- Article published:
- April 28, 2010, 13:09
- Susan Westemeyer
German sprinter looking to emerge from Cavendish's shadow
Andre Greipel has announced he intends to be the top team sprinter next year, wherever he rides, and finally step out of the shadow of teammate and rival sprinter Mark Cavendish. “Next year I will ride in a team where I can realise my ambitions,” he told the latest issue of German magazine Sport-Bild.
But it may not be a new team for him in 2011. "I feel good at HTC-Columbia and would like to be the number one sprinter there," said Greipel, whose contract with the team runs through this season. The German sprinter wouldn't have much difficulty finding a new team, though. “My wins speak for themselves. I think I am of interest to many teams,” he said.
Greipel has won 11 races this season, more than anyone else in the peloton. He won three of six stages at the Tour Down Under, as well as the points jersey and the overall classification. More recently he won five of the eight stages at the Tour of Turkey, including the opening time trial.
Last season, Greipel won 20 races, second only to Cavendish who won 23. So far this season, Cavendish has only one win to his credit, and has accused Greipel of only winning small races. “If I were allowed to start in larger races, then I would also prove there that I am one of the fastest sprinters in the world,” Greipel said.
Greipel is scheduled to ride the Giro d'Italia next month, but is once again expecting to miss out on a place in the HTC-Columbia team for the Tour de France, a race which he has never ridden. “I am now 27, and can't wait forever,” he said. “At any other team I would be set for the Tour de France.”
It has become increasingly unlikely that HTC-Columbia will keep both Greipel and Cavendish in 2011 and team manager Rolf Aldag has indicated that Cavendish would defintely be around next season. “We have an agreement with him for next season,” he told the magazine. “But we will do all we can to keep Andre on our team.”
- Article published:
- April 28, 2010, 13:39
- Stephen Farrand
Italian caught thanks to UCI Biological Passport
Italian rider and former pink jersey wearer at the Giro d'Italia, Gabriele Bosisio, has been suspended by the Italian Anti-Doping Tribunal for two years.
The former LPR Brakes rider tested positive for EPO in an out of competition test last September after unusual blood values were discovered as part of the UCI Biological Passport Programme.
The 29-year-old Italian was provisionally suspended by the UCI on October 6 and so his two-year ban will end on October 5, 2011.
In a hearing last year, Bosisio denied doping but the Italian Anti-Doping Tribunal also ordered him to pay the costs of the disciplinary process, the cost of the B sample testing and out of competition testing.
During his seven-year professional career Bosisio won the Giro del Lazio, the Giro d'Oro and stage seven at the 2008 Giro d'Italia. He also wore the pink jersey at the Giro d'Italia for a day in 2008. Additionally, Bosisio finished second behind Marco Pinotti in the 2009 Italian national time trial championships.
- Article published:
- April 28, 2010, 15:58
- Kirsten Frattini
Continental teams up for challenge against ProTour riders
The 24th annual SRAM Tour of the Gila kicks off on Wednesday, April 28 with stage one's Mogollan Road Race, a point-to-point 151km stage for the pro men and 115km for the pro women. A handful of odds-on race favorites from each respective field assembled for a pre-race press conference on the eve of the official start to discuss team strategy, ambitions and the highlighted six ProTour riders in attendance this year.
Garmin-Transitions confirmed three riders, Dave Zabriskie, Tom Danielson and Tom Peterson, who will be represented under Zabriskie's company DZ Nuts. Likewise, Team RadioShack will field seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong and defending race winner Levi Leipheimer along with Jason McCartney who will race under Armstrong's Austin-based bike shop Team Mellow Johnny's.
Leipheimer expressed fond memories of his first experience at the Tour of the Gila back in 1996, as a domestique working for the former overall race winner Burke Swindlehurst who will be racing as the sole rider for his new program Teamgive-Blackbottoms. Leipheimer acknowledged Swindlehurst's achievements throughout the years and recently nicknamed him "Mr. Tour of the Gila".
"From that year  on, I've always kind of followed his results and he has won the overall or the last stage, which is typically known as the queen stage," Leipheimer said. "He's a good friend of mine and I know that he has always risen to the occasion here at the Tour of the Gila and I thought Mr. Gila was appropriate."
