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First Edition Cycling News, Thursday, August 27, 2009

Date published:
August 27, 2009, 1:00 BST
  • Rosseler to RadioShack - and Steegmans to join him?

    Gert Steegmans in Moscow at the start of the year for the Katusha presentation. The contract between the two was dissolved this week
    Article published:
    August 26, 2009, 13:00 BST
    By:
    Peter Cossins

    Armstrong's Radioshack strengthen as Zubeldia dithers

    Having announced at the weekend that he is set to leave Quick Step after five seasons, 28-year-old Sébastien Rosseler has told Belgian daily Het Nieuwsblad that he’s signed a two-year deal to join Lance Armstrong and Johan Bruyneel at RadioShack.

    Time trial specialist Rosseler, who has won TTs at the Four Days of Dunkirk and the Tour of Belgium this season, was initially set to ride the Vuelta for Quick Step but was replaced at the weekend by Wouter Weylandt. The change was apparently made so that Rosseler can better prepare for the time trial at the world championships next month.

    The Belgian press is also linking Rosseler’s friend and former Quick Step team-mate Gert Steegmans with a move to The Shack. Steegmans has been linked with a number of teams – most notably Milram – since breaking with Katusha earlier in the summer. RadioShack have said they will confirm rider signings in a press release next week.

    Meanwhile, doubts still hang over Haimar Zubeldia’s future. The Basque rider has been offered a two-year contract by The Shack but still has a year on his current deal with Astana. Zubeldia would like to take the two-year option, but admits that, like Astana team leader Alberto Contador, he may have to see out his contract with his current team.

    Another former Quick Step rider making news in Belgium is Frank Vandenbroucke. The 34-year-old, who split with the Cinelli-Down Under team two weeks ago having not been paid, crashed his Mercedes into safety barrier at Brakel, Belgium, on Monday night. VDB, who is currently working in marketing for a Belgian company, was reportedly interviewed by police at the scene. According to Sud Presse, it was the third traffic accident Vandenbroucke had been involved in during the last two weeks.

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  • Voigt renews contract with Saxo Bank

    Jens Voigt displays a look of pure determination.
    Article published:
    August 26, 2009, 13:15 BST
    By:
    Richard Tyler

    German commits to seventh season with Riis' team

    Jens Voigt has confirmed that he will stay with Saxo Bank until at least the end of 2010 after he agreed to a contract extension with the Danish ProTour team on Wednesday.

    "It's a pleasure to sign a contract for another year with Jens," said Saxo Bank team owner Bjarne Riis. "He has an important role to play on our team with his unstoppable will, power and endurance."

    Riis said the 37-year-old German, who has been recovering from injuries sustained in a serious crash on stage 16 of this year's Tour de France, would play an important role supporting the development of younger riders on the team.

    "I am honoured to be offered a contract for another year and I definitely want to prove that I'm alive and well, ready to achieve what I believe I am capable of," said Voigt. "Team Saxo Bank is the Barcelona or Real Madrid of world of cycling and I don't want to drop to a lower standard. I'm grateful to know that Bjarne still thinks I'm good enough to compete at this level."

    The one-year extension will see Voigt race his seventh season with Bjarne Riis' squad. He joined the Dane's CSC in 2004, after six years at French team Crédit Agricole (1998-2003). Voigt began his professional career with ZVVZ-Giant- Australian Institute of Sport in 1997. Prior to this he had raced for four years as an amateur with the German army's sports unit.

    In his so far 12-year professional career Voigt has established himself as one of the peloton's most recognisable characters. He has won stages at both the Giro d'Italia and Tour de France. In addition to his two stage wins at the French Grand Tour and, in 2005, wore the malliot jaune of race leader.

    Since 2006, Voigt has acted, on the behalf of his fellow professionals, as the Cyclistes Professionels Associés (CPA) representative to the UCI ProTour council.

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  • Euskaltel director denies sponsorship problems

    Samuel Sánchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi)
    Article published:
    August 26, 2009, 13:17 BST
    By:
    Peter Cossins

    Galdeano supports Vuelta spring switch

    Euskaltel-Euskadi team manager Igor González de Galdeano has described stories questioning the commitment of his squad’s sponsors as "lies". Doubts about the team’s ongoing viability arose in the wake of positive tests by Iñigo Landaluze for third-generation blood-boosting product CERA and by Tour de France stage-winner Mikel Astarloza for EPO.

    Speaking to El Correo before the start of this weekend’s Vuelta, where Euskaltel’s Samuel Sánchez wears the number 1 jersey and starts as co-favourite with Alejandro Valverde, González de Galdeano admitted the team is extremely worried by the positive tests and subsequent stories. "There have been lots of lies about us and that’s really concerned us," he said. "The team has never been in danger but that’s one of the lies I’ve heard. It’s been said that the team will disappear and also that they wouldn’t let us ride the Vuelta. But we’re not only going to the Vuelta but we’re starting with the number 1 jersey.”

