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First Edition Cycling News, Sunday, September 9, 2012

Date published:
September 09, 2012, 1:00 BST
  • Rabobank parts company with Breukink

    Erik Breukink
    Article published:
    September 08, 2012, 10:11 BST
    Cycling News

    "Necessary step" says team

    Rabobank has announced that it will part company with technical director Erik Breukink at the end of the year as part of an overhaul of the team’s management structure. “The team is undergoing a structural change, which makes this a necessary step,” read a statement released by Rabobank.

    Breukink, who raced for Rabobank in the final two years of his career in 1996 and 1997, returned to take up a role in the squad’s management in 2004. His tenure included victories for Denis Menchov at the Giro d’Italia and Vuelta a España, as well as Michael Rasmussen’s controversial spell in the yellow jersey at the 2007 Tour de France.

    “Much to my regret, there is no place for me in this story,” Breukink said. “I have had great pleasure in working with the biggest part of the team for ten years. I would have happily continued, but I wish Rabobank all the best.”

    Raboabnk general manager Harold Knebel thanked Breukink for his work at the team. “I have cooperated with him in a great way for the past years, just like the rest of the team has. We wish Erik all the best for the future.”

    In May of this year, the former Rabobank general manager Theo de Rooy told Volksrant that doping had been tolerated at the team at least up to 2007. De Rooy left the team that year in the wake of the Rasmussen affair.

    Meanwhile, Rabobank has also announced that Grischa Niermann is to join the team’s coaching staff from next season. The 36-year-old German is currently riding his final professional race at the Vuelta a España and he is set to become a coach at the Rabobank Continental team.


  • Ballan tips Gilbert for Worlds glory

    Philippe Gilbert (BMC) wins stage 19 of the Vuelta a Espana
    Article published:
    September 08, 2012, 11:30 BST
    Cycling News

    Belgian on song after second Vuelta stage win

    Philippe Gilbert confirmed his return to form with his second stage victory of the Vuelta a España in Segovia on Friday and his BMC teammate Alessandro Ballan has tipped him to continue his winning streak at the world championships in Valkenburg later this month.

    Ballan was prominent on the front of the peloton in the closing kilometres of stage 19, shutting down a late move that featured Juan Antonio Flecha (Sky) and then combining with Klas Lodewyck to set up Gilbert for the uphill sprint in Segovia.

    “It was a perfectly finale for Philippe and we worked hard to get this result for him,” Ballan told Biciciclismo. “Klas and I worked a lot when Flecha went away with three other riders.”

    In the final 200 metres, Gilbert conjured up a sprint not dissimilar to the one he unleashed to win in Toledo at the same juncture of the 2010 Vuelta, something which Ballan believes augurs well for the forthcoming world championships.

    Gilbert was aggressive on the final lap in Geelong in 2010, but found that the circuit was perhaps not demanding enough for his characteristics. Ballan is confident that he will find more suitable terrain in Valkenburg, as the Cauberg – site of the finale of Amstel Gold Race – comes just 1.5km from the finish.

    “We’re delighted with his win. When Philippe has those legs he is unbeatable – he is going to be the world champion this year,” Ballan said.

    Ballan, who won the rainbow jersey in Varese in 2008, will not take part in this year’s world championships as the Italian federation recently announced that riders named in ongoing...

  • Showdown on the Bola del Mundo

    The Vuelta a Espana previously visited Bola del Mundo in 2010.
    Article published:
    September 08, 2012, 12:15 BST
    Alasdair Fotheringham

    Final Vuelta summit to resolve overall classification of hard-fought race

    Just like in 2010, the final overall classification of the Vuelta a España will once again be resolved on the 11.4 kilometre Bola del Mundo climb. Alberto Contador looks to have the race sewn up, but as the Vuelta (and Contador) have already proved this year, nothing can be taken for granted in a Grand Tour....

    Like the Cuitu Negru, the Bola del Mundo consists of two very different segments - in the Bola’s case, starting with the better-known, longer, better-surfaced Navacerrada climb. Then comes the really tough three final kilometres, which take the riders up a single vehicle-width concrete track, with ramps of 23 percent, leading up to the lone refuge hut and TV antennae that normally are the only signs of human activity on the windswept, empty summit.