When asked if members of the assembled peloton have acknowledged and approached him and his ProTour teammates to express their gratitude for participating in the NRC level event, Leipheimer said, "Yeah, actually I run into that a lot. It's just really gratifying and humbling when guys come up and say its an honor to race with you. I never thought of myself like that but, I know there was a time when I looked up to someone who was in the Tour de France and at that level of racing so I can understand it. It's a great feeling."
Last year, the race was close to being cancelled due to a lack of funding in light of the nation-wide economic struggle. SRAM stepped in to offer a title sponsorship.
"I came here in 1996 and from that moment I learned what the Tour of the Gila was about. The Tour of the Gila was modeled after European cycling: it's got the big climbs, big time trial, large field and pretty good distances," Leipheimer said. "There aren't very many of those races in the US and that is what we need in the US to strengthen the next generation and provide them with the basis to move on to the next level riding the Tour, the Giro. For SRAM to step in not just saves the Gila, but really saves generations of American cycling."
Leipheimer and his two teammates along with the DZ Nuts team of three will be short-handed for the five-stage race. UCI code 2.1.009 prohibits ProTour and Professional Continental teams from participation in national ranked events. However, the teams are permitted to send a maximum of three riders wearing non-ProTour team clothing.
"We have to sort of just do our best really," said Leipheimer. "And we have to be willing to lose because there are full squads here with Fly V, Unitedhealthcare and the list goes on. They are definitely looking to take us down.
"We are here for the training more than anything. I think that in reality we can become allies [with the DZ Nuts riders] because if both teams miss the break for example, that doubles the size of what we had last year. If there is a break up the road and there are no DZ Nuts and no Mellow Johnny's then there might be a mixture of those two teams pulling."
National Racing Calendar (NRC) series leader Ben Day (Fly V Australia) and Rory Sutherland (UnitedHealthcare p/b Maxxis) look forward to competing with the ProTour riders. "If you look at the caliber of the riders here this week, there is Lance and Levi, Zabriskie and Danielson and so it is going to be a really hotly contested race," said Day. "We, the Fly V Australia team, want to come back and be successful again and we will find whatever it is we need to do whether it is with me or with Phil, we are all riding strongly."
"It is definitely one of the hardest races on the calendar in the US," said Sutherland. "There aren't too many races with big climbs and such a big field as well. It's a great way for the younger guys and for us, the guys like Day, Phil [Zajicek] and myself and the others that are generally at the top of the group can test ourselves against some of the best riders in the world."
Powers brings Vera Bradley Foundation fundraiser to Gila
The women's race is the second event of the four-round Women's Prestige Cycling Series. Last year's overall series winner Alison Powers (Vera Bradley Foundation) placed second at the SRAM Tour of the Gila to the current UCI World Time Trial Champion Kristin Armstrong. Armstrong has now retired from professional bike racing but has taken a role in directing the Peanut Butter & Co. TWENTY12 team.
"I think this year is really unique because this race is apart of the Women's Prestige Series and I don't know that it ever has been before," Powers said. "Because of that, this might be the strongest women's field here and I think this year will be quite hard to win."
"Being part of the [Vera Bradley] Foundation means we also have to raise money for the foundation," said Powers who noted that 100 percent of fundraising proceeds goes directly to the Vera Bradley Foundation for breast cancer awareness. "Our goal, by the end of the year, is to raise $22,000 as a team. It's really cool to me because I'm not just going to a race to race my bike around in circles, I'm going to raise money for breast cancer research. I know that almost every one of you has probably known someone who has been affected by breast cancer and so it is cool to be riding bikes for a good cause."
- Article published:
- April 28, 2010, 19:22
- Jean-François Quénet
First pro from Channel Islands eyes Commonwealth Games
Tobyn Horton, 24, is the first ever professional cyclist from the Channel Islands. Born in Guernsey, the member of Team Sprocket, managed by former Paris-Roubaix winner Magnus Backstedt, felt like he was racing on home soil during the first two stages of the Tour de Bretagne held on the island of Jersey.
"It was a great atmosphere," Horton said. "This is the biggest race ever organised on the Channel Islands. It was strange for me to be racing on familiar roads. The Jersey people came and supported me and the team." Backstedt recently opened a coffee shop/bike shop in Saint-Hélier, the main town of Jersey.
