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First Edition Cycling News, Thursday, December 16, 2010

Date published:
December 16, 2010, 0:00 GMT
  • L'Etape comes to California

    Glendora Road, part of Stage 7 of the 2011 Amgen Tour of California, has been used in the San Dimas stage race for over 7 years.
    Article published:
    December 15, 2010, 19:11 GMT
    Cycling News

    Amateurs get to ride Claremont to Mt. Baldy stage

    Cycling enthusiasts will have a unique chance to ride the route of the queen stage of the 2011 Amgen Tour of California in L'Etape du California the week before the professionals tackle the epic route.

    In the tradition of the L'Etape du Tour, which takes place on the route of one stage of the Tour de France each year, the May 7, 2011 L'Etape du California will follow the arduous route of teh Amgen Tour's Stage 7 from Claremont, California to the Mt. Baldy ski area. While the exact route is yet to be announced, it is expected to cover over 100 miles and include almost 10,000 feet of climbing.

    "As interest in professional cycling continues to gain momentum in the U.S., we have seen an increasing number of people who want to ride parts of the Amgen Tour of California route," said Andrew Messick, president of AEG Sports. "We are thrilled to bring this amazing experience to the masses through the L'Etape du California. It will be an extremely challenging event for the amateur cyclists, requiring a high level of fitness and mental endurance."

    Registration for the event, run by Pacific Sports, will begin on December 22 and cost $95, which includes neutral support and feeding stations, a post-event meal, a t-shirt, bag and bottle and a medal for finishing. Each rider will be clocking using timing chips.

    For more information visit

  • Neben back on track with HTC-Highroad

    Amber Neben (HTC-Highroad)
    Article published:
    December 15, 2010, 22:02 GMT
    Laura Weislo

    Former world champion building toward 2012 Olympics

    The past few years have been a series of struggles for Amber Neben, but the former time trial world champion is getting back on track and has the 2012 Olympic Games in her sights, thanks to her two-year contract with HTC-Highroad.

    Speaking at the HTC-Highroad camp in California this month, Neben said she is excited back working with Bob Stapleton and some of the other people she worked with at the start of her career on T-Mobile in 2004. The team has formed a partnership with Specialized bikes, and having two years to dial in the equipment was a high priority for Neben, who has the 2012 Olympic Games as one of her top goals.

    "Number one, it's just good people. It's a solid environment from an integrity standpoint, with quality people and quality teammates. The equipment is top of the line. They want the best equipment and want us to find any little advantage from that standpoint - they really do pay attention to the details."

    Call it the curse of the rainbow jersey or just plain bad luck, but in the years following her 2008 world title, the Californian has had to overcome one obstacle after another. First came a broken elbow in November 2008, then in the 2009 world championships she broke her hand after crashing into a metal barrier.

    Perhaps more disruptive than the physical problems was the news one year ago that her 2010 team, Equipe Nürnberger Versicherung, lost its sponsor.

    The bad luck continued in 2010, with a torn muscle in the spring and then a broken collarbone in July meant more time spent out of competition. However, now that she is healthy and has a new team, Neben is hopeful and ready to get a fresh start in preparing for the coming season.

    "I think the biggest thing for me right now - last year it was about this time where I found out I didn't have a team. All of a sudden any thoughts and stability about schedule and preparation went up in the air. I didn't know where I was going to race, how I...

  • Team Type 1 conducts wind tunnel testing

    Team Type 1's Alexey Shmidt warms up in the A2 Wind Tunnel.
    Article published:
    December 15, 2010, 22:36 GMT
    Peter Hymas

    Six riders fine-tune time trial position in North Carolina

    One day prior to the start of Team Type 1's training camp in Athens, Georgia, six riders plus staff and the head mechanic traveled to the A2 Wind Tunnel in Mooresville, North Carolina on Tuesday to fine tune the time trial positions of team members likely to figure prominently against the clock in 2011.

    A UCI Continental team for the previous three years, Team Type 1 has stepped up to the Professional Continental ranks for 2011. Commensurate with the team's addition of a service course in Italy and the hiring of several established European professionals, Team Type 1 looked to Tuesday's wind tunnel session as an opportunity to provide every possible advantage to its riders embarking on a primarily European campaign.

    New hires Laszlo Bodrogi, Rubens Bertogliati, Alexander Efimkin and Kiel Reijnen joined returning team members Javier Megias Leal and Alexey Shmidt for wind tunnel sessions on Tuesday. Bodrogi, Bertogliati and Shmidt are all proven time trial talents seeking the extra edge to win races against the clock while Efimkin, Megias and Reijnen are general classification contenders striving to optimize their stage racing potential via strong time trial performances.

    "Our best riders are here and we're trying to provide them the best support possible to have their [time trial] bikes ready for big events," directeur sportif Vassili Davidenko told Cyclingnews. "We're confident in the program we're going to have and we're doing everything we can to be well-organized and well-prepared to start the season strong and show results that inspire people around the globe."

    Laszlo Bodrogi, a silver and bronze medalist in the men's elite time trial world championships as well as a 10-time Hungarian time trial national champion, moved to Team Type 1 from the ProTour Katusha squad and looks forward to 2011 as an opportunity to once again prove himself against the clock at the highest level. A slow recovery from a severe leg injury...

  • O'Grady: Accident won't hamper Classics plans

    Stuart O'Grady at this year's Tour de France
    Article published:
    December 16, 2010, 1:11 GMT
    Les Clarke

    Former Roubaix champion battered and bruised but calm

    Stuart O'Grady believes that his recent skiiing accident won't hamper plans for the Spring Classics but will dampen his ambitions for January's Santos Tour Down Under

    Speaking from his base in Monaco yesterday afternoon, O'Grady says that his strong base fitness, garnered through an excellent training program during November, will serve him well despite the enforced 'go slow' period.