    González de Galdeano stated that far from threatening to withdraw, his team’s backers have offered their complete support. He added, however, there are still concerns within the team as they await news on the testing of Astarloza’s counter-analysis. "We know that the testing process is a long one and that allows a good deal of time in which lies can spread. So it’s no surprise we’re worried, but we’re still motivated [for the Vuelta]," he said.

    González de Galdeano also added his thoughts to a growing push within Spain to move the Vuelta back to a spring start date. "I would be in favour of this because the season is extremely long and when riders finish a race like the Tour de France it’s very hard to motivate them again. By taking in April, the Vuelta would be more attractive and competitive," the Basque team boss stated.

    In...

  • Sánchez, Evans, Basso and Gesink prepare to captain in Spain

    Ivan Basso looks ahead to the Vuelta a España
    Article published:
    August 26, 2009, 17:21 BST
    By:
    Richard Tyler

    Euskaltel-Euskadi, Silence-Lotto, Liquigas, Milram and Rabobank name teams for Vuelta a España

    ProTour teams Euskaltel-Euskadi, Silence-Lotto, Liquigas, Milram, Rabobank and Fuji-Servetto have all announced their nine-man rosters for the Vuelta a España. The announcement of the team lists means that just six teams remain to be confirmed on the startlist for the Spanish Grand Tour.

    As expected, race favourite Samuel Sánchez has been chosen as captain of Euskaltel-Euskadi. Cadel Evans (Silence-Lotto), Ivan Basso (Liquigas) and Robert Gesink (Rabobank) will start the race as the general classification riders for their respective teams.

    Like at the Tour de France, Milram has once again selected Gerald Ciolek and Linus Gerdemann as co-captains for the German team.

    After missing out on an invitation to the Tour de France, Fuji-Servetto will start their second three-week race of the season. David De La Fuente and Juan Jose Cobo are likely to act as the team's protected riders.

    The six top-flight teams will be joined by Spanish Pro Continental squads Andalucia Cajasur, Contentpolis-Ampo and Xacobeo Galicia. The wildcard teams have also now confirmed their line-ups for the race.

    Click here for a full up-to-date preliminary start list for the 2009 Vuelta a España

    Euskaltel - Euskadi for the Vuelta a España: Samuel Sanchez, Igor Anton, Egoi Martinez, Alan Perez, Ruben Perez, Inaki Isasi, Aitor Hernandez, Markel Irizar and Amets Txurruka.

    Silence-Lotto: Cadel Evans, Christophe Brandt, Francis De Greef, Charles Wegelius, Matthew Lloyd, Philippe Gilbert, Olivier Kaisen, Jurgen Roelandts and Mickael Delage.

    Liquigas: Ivan Basso, Daniele Bennati, Maciej Bodnar, Kjell Carlström, Roman Kreuziger, Manuel Quinziato, Sylvester Szmyd, Fabio...

  • Armstrong returns Down Under

    Lance Armstrong (Astana) in conversation with the announcer at the start of stage one.
    Article published:
    August 27, 2009, 1:55 BST
    By:
    Les Clarke

    The Shack to debut in Australia next January

    Having made his first Australian racing appearance at the Tour Down Under in Jaunary this year, Lance Armstrong will return to the South Australian capital, Adelaide, in 2010 as leader of the fledgling RadioShack team in its debut event.

    "Announced this am in Dublin w/ @premieremikerann that I'm racing the tour down under again. First race for @teamradioshack," said Armstrong via Twitter.

    Armstrong kicked off his professional racing comeback in the ProTour's opening round in Jaunary this year, attracting an unprecedented number of fans to Australia's premier cycling event and establishing close relations with the state's leader, Mike Rann.

    He'll again be competing at the Tour Down Under, to be held January 17-24 next year. Premier Rann released a statement announcing the return of the American to Australian shores after he had met with the seven-time Tour de France champion in Dublin shortly after the Tour of Ireland, where Armstrong had been racing.

    Today he is possibly Australia's happiest politician, having again secured the services of the biggest drawcard in world cycling to his state. "I'm delighted to announce that Lance Armstrong will be back in Adelaide to race in next year's Tour Down Under," said Rann.

    "In another coup for South Australia, this will be the first time Lance's new team, Team RadioShack, will compete anywhere in the world.

    "I've been in regular contact with Lance and his management since he made his world cycling comeback in Adelaide at the 2009 Tour Down Under. He really enjoyed his time in South Australia and has told me how much he appreciated the massive support he received from the thousands of cycling fans during the race and from the communities supporting the launch of his global cancer campaign."

    The news of Armstrong's return comes on the same day Australian mining company Santos became naming rights sponsor for the Tour Down Under. This follows the exit of wine...

  • Di Luca claims conspiracy in doping positive

    Danilo Di Luca (LPR Brakes)
    Article published:
    August 27, 2009, 5:15 BST
    By:
    Les Clarke

    Documentation delay postpones CONI hearing a month

    Danilo Di Luca has questioned the validity of the testing used to discover traces of EPO CERA in his blood during this year's Giro d'Italia. The Italian, in Rome for the beginning of an Italian Olympic Committee [CONI] hearing into the offence, has also vowed to return to racing.