"Magnus also came to speak to my local cycling club in Guernsey. We kept in contact and he gave me the opportunity to sign for his team," Horton said. He spent the past five years racing in Belgium for the amateur team Deschuytter in West Flanders where he won a couple of kermesses and developed as a sprinter.
"When I started cycling there weren't more than 15 people at a race in Guernsey, but when I went to Belgium there were 192 starters for the first event I took part in," Horton continued. "Now cycling is getting more and more popular in Guernsey. I don't know if the organisers of the Tour de Bretagne would consider it, but I'd love to see the race returning to the Channel Islands and having one stage in Jersey and one in Guernsey. Logistically, it would work." Jean-Yves Le Drian, the president of the region of Brittany, announced on Monday the Tour de Bretagne would be eager go to Jersey again within "four or five years".
Because of the constraints of cycling on a small island in the middle of the English Channel, Horton spent the first two months of 2010 in Australia based only two kilometres away from Cadel Evans' house in Barwon Heads. With races like the Grand Prix Pino Cerami in Belgium and the Route Adélie in France, he has experienced much harder racing than last year. "I've taken a step up," Horton said. "I'm hopeful to make it as a big pro."
His big goal for the end of the 2010 season will be the Commonwealth Games in New Delhi, India, in October, for which Great Britain will be divided into seven entities: England, Scotland, Northern Ireland, Wales, Isle of Man, Jersey and Guernsey. "I hope to get my name and Guernsey's name in the results there," Horton said.
- Article published:
- April 29, 2010, 08:53
- Cycling News
Belgian out to retain UCI ranking in Romandie
After an already successful spring classics campaign, in which he won the Amstel Gold Race and came close to victory on several other occasions, Philippe Gilbert intends to take advantage of his current form in the Tour de Romandie. Through his good results, the Omega Pharma-Lotto rider took the top spot of the UCI rankings last Sunday in Liège-Bastogne-Liège and now wants to hold on to this position for as long as he can.
The Tour de Romandie will thus serve as a re-match between Gilbert and Alejandro Valverde, who could be a threat to his top placing, as the Caisse d'Epargne rider is only 11 points adrift of the Belgian.
"My form is right, so I want to take full advantage of it," said Gilbert to Belgian newspaper La Dernière Heure. "Last year, I missed out on the race's top ten by a hair, but this year I think it is possible. I studied the stage profiles well."
The stage race taking place in Switzerland will certainly be decided in the event's two medium-mountain stages this week-end, as well as in the 23.4km-long individual time trial on Thursday. Although he is not a specialist in the race against the clock, Gilbert was confident ahead of the test.
"For once, I will race [a time trial] flat out, I like the idea," he continued. "When I'm in good form and motivated, I think that I can achieve good results there, too." In Tuesday's prologue, Gilbert lived up to his promise, finishing 10 seconds behind the winner with the same time as Denis Menchov (Rabobank).
On top of beating Valverde to remain number one of the UCI ranking, Gilbert will confront some of the best stage racers like Ivan Basso and Roman Kreuziger (Liquigas), Menchov, Christian Vande Velde (Garmin-Transitions) and Michael Rogers (Columbia-HTC) on his hunt for a top ten overall placing.
- Article published:
- April 29, 2010, 09:41
- Cycling News
Dane determined to to return to world's best, admits to bouts of depression
Michael Rasmussen still intends to come back to the highest level of the sport at the Tour de France. The Dane is convinced that he could still win the Tour, if he ever has the chance to ride it again. He said that he still has “a huge passion” for racing, and will continue to “fight on”.
“I'm not 23 years anymore, but nevertheless, I think I have three good years in me yet. If Lance Armstrong can walk around with a hope of winning the Tour de France this summer, I don't see why I should not also allow myself the same hope," he said in an interview with Sport Magazine LPS; to be aired on Danish television TV2 Thursday night.
Rasmussen was leading the Tour de France in 2007 when team Rabobank withdrew him and subsequently terminated his contract. He was found to have lied about his whereabouts while training for the Tour, and served a two-year suspension. Since returning to cycling in 2009, he has ridden for Mexican team Tecos Trek and is currently with the Italian Continental team Miche Silver Cross.
