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First Edition Cycling News, Thursday, August 12, 2010

Date published:
August 12, 2010, 1:00 BST
  • Skil-Shimano to remain as Pro Continental in 2011

    Roger Kluge got his professional career started at Milram.
    Article published:
    August 11, 2010, 16:10 BST
    Daniel Benson

    Strongly linked to Kluge and Fröhlinger

    Skil-Shimano have confirmed that they will remain as a Pro Continental team for 2011 and not aim for the Pro Tour ranks. The team will look to strengthen their roster for next season in a bid to get over the disappointment of missing out on grand tour selection this year.

    Along with securing a number of their current stars for next year, the team have been strongly linked with Milram's Roger Kluge and Johannes Fröhlinger, with an announcement rumoured to be coming in the coming days.

    "I can neither confirm or deny those signings," said Iwan Spekenbrink, the team's manager.

    "However I can confirm that we'll continue as a team until at least the end of 2012 and we've got great commitment from our sponsors so that we can grow.

    "We believe it's best to grow in line with the values in our team. We want to build step-by-step and so it's best to stay Pro Continental. It also won't make a massive difference when it comes to selection for historical races which are important for us."

    Skil have had a mixed year to date. Despite racking up a number of wins they missed out on selection for both the Tour de France and the up-coming Vuelta. However, according to Spekenbrink, the squad won't be tempted into signing big name riders in their pursuit of trying to guarantee places in the biggest races. Instead they will look to recruit riders that fit both their standard of ethics as well as show promise for future development. Earlier this season they talked to Andre Greipel but the German signed with Lotto and the team decided to pursue other targets.

    "We built the team on a certain criteria and we want to stick with that. Obviously being invited to the Tour and big races are important as those events have huge publicity and we have to give something back to our sponsors."

    "This year we'd originally had the Tour and the Vuelta on our wish list. Of course missing out was a disappointment but on the other hand it wasn't...

  • USADA adds time to Williams suspension

    Kenny Williams has been one of the USA's most successful masters racers after a strong elite career.
    Article published:
    August 11, 2010, 16:29 BST
    Cycling News

    US master banned until January, 2012 after racing during ban

    43-year-old Kenny Williams accepted an extra 103 days of suspension after he competed in an unsanctioned race during his original ban, the US Antidoping Agency (USADA) announced this week.

    The Washington state resident competed in the Seward Park racing series in April of this year, seven months into his original two-year suspension. USADA could have banned him until April, 2012, but instead gave him the least amount of additional suspension time allowed under the World Antidoping Code.

    "Under the WADA Code, athletes who violate an ineligibility period are subject to having their sanctions restarted or a sanction extension equal to the full time served since their sanction began, however the extension period can be reduced under certain circumstances," the USADA press release stated. "Williams's extension period, equal to one half of time served since his sanction commenced, is the maximum reduction of the extension period allowed under the Code."

    Williams tested positive after setting an unofficial world record in the 3000m pursuit at the USA Cycling Masters Track Championships. In order to ratify the record, he submitted to a doping control which was declared positive for an anabolic agent by USADA in December.

    He later admitted to taking the steroid Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) in July, 2009 in order to speed his return to competition after suffering a broken collarbone.

    His ban for the positive test was due to expire September 20, 2011, but he will now be ineligible to compete until January 3, 2012.

  • Transfer news: Euskaltel-Euskadi renew with Sicard, Anton and Martinez

    Under-23 World Champion Romain Sicard (Euskaltel-Euskadi)
    Article published:
    August 11, 2010, 18:34 BST
    Barry Ryan

    Karpets extends contract with Katusha

    Romain Sicard has extended his contract with Euskaltel-Euskadi. The 22-year-old from Bayonne will stay with the Basque team until the end of 2012, with an option to extend the deal until 2014. Sicard won the world under-23 road race title and Tour de l’Avenir last year and impressed at the Dauphiné during his debut season as a professional.

    “I can keep progressing and maturing as a cyclist here,” said Sicard. “They’ve supported me since I was an amateur at Orbea and I feel very comfortable on this team. It’s one of the best teams in the world and they have confidence in me.”

    Euskaltel-Euskadi have also extended the contracts of Igor Anton and Egoi Martinez. Anton took a stage at the Vuelta a Castilla y León this season and is pleased to continue with the orange-clad team. “I am comfortable on the team and they appreciate me and have confidence in my possibilities,” he said.

    Martinez echoed his compatriot’s feelings: “I feel that renewing is logical given the style of rider I am. I am a team man," he explained.

