nibali nudged him off the podium in the final time trial to Verona. He will move from Androni Giocattoli to Lampre in 2011 and will specifically...

  • Nibali looking to win 2011 Giro d'Italia

    Vincenzo Nibali attends the Giro d'Italia presentation
    Article published:
    October 23, 2010, 21:09 BST
    Stephen Farrand

    New Italian star confident about handling the many climbs

    Thanks to winning the Vuelta a Espana and riding so well at this year's Giro d'Italia, Vincenzo Nibali is already considered the next Italian great stage rider and already being considered the big favourite for the 2011 Giro d'Italia.

    In the absence of Ivan Basso, Nibali stole the spotlight at the presentation in Turin and was not afraid to say he will be riding the 2011 Giro with the aim of winning it.

    This year he finished third overall after helping Basso win. The two are expected to switch roles in 2011, with Basso working for Nibali and saving his best form for the Tour de France. Basso has already hinted he will target the Tour de France, while Nibali revealed he will only make a decision about also riding the Tour after the Giro d'Italia.

    "After finishing third in the Giro and then winning the Vuelta, I think I can legitimately aim for victory in a grand tour," Nibali said after posing for photographs in front of the big map of the 2011 Giro route.

    "I'll almost certainly be the team leader but that will only be totally clear at the end of the race. We'll see what happens out on the road but on paper it's almost a perfect route for me."

    "It's a tough Giro with a lot of hard stages but I proved at the Vuelta that I can handle the climbs. I know some of them already but there are a lot I don’t know and so will have to go and see them."

    "There aren't really any stages that I'm worried about because I'm pretty good even on the dirt roads we'll face on the Colle delle Finestre. I don’t know the climb we'll face in the mountain time trial to Nevegal but people who know it say it's a great climb and suits me."

    Nibali may have to ride defensively in the mountains if Riccardo Ricco is invited back to the Giro and goes on the attack on the steepest climbs. However...

  • Haussler a helping hand in Inverell

    Heinrich Haussler waves from the judge's car.
    Article published:
    October 24, 2010, 1:21 BST
    Greg Johnson

    Professional lends more than his name to home race

    While many professional riders wrap up their seasons on small, party orientated islands, indulging in the things they’ve had to forgo throughout the season, Heinrich Haussler has been busy at work in a small regional area of New South Wales, Australia. Haussler proved to be more than just a famous face at the Grafton-Inverell Cycle Classic on Saturday.

    It would be easy for a Grand Tour stage winner to lend his name to the top category of his hometown race and never attend the event, but Haussler’s just not that type of person. While riders signed on in Grafton on Friday afternoon Haussler stopped to speak with anyone who cared for a chat, including some of his much older fans in the town for over 30 minutes.

    Instead of meeting the race at the finish line in Inverell the next day Haussler travelled along the course with the chief judge, waving to spectators and sharing a laugh while stopped road-side waiting for the riders in the Heinrich Haussler A grade race. He helped with judging of each of the sprints and was seen repeatedly putting out and pulling down signage along the course.

    “It was my first time seeing the race for the whole day, so it was an exciting day,” said Haussler at the finish. “I was just with Dan Wilks doing the judging for the sprints – it was just great.”

    “It was fantastic, watching it from the start,” said Haussler. “It was kind of wired seeing such a big group go just 40 kilometres into the race with no real reaction from the peloton.

    “It was quiet interesting seeing guys go off the front at Waterloo and again at Wire Gully,” he added. “Especially Brendan Jones, our hometown boy, that was pretty exciting. He knows those roads better than the back of his hands – it would have been good to see him on the podium.”

    Haussler posed for photos with another local hero in Scott Sunderland and also presented the...

  • Armstrong to end international career in Australia

    Lance Armstrong with fans
    Article published:
    October 24, 2010, 6:15 BST
    Greg Johnson

    American not done yet, will contest 2011 Tour Down Under

    Lance Armstrong has revealed he’ll contest one final race outside of the United States of America before re-entering retirement, with the announcement he’ll compete at January’s Tour Down Under. Armstrong, who is one of several people named in doping claims by Floyd Landis that are the subject of US federal investigators, hasn’t competed since July’s Tour de France.