    La Gazzetta dello Sport reports that Di Luca's lawyers - Flavia Tortorella and Ernesto De Toni - were granted a 30-day postponement of proceedings against Di Luca as the UCI documentation outlining the results of the rider's anit-doping controls on May 20 and 28 of this year are not yet available.

    "I will return soon, but I'm beginning to think there's a plot, " said Di Luca after the hour-long hearing. "I just can't find an explanation for the two positive results in the Giro d'Italia," he added. "I'm also thinking of the idea of a plot, but first I have to find this out for certain."

    Di Luca's lawyers are presenting the argument that the testing used in the rider's case is not adequately robust and is open to false positives. "They have adapted the method that seeks to find EPO in urine for CERA in blood," they explained. "But the scientific community has not yet ruled on this method. There have been false positives. We are sure that the athlete has not taken any substance, at least voluntarily, and we believe that this method is wrong."

    They have requested the samples be counter-analysed at a different laboratory - the original testing was done at Paris' Châtenay-Malabry laboratory - although regulations stipulate this is not possible and hence the request was denied.

    Di Luca is convinced that there are grounds for successfully arguing the validity of the testing used to find his two positives and given this he'll be able to return to racing. "We have big doubts about the methodology used in doping controls which are positive. With this procedure there have already been cases of false positive and I think this is so in my...

  • Efimkin back to racing after Tour de France injury

    Vladimir Efimkin (AG2R La Mondiale) in Tour de France stage six to Barcelona
    Article published:
    August 27, 2009, 9:48 BST
    By:
    Gregor Brown

    Russian AG2R La Mondiale rider looks for end-of-season result

    Russian Vladimir Efimkin will return to racing for the first time in seven weeks in the Giro della Romagna on September 6. The AG2R La Mondiale rider crashed and injured his left knee in the Tour de France's stage 11, which forced him to abandon four days later.

    "I could not train a lot because there was a very strong pain," Efimkin told Cyclingnews. "I rested, but when I started again there was more pain. The last four weeks have gone very well, though."

    Efimkin crashed early into stage 11 to Saint-Fargeau, but was able to finish the with the race favourites. He abandoned 100 kilometres into the Tour's stage 15 to Verbier.

    "I suffered with four days of incredible pain. I could not continue racing," he said. "It is too bad, I was there, only a week left to race."

    At his home in Italy, he passed a total of two weeks without training. He started training once, but there was still pain in his knee and his doctor advised him to rest more. AG2R have scheduled him for the Giro della Romagna, Tour of Britain and other races through to the Giro di Lombardia.

    "I am more or less at 80 per cent and I am looking for race rhythm. I would like to do something in these races: a result."

    Efimkin placed tenth overall in his first Tour de France last year and won the Bagnères-de-Bigorre stage after Riccardo Riccò's disqualification for doping.

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  • Farrar and Danielson set to lead Garmin's Vuelta assault

    Tom Danielson (Garmin - Slipstream).
    Article published:
    August 27, 2009, 10:57 BST
    By:
    Richard Tyler

    Different discipline goals for Garmin duo - UPDATED

    Garmin-Slipstream is ready to cover a range of options with its team for the Vuelta a España. Tyler Farrar will head the team's push for sprint wins, while Tom Danielson will carry its general classification hopes.

    USA's Farrar accounted for seven of Garmin's 13 race wins this season. He will head into the race as a favourite for the flat stages that open the three-week race thanks to four wins achieved in the past fortnight at the Vattenfall Cyclassics and Eneco Tour.

    USA's Danielson has also displayed good condition recently. He claimed his first race win of the year in the Vuelta a Burgos' time trial, on his way to third place overall.

    Danielson will be able to call upon the support of Ireland's Dan Martin on the Vuelta's tough mountain stages. Martin has recovered from the knee injury that saw him ruled out of the Tour de France. He finished fifth in the ProTour GP Ouest-France last weekend.

    "I'm just looking forward to getting a Grand Tour under my belt and enjoying the experience," Martin told Cyclingnews on Thursday. "We've got a super strong team here and my own form's really good at the moment; I saw that at Plouay [at the GP Quest-France]. I'm going into it kind of thinking of the general [classification] but Tom Danielson's here and he's looking really fit."

    Scot David Millar will also offer Danielson support. He will put a rather unique mark on his palmarès as he starts in his third Grand Tour of the year.

    New Zealander Julian Dean and Dutchman Martijn Maaskant will both start in their second successive three-week race. Their role as lead-out men for Farrar will be critical with sprinters André Greipel (Columbia-HTC), Tom Boonen (Quick Step) and Gerald Ciolek (Milram) present at the race.

    "I'm sure Tyler's going to do the business in the first few stages here," said Dan Martin. "The objective of every team in the race is to win a stage and if Tyler can do that...