    One man leaving Euskaltel, however, is Beñat Intxausti. The 24-year-old has announced his departure today. “We have not reached an agreement and for a young rider as me, I think it's better to continue my career with another team, where I can continue my progression,” he said. Intxausti was third at this year’s Tour of the Basque Country and is currently preparing for the Vuelta a Espana.

    Meanwhile, Vladimir Karpets has renewed his contract with Katusha for 2011. The Russian put pen to paper at team headquarters in Lonato, Italy yesterday.

  • Jonker speaks out in defence of Armstrong

    2004 winner Pat Jonker gets the adulation of the crowd
    Article published:
    August 11, 2010, 22:51 BST
    Cycling News

    Former teammate saw no evidence of doping at US Postal Service

    Former US Postal Service rider Patrick Jonker has come out strongly in defence of his former leader Lance Armstrong. Speaking with, the Australian claimed that he had never seen any evidence to suggest that Armstrong had doped.

    “I didn’t see anything. If I was subpoenaed to go to court and put my hand on the Bible, I’d go,” Jonker said. “This is not a game, it’s very serious.”

    Floyd Landis implicated Armstrong in his allegations of the existence of a systematic doping programme within the US Postal Service team. A federal investigation has since been launched into the matter.

    "Maybe it's good they're investigating. These are serious allegations and, once and for all, [Armstrong’s] name will be cleared. But cleared of what? Because he hasn't done anything wrong,” maintained Jonker, who is currently manager of the Australia-based Virgin Blue-RBS Morgans team.

    "If they want to ask were there any performance enhancing drugs taken at US Postal, I'd say, 'I wish there was' because I would have liked to improve my performance,” he added jokingly.

    Jonker spent the 2000 season with US Postal but missed out on riding the Tour de France due to injury. However, his relationship with Armstrong dates back to the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona, when the Australian and American teams shared a hotel while training before the event, and they maintained their friendship throughout the 1990s.

    “He was a big Texan triathlete who kicked our arse,” Jonker recalled. “Some years he spent more time with me than his wife.”

    Jonker joined US Postal Service from Rabobank in 2000 and left for Big Mat-Auber 93 the following season. His best Tour de France performance came in ONCE colours in 1996, when he finished 12th.

  • Contador's triple crown claim crushed by Schleck

    Tour de France runner up Andy Schleck (Saxo Bank).
    Article published:
    August 12, 2010, 6:27 BST
    Cycling News

    Tour runner up says three Grand Tour wins "not possible"

    Andy Schleck has shot down the claims by soon-to-be former team manager Bjarne Riis and Alberto Contador that the Spaniard could win three Grand Tours in one season.

    The Luxembourger finished second to Contador at both the 2009 and 2010 editions of the Tour de France, with the Spanish star taking the place left in Riis' Saxo Bank outfit by the departure of the younger Schleck and his brother Frank, just weeks after securing his third Tour title.

    After the announcement that Contador would be riding for Riis' team - to be called Saxo Bank-Sungaard next season - the experienced Danish manager made the claim that his star recruit could win the Giro d'Italia, Tour de France and Vuelta a España in one season, a claim Contador tempered by labelling it "a dream".

    Speaking to Norwegian online daily Verdens Gang after finishing second to Edvald Boasson Hagen in Tuesday's Oslo GP, Schleck expressed his doubts about the validity of the claim and the possibility of Contador achieving the "dream".

    "I do not think Contador can do it," said Schleck. Pressed to explain the reasons behind his statement, the young Luxembourger smiled knowingly and replied, "I think it's just not possible."

    Asked whether the same 'triple crown' could be a personal goal, Schleck hastily said, "No, no, no".

    Schleck's destination for 2011 - a new Luxembourg-based team run by former Saxo Bank staff member Kim Andersen - is yet to announce a sponsor or a list of recruits for its debut season.

  • Geox announce sponsorship of Gianetti's team

    The two Swiss riders of Footon-Servetto-Fuji, David Vitoria and Noé Gianetti (l-r), join Mauro Gianetti for a picture.
    Article published:
    August 12, 2010, 9:45 BST
    Cycling News

    Cunego believed to be main transfer target

    A sponsorship agreement has been signed between Geox president Mario Moretti Polegato and Footon-Servetto general manager Mauro Gianetti. The Italian shoe manufacturer will take over as primary sponsor of Gianetti’s squad, while Fuji will continue as bike supplier. Former Lampre partner Caffita is also touted to be a potential sub-sponsor.

    “I was contacted in June asked to present a plan,” Gianetti told La Gazzetta dello Sport. “I didn’t know the company directors personally but I spoke with the president and he told me of his idea of entering cycling because it’s a sport of great tradition, with a huge following and for people of all ages.”