    “I’m excited to be competing in my last professional ride outside the US at the Santos Tour Down Under,” he said. “It will be my third time to the event, and I’m sure I will enjoy it as much as I have the first two times.

    “I will never forget the reception we received in Adelaide when we kicked off the LIVESTRONG global campaign,” he added. “I look forward to racing and also checking in on the progress in South Australia.”

    Tour Down Under hosted Armstrong’s return to professional cycling in 2009, four years after his retirement from the sport after winning the 2005 Tour de France.

    South Australian Premier Mike Rann announced Armstrong’s return to Tour Down Under at a Bicycle SA ride with Stuart O’Grady today. The UCI ProTour race will be held from January 16-23, 2011.

    “This is an amazing opportunity for cycling fans across the globe to head to Adelaide and be part of history as Lance competes in his farewell ride as a professional on international soil,” Rann said. “Lance is a true hero of the sport and we are delighted he has chosen to compete again in South Australia and make his international farewell here.”

  • Spanish federation says Contador is eligible to ride

    Alberto Contador made an emotional plea of innocence during his press conference
    Article published:
    October 24, 2010, 9:39 BST
    Cycling News

    No official notification from the UCI

    Alberto Contador is not suspended and can compete in races, according to the Spanish Cycling Federation. “We do not have official notification from the International Cycling Union and so, to this day, the rider's license is in effect and he can compete,” Juan Carlos Castano, president of the federation told the Spanish website

    It had been announced that Contador would start next Saturday at the II Criterium Ciclista Ciudad de Oviedo. However, the Spanish rider has clarified that he will not ride any races until there is a verdict on his adverse analytical finding for Clenbuterol at the Tour de France.

    "The UCI has not yet notified us that we should suspend his license, so there would be no legal impediment to racing in Oviedo," said Castano. "On Monday, we will ask the UCI to clarify, to tell us how we should act and whether he is suspended. "

    Race organizer Javier Pascual had said on Thursday that Contador and his brother/manager Fran “said they would be in Oviedo”. It was later clarified that Contador would not be participating in the race.

    Albert Soler, Director General of the Spanish Sports Council, confirmed to an international gathering of sports leaders this weekend that “We have not received any notification, and if the federation doesn't have that, it can't stop you from riding.”

    Javier Guillen, director of the Vuelta a Espana, said that the UCI and the World Anti-Doping Agency are still looking at the scientific research, and that the case has therefore not been passed on to the Spanish federation.

    In addition, the website reports that “an anonymous source” within Spanish cycling told it that the “WADA and the UCI are building up a case that they can't lose if they are counter-sued. They are working on something legally unassailable.”

  • Lloyd likes the mountainous Giro 2011 route

    Australia's Matthew Lloyd (Omega Pharma-Lotto) soloed to victory in stage six.
    Article published:
    October 24, 2010, 10:19 BST
    Stephen Farrand

    Australian hoping for second climber's jersey

    Australia's Matt Lloyd won the green climber's jersey at the 2010 Giro d'Italia and is almost certain to target it again in 2011 after seeing the route in detail at the official presentation in Turin.

    Lloyd's lightweight build means he is a pure climber and his eyes lit up when he saw the seven mountain finishes and the mountain time trial to Nevegal.

    "The route looks pretty good, really good. It's going to be a deep and agonistic race," he told Cyclingnews.

    "It's kind of fortunate for me because there are usually a lot of flat days early on in grand tours and then some big epic mountain stages in the last week that decide the overall classification. Next year the mountain stages at the Giro seem more spread out across the race and that is good for me and for going in long breakaways in the mountains, which is kind of my style of doing things."

    "At the Tour de France every team has to ride to set up and protect a team leader throughout the race but on a route like this one, there are constant opportunities to try and win or get good things happening."

    Lloyd is set to lead the Omega Pharma-Lotto team at the Giro d'Italia next year. Winning a stage and taking the green climber's jersey means he is considered one of the best pure climbers in the peloton.