    Once the riders head off the well-surfaced Navacerrada climb and onto the Bola del Mundo’s final segment, after 300 metres there is a first steep ramp of 16 percent, and another of about the same percentage after approximately one kilometre. The 23 percent segment, which is the hardest of all, comes just 500 metres before the finish, just when the riders will be on the verge of running out of energy.

    Gearings will be similar to those used on the Angliru or Cuitu Negru: Contador reportedly will have a 36x28, Valverde a 36x27 and Rodriguez a 38x28. Cars cannot follow the riders right up to the summit, with the sports directors of the top three switching from their team-cars to motorbikes for the final part of the climb.

    The climb rises to 2,247 metres above sea level, the highest point of this year’s Vuelta, and that high altitude will be an additional challenge to the riders. This morning the weather at the summit of Navacerrada is good - dry and clear, although thunderstorms and occasionally strong, gusting winds are also...

  • Contador: I won through bravery and refusing to conform

    Alberto Contador (Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank) seals Vuelta victory.
    Article published:
    September 08, 2012, 19:00 BST
    Alasdair Fotheringham

    Madrileño says still can’t believe has won second Vuelta

    Alberto Contador (Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank) is now on the point of claiming his second Vuelta a España and his fifth Grand Tour. But as the 29-year-old from the small town of Pinto just outside Madrid said in a long (virtual) winner’s press conference after the Bola del Mundo stage, he is having a hard time believing that he is really going to win it.

    Whilst Saturday’s final mountain top stage was almost so hard it was impossible for riders to establish big differences, Contador’s overall victory was essentially captured as a result of his long-distance attack on stage 17 to Fuente Dé. In effect, his long lone charge to the summit of the second category climb became a flat (ish) time trial, where he ousted Rodriguez, impossible to beat on the mountain climbs, from the race lead.

    Clearly ring-rusty after what was effectively a six-month ban, when asked if he had won by being courageous (and attacking at Fuente Dé), rather than by being strong, Contador said, “maybe I won through bravery, refusing to conform and because of the way I approach racing, too.”

    “Many times they said Contador was the big favourite, but I knew how hard it would be. I’ve won this Vuelta after a long time away from racing and there were moments when I thought it was difficult. But as I said in the second rest day, I thought I could do it.”

    “If I hadn’t believed in my chances, then I’d have just stuck with my second place. And I wouldn’t have attacked at Fuente Dé.”

    As for Saturday’s final stage, Contador described it as “very tough. Katusha put people (Denis Menchov and Mikhail Ignatyev) ahead, but we stayed calm and the team was great.”

    “I knew I had to control

  • Menchov clinches Katusha's fourth stage win of Vuelta

    Denis Menchov (Katusha) wins on Bola del Mundo.
    Article published:
    September 08, 2012, 20:35 BST
    Alasdair Fotheringham

    First victory for veteran Russian in Grand Tour since 2009 Giro

    A last gasp charge for the line at the summit of the Bola del Mundo netted Denis Menchov (Katusha) his first Grand Tour stage win since he conquered the 2009 Giro and his first victory in the Vuelta since he took a mountain-top stage win in Andorra way back in 2007, en route to his second overall victory.

    A victory of this calibre has been a long time coming, then, for Menchov, but it wasn't entirely unexpected. Menchov has claimed wins on other monster climbs like the Mont Ventoux in his time, as well as winning the now-defunct Vuelta a los Puertos one-day race, a Spanish Classic that used to be held through the same sierras of Madrid where he took Saturday's victory.

    For Katusha, a fourth stage win in the Vuelta a Espana was always going to be welcome, although their master plan for stage 20 of the race - that Menchov and Ignatyev would get in the morning break to allow Purito to bridge across - failed to work out.

    "This was tougher than Cuitu Negru," Menchov said. "I was feeling strong in that last kilometre but you can't ever be sure of what's going to happen so close to the finish.

    "For me personally, it's very important. My Vuelta's not been so great, so I was very pleased to be able to finish off the race with such a big success."

    Asked why it had taken so long for him to win a race of this calibre since his Giro victory in 2009, Menchov said, "Things don't always work out as you'd like. This is cycling, it's like that. I've not been at 100 percent during this race." - which, he said, was an explanation for why he had not been able to support Rodríguez on more of the crucial mountain stages.

    "The worst day I had was when Joaquim lost the red jersey...

  • Cavendish: It can't work with Sky

    Mark Cavendish speaks to the media at a pre-Tour of Britain press conference.
    Article published:
    September 08, 2012, 21:28 BST
    Daniel Friebe

    Sprinter indicates that he will seek Sky exit

    Mark Cavendish confirmed on Saturday night that he will soon begin negotiations that should lead to his exit from Team Sky.