    The exact details of Geox’s sponsorship agreement are not certain, but the budget is believed to be around €6 million per year and the initial commitment is expected to last at least two seasons. The existing structure and team headquarters in Spain will be maintained but the squad will race under an Italian licence in 2011. Former Saeco and Barloworld manager Claudio Corti will be team manager, joining sporting directors Stefano Zanini, Daniele Nardello and Joxean Fernández Matxin.

    La Gazzetta reports that Damiano Cunego (Lampre-Farnese Vini) is Geox’s primary transfer target. As Footon-Servetto currently lie outside the top 17 teams in the UCI rankings and are thus not guaranteed a place in next year’s grand tours, Geox is keen to sign one of the stars of the Italian peloton in order to ensure its presence at the Giro d’Italia.

    Cunego is thought to fit the bill as he comes from the same Veneto region as the company and he used to have a personal deal with Diadora sports equipment, which is now owned by Geox. The presence of his former manager Claudio Corti would be another motivation for Cunego to join the team. His Lampre-Farnese Vini squad has already signed Michele Scarponi to lead its Giro...

  • Fewer Eastern European riders for AG2R

    Vladimir Efimkin (AG2R)
    Article published:
    August 12, 2010, 10:06 BST
    Hedwig Kröner

    French team loses Efimkin and Mandri, Valjavec ill

    French squad AG2R La Mondiale will include fewer Eastern European riders next season unless team manager Vincent Lavenu opts to hire new riders. According to France's Cyclismag, Russian rider Vladimir Efimkin left the team on August 1, due to family reasons. Efimkin has returned to the US, where he lives, to be with his wife.

    "We found an agreement with him," said Lavenu. For the moment, Efimkin has not signed with any other team, but could continue his career on North American soil. The former Caisse d'Epargne rider was with AG2R since 2008.

    Estonian rider René Mandri has meanwhile indicated that he too will no longer ride for the French team in 2011. His departure is the "mutual wish" of both parties, and Mandri hopes to be able to announce his new team in the next few days.

    Unless he decides to hire a new Estonian, Lavenu will thus not have any riders from that country in his squad next year, which would be a first since he started managing cycling teams in 1992 with Chazal.

    Slovenian rider Tadej Valjavec, who was suspended by his team this year until he was cleared of doping suspicions by the Slovenian cycling federation, will nevertheless not be able to make his come-back to racing soon. Because of ongoing stomach problems, Valjavec may be forced to delay his return until next season.

    "The situation has improved, but I am not in good health yet," he told the Dnevnik newspaper. "The doctors allow me to train but I am still on medication." Valjavec was supposed to get back to racing in September to prepare for the Giro di Lombardia, but now may have to wait until February next year.

    Stomach problems were also part of his defence when he had to justify the abnormal blood values from his Biological Passport in front of his federation. The UCI is currently analysing the case to decide whether or not to appeal it at the Court of Arbitration for Sports (CAS).

  • Vuelta honour for Iñigo Cuesta

    Inigo Cuesta (Cervelo Test Team)
    Article published:
    August 12, 2010, 10:30 BST
    Peter Cossins

    Tribute paid as Spaniard eyes 17th Vuelta start

    Vuelta a España organisers Unipublic are set to pay tribute to Iñigo Cuesta’s outstanding record at the event by making him number 1 on their start list. The 41-year-old Cervélo TestTeam rider is in contention for a 17th consecutive appearance in his national tour, and if selected by his team will break his own record of 16 Vuelta starts.

    The tribute has been made in the absence of defending champion Alejandro Valverde, who is currently serving a two-year ban for doping offences. Traditionally, a team-mate would wear the number 1 in the absence of the defending champion, but Unipublic are making this unusual move given the unique nature of Cuesta’s achievement.

    Cuesta made his first Vuelta appearance for the Euskadi team in his debut 1994 season. He finished 15th overall, marking himself out as a possible contender for the title in future years. Signed by ONCE in 1996, Cuesta instead became a super-domestique working in the mountains for the likes of Laurent Jalabert and Alex Zülle.

    Only when he moved to Cofidis in 2001 did he finally improve on that initial 15th place in his national tour, when he finished 13th overall in the 2001 race. That remains his best Vuelta finish.

    Last year, his first with Cervélo after moves to Saunier Duval and CSC, Cuesta was a very respectable 35th at the age of 40. That was his 12th finish in 16 Vuelta appearances. He has also ridden the Tour de France seven times and earlier this season completed his third Giro d’Italia.