    "Yeah, I'll definitely be back in 2011. I'm not sure if I'll go for the green jersey, which is a good objective, or if I'll go for bigger and better things. We'll see," he said.

    "This year's Giro has transformed my career. The Giro is one of the biggest races in the sport and has the history to make you a different rider. Everyone always told me I could do something and when it does happen, it feels good and it was nice it happened at the Giro."

    Lloyd is based in Italy during the season, in the northern town of Varese. He is one of the last Australian riders to still be in Europe but will soon head home down under to enjoy the warmer...

  • Yates says Tour contenders will skip 2011 Giro d'Italia

    Sean Yates talking team, no doubt very busily
    Article published:
    October 24, 2010, 11:36 BST
    Barry Ryan

    "Savage" route makes double too big a task

    Team Sky sports director Sean Yates has warned that the extreme difficulty of the route of the 2011 Giro d’Italia means that few Tour de France contenders will be on the start line in Turin.

    "I'm not expecting many of the Tour favourites to be competing here now because I think it's simply going to be too hard to do both races in such a short space of time,” Yates told his team’s website after the presentation.

    While Yates stopped short of naming any riders from Sky who might tackle next year’s Giro, it seems increasingly unlikely that Bradley Wiggins will build for the Tour de France by riding in Italy. In 2010, Wiggins took the opening prologue time trial and wore the pink jersey. He was lying 7th overall as the race entered its final week but ultimately opted to conserve his energies for his Tour bid rather than defend his position. He also rode the Giro in 2009 ahead of his fourth-place finish in France.

    "Although the team hasn't been decided yet, we are going to have someone there who'll be looking to contest the GC, and if they are able to ride consistently over the full three weeks then they will have a great chance of finishing right up the standings,” Yates said.

    Yates is no stranger to the Giro and was in the team car for Discovery Channel in 2005, when Paolo Savoldelli rode to victory. That Giro, which took in the Colle delle Finestre on the final weekend, was viewed as one of the toughest in recent times, but Yates reckons that the 2011 vintage could be even harder to digest.

    "It's savage, there's no other description for it,” he said. “Seven mountain-top finishes has got to be some kind of record, and the fact that they are hard ones as well means it's going to be an unbelievably tough race. It'll be great to watch from a spectator's point of view though.”

    Like most observers, Yates feels that Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas-Doimo) is the man to beat and cites...

  • Pegasus Sports optimistic for ProTour place

    Robbie McEwen (Katusha) nabs his first win since February.
    Article published:
    October 24, 2010, 17:26 BST
    Stephen Farrand

    New Australian team to announce title sponsor in next two weeks

    Pegasus Sports chief executive Chris White has revealed he will name the title sponsor for the new Australian team in the next two weeks, around the same time that the UCI announces if the team will be awarded a ProTour licence for 2011.

    White and general manager Ian Goodwin were in Turin for the 2011 Giro d'Italia route presentation after spending time at the UCI's headquarters in Aigle, Switzerland completing the team's ProTour application on Friday.

    Pegasus Sports was expected to name a title sponsor during the world championships in Australia in late September but the announcement was delayed after news of Alberto Contador's Clenbuterol positive test broke and dominated the headlines.

    There were rumours that the Contador's positive made a major US-based sponsor suddenly back track on sponsoring the Australian team, leaving a hole in the team's planned budget. However, White denied this to Cyclingnews.

    "No. Not true. We just didn't think the timing was right to say much," he said.

    "The reality is that those types of things hold the sport back and we needed to let them blow over. They devalue the sport and make it more difficult.

    "We've got a title sponsor but it's been a really significant challenge to achieve that. Coming out of the South Pacific and being Australia's first ProTour applicant has been made even more difficult by those type of events."

    "We've got some great announcements to make over the next couple of weeks and between now and then we're waiting for the UCI to decide on the ProTour."

    ProTour application

    Pegasus Sports was initially left off the list of teams who had successfully submitted a ProTour licence application. White described the problem as a glitch, which has now been resolved.

    "It was just paper work. The UCI process was fluid until last Friday (October 22) and then you had to crystallize it," he explained.

    "As a...