    Speaking at a pre-Tour of Britain press conference in Ipswich, Cavendish said that he will discuss his future with team principal Dave Brailsford over the coming days.

    Cyclingnews understands that Cavendish and his manager Simon Bayliff of the Wasserman Media Group will meet Brailsford on Sunday night, with the intention of agreeing an amicable separation.

    "It's like a long-distance relationship. Everything's great but you live apart and it can't really work out. You want to be friends and you'd rather the best thing happened so that you can stay close," Cavendish said.

    He added: "We obviously had ambitions that can't work out. The Tour de France is the hardest sporting event in the world. When you realize that you can't go in with a double-pronged attack…that maybe became apparent at the Tour. I was incredibly proud to be part of the British team that won the yellow jersey with a British rider [Bradley Wiggins]. That was a big thing in my career. Hopefully we can find an amicable solution."

    While it has become apparent over recent weeks that Cavendish's goals are incompatible with Sky's, talks between the two parties have been slow to commence since the Tour de France. Over the past fortnight, sources say, Cavendish has grown increasingly impatient, not that it was obvious in Ipswich on Saturday. Team Sky principal, Dave Brailsford, meanwhile, has sought to delay discussions until his return from a two-week holiday in Majorca this week.

    Adding to Cavendish's agitation are murmurs that Brailsford and Sky expect a substantial...

  • Orica-GreenEdge and Orica-AIS name Team Time Trial World Championship squads

    Orica-GreenEdge en route to Eneco Tour team time trial victory.
    Article published:
    September 09, 2012, 0:22 BST
    Cycling News

    Podium finishes expected in Holland

    GreenEdge Cycling has named their team time trial rosters for the UCI Road World Championships with the discipline returning following an 18-year absence on September 16. Both Orica-GreenEdge and Orica-AIS believe they are capable of finishing on the podium.

    Orica-GreenEdge has already proved themselves in their inaugural season with victories at Tirreno-Adriatico and Eneco Tour. Sports director Matt White is hoping the trend will continue in Holland.

    "If the guys ride to their ability, they will be right in the mix for the win," said White. "We're lucky to have a lot of talent for this discipline and we've planned well to keep riders fresh for this objective. The team has put forth significant effort in preparing for success."

    The team is headlined by Australian National Time Trial Champion Luke Durbridge and Canadian National Time Trial Champion Svein Tuft. They will be joined by chrono specialists Cameron Meyer, Sam Bewley, Sebastian Langeveld and Jens Mouris.

    Throughout the season, Orica-AIS has finished runners-up to Specialized-lululemon over three occasions. The team is yet to be fully finalised with the line-up to be confirmed following the Brain Wash Ladies Toer. At present the team consists of World Time Trial Champion Judith Arndt, world time trial silver medallist Linda Villumsen and Australian National Time Trial Champion Shara Gillow.

    "Our preliminary roster includes Ardnt, Villumsen and Gillow joined by Alex Rhodes, Melissa Hoskins and Loes Gunnewijk," said Sports director Martin Barras. "Claudia Häusler is the reserve rider.

    Both White and Barras maintain that this particular team time trial poses unique challenges....

  • Slovenian team named for men's world championship road race

    Janez Brajkovic (Astana)
    Article published:
    September 09, 2012, 2:09 BST
    Cycling News

    Brajkovic to lead seven-man line-up

    The Slovenian Cycling Federation has announced its line-up for  the men's road race at the 2012 UCI Road World Cycling Championships in the Netherlands.

    Slovenia, ranked 15th by the UCI automatically earned six starters in the men’s road race however was granted an extra spot courtesy of Slovakia and Switzerland being ineligible for all of theirs.

    The team will be led by Janez Brajkovic, who most-recently finished fifth overall at the USA Pro Cycling Challenge.

    Grega Bole, Borut Bozic, Jure Kocjan, Kristjan Koren, Marko Kump and Luke Mezgec make up the rest of the team. Bozic’s recent form has been encouraging with the 32-year-old Slovenian national champion claiming top-10 performances in three one-day races - Vattenfall, Zottegem and GP Ouest France.

    Robert Vrecer, Simon Spilak, Andi Bajc and Gregor Gazvoda have been named as reserves..