He said that he will not give up, according to the Danish website sporten.dk. “No. I will not because I have a very huge passion for what I do, and because I still believe I can become one of the world's best again, and until I have exhausted all possibilities, I will fight on.”
The way back has not been an easy one for him, Rasmussen admitted. “There have been days where I have sat and cried over some of the situations I have come in. So I get off the bike 40 kilometres away from my house and have had to call my wife and say: I don't f**king know how to get home because I just have no energy.”
To ride the Tour de France, the 35-year-old would have to move up from a Continental team, and that has proved to be a problem. The big teams are reluctant to hire him, he said, calling them “hypocritical.”
“I have certainly been discouraged by the official bodies who sit on the power of cycling. They have obviously managed to convince the teams that it is a really bad idea to sign a contract with me.”
- Article published:
- April 29, 2010, 09:48
- Cycling News
French sports firm already holds 25 percent of Tour de France company
Arnaud Lagardère, the CEO of Lagardère Sports, has announced on French radio RTL that he wants to buy the Amaury Group to which the Tour de France belongs.
Lagardère succeeded his father Jean-Luc at the head of a powerful holding company in the sectors of defence and media in 2004, and created teams in several sports, such as tennis and swimming. He already owns a few publications, the radio station Europe 1, as well as book and newspaper distribution networks, but wants yet to increase his 25 percent share in the Amaury Group. French sports daily L’Equipe and newspaper Le Parisien are part of Editions Philippe Amaury, as is the Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO), the events branch which organises the Tour de France, the Dakar rally, and the Paris marathon, among others.
“We are buyers of all or part of this company”, Lagardère said. “But if the family doesn’t want to sell, we’ll respect it and we’ll walk out.” By family, he means the Amaury family: Marie-Odile, the widow of Philippe Amaury, and his children, Aurore and Jean-Etienne, who is currently the president of ASO. They own the remaining 75 percent of the shares.
“I’d prefer to be the owner of Amaury but it’s a family business”, he added. Discussions are underway. “But we don’t want to rush for anything.”
Lagardère hasn’t been involved in cycling yet but he paid a visit at the Tour of Murcia in early March. He was a special guest of Lance Armstrong in the RadioShack team car. Two weeks later Armstrong visited French president Nicolas Sarkozy and offered him a Trek bicycle, but riding a “Madone” was probably not the only subject they talked about. Lagardère is publicly known as a close friend of Sarkozy.
The Amaury Group is yet to react to Lagardère’s offer.
- Article published:
- April 29, 2010, 11:22
- Cycling News
Greipel versus Wegmann in Rund um den Finanzplatz Eschborn-Frankfurt
The traditional May 1 race in Frankfurt, Germany, may well turn out to be a battle between German riders. HTC-Columbia sprinter Andre Greipel will look to win a mass sprint, while Team Milram's Fabian Wegmann hopes to defend his victory from last year.
Wegmann will have a high-powered helper at his side, Linus Gerdemann. But Wegmann is the captain in this race, which this year is known as Rund um den Finanzplatz Eschborn-Frankfurt. “Winning the race last year was a dream for me,“ said Wegmann. “This year it will be more difficult for us, since because of the changed course, it is flat at the end longer than last year. We must ride attentively and force an early decision.“
The 29-year-old has only recently returned to racing after suffering a broken collarbone in a crash at Tirreno-Adriatico. He subsequently rode the Ardennes Classics, finishing 25th in Amstel Gold Race, crashing out of the Fleche Wallonne, and 17th in Liege-Bastogne-Liege.
Greipel, with more wins that anyone else in the peloton, will look to Marcel Sieberg, Matthew Goss and Leigh Howard to lead him out for the expected sprint. He will hope to avoid a repetition of the results of the previous German race, Rund um Köln. In that sprint finale he was on his own and finished second.
Milram for Rund um den Finanzplatz Eschborn-Frankfurt: Wim de Vocht, Linus Gerdemann, Christian Knees, Roy Sentjens, Niki Terpstra, Paul Voß, Fabian Wegmann, and Peter Wrolich
HTC-Columbia for Rund um den Finanzplatz Eschborn-Frankfurt: Gert Dockx, Matthew Goss, Andre Greipel, Patrick Gretsch, Leigh Howard, Tony Martin, Aleksejs Saramotins, and Marcel Sieberg