    Doctors have told the 37-year-old Australian, who broke two ribs in the accident during a team camp on Crans Montana in Switzerland, that he risks puncturing his lung should he perform overly high-intensity exertions, such as those done in racing.

    "I've got to be very careful for three weeks - I'll be able to do some strength work on the legs, some home trainer [work], some cross-training, stair-climbing... anything that's low intensity," said O'Grady.

    "It's not the ideal preparation I had in mind for the start of the season - I'm very disappointed and it's very frustrating. It wasn't even a crash on the bike this time, which makes it even more bizarre."

    It means that next month's Jayco Bay Series are "almost an impossibility" for the Luxembourg Pro Cycling Project rider, although he says he will be riding the Santos Tour Down Under later that month, albeit with reduced ambitions for overall honours.

    The two-time Tour Down Under champion and 2007 Paris-Roubaix winner was confident that the accident won't hinder his ambitions for the Northern Classics, where he will be captain on the road with 2010 Paris-Roubaix and Tour of Flanders champion Fabian Cancellara in the squad and expectations high that the Luxembourg Pro Cycling Project will be amongst the favourites for these events.

    "I'm not concerned about that at all, actually... I'm just going to see this as a bit of a hiccup and obviously you can't plan for things like this; through an athlete's season there's always something that goes wrong along the way. Mine just happened...

  • "Best field yet" for Jayco Bay Cycling Classic

    Baden Cooke during the final race of the Jayco Bay Classic
    Article published:
    December 16, 2010, 4:38 GMT
    Cycling News

    Quality field makes for a fast Australian summer opener

    The Jayco Bay Cycling Classic promises even more spectacular racing in its 22nd year, with stellar men's and women's field contesting the four-criterium event which takes place in the area surrounding the Victorian port city of Geelong.

    Racing kicks off on January 2 with the Eastern Park criterium in Geelong, before moving onto Portarlington, back to Geelong - along Ritchie Blvd - before the finale in Williamstown on January 5.

    Event director John Trevorrow said that the peloton will boast a record 20 teams and many of Australia's best riders in what is known as the fastest criterium series in the world. "It's the 22nd year of the Bay Crits and this is going to be the best one yet, definitely the best field," said Trevorrow.

    "We've got a record 20 teams in the elite men's which is fantastic and the list of names is very impressive. It is a really class field in both the men's and women's events."

    Under 23 road world champion Michael Matthews will headline the Urban Hotel Group outfit with Rabobank stablemate Graeme Brown before joining his teammates for the Santos Tour Down Under in Adelaide.

    Bronze medallist at the UCI Road World Championships and Commonwealth Games road race winner Allan Davis returns to the Bay Classic while winner of the 2004 event, Baden Cooke, and 2010 Giro d'Italia best young rider Richie Porte will ride for the Lowe Farms/Bomaroo Nurseries team.

    The Tasmanian trio of Matthew Goss, Wesley and Bernie Sulzberger will join forces for the E3/Pure Tasmania lineup. Racing for O2 Networks, 2007 and 2008 Jayco Bay Cycling Classic champion Mark Renshaw will start as one of the hot favourites for stage and overall honours in a bid to become just the second man to win the event on three occasions.

    After missing the 2010 event due to illness, Renshaw is out to claim early season victories before returning to his duties as the lead out man for HTC-Highroad teammate Mark Cavendish.

  • Jalabert visits 2011 Worlds course

    Laurent Jalabert in the car.
    Article published:
    December 16, 2010, 10:02 GMT
    Cycling News

    French national coach assesses sprinter's circuit, comments on Riis and Contador

    French national coach Laurent Jalabert has visited the 2011 Worlds road race course north of Copenhagen, Denmark, predicting that the race will end in a showdown between sprinters.

    "Many nations will come with sprinters and will therefore have an interest that it ends in a bunch sprint," Jalabert told, nevertheless pointing out that the circuit has its traps. "It's not a difficult route, but technical in that there are not many places where it goes straight on, so the field will be pulled out. It will be essential for the riders to position themselves properly and economise their energy," he said.

    Moreover, Jalabert said that the sprint will be special because the finish is located on top of Geels Hill, on a road that is slightly uphill.

    Also well-acquainted with Bjarne Riis from his last years as an active rider, the 41-year-old Frenchman was asked about the Saxo Bank manager and the possible suspension of his new star rider, Alberto Contador. If the Spaniard receives a ban for having Clenbuterol in his system during the last Tour de France, Jalabert said that Riis will terminate his contract with the rider and start the upcoming season without a team leader.

    "If he [Contador - ed.] is suspended, there is no need for him. As soon as a penalty is official, you must get rid of the rider. It's logical," said Jalabert.

    But the Frenchman also added that this setback would not mean the end of Riis.

    "He has always been able to gather good riders around him, who may not have been familiar at first but who became known on his team, such Fuglsang and Breschel. He took them to a higher level on his team," the Frenchman told DR Sports.

    However, many Saxo Bank riders including Fuglsang and Fabian Cancellara have left Riis for the new Luxembourg team built around the Schleck brothers. Still, Jalabert believed that if Contador is allowed to ride the Tour de France next year, he will beat...

  • Riders and friends attend Sassi’s funeral

    Aldo Sassi coffin is carried out of the church
    Article published:
    December 16, 2010, 11:17 GMT
    Stephen Farrand

    Squinzi and Damiani remember the Italian coach

    Aldo Sassi was remembered by his riders, former members of the Mapei team and cycling friends during an emotional funeral in his home town of Valmorea near Como.

    Sassi died on Monday after fighting a brain tumour and many of his riders took time out from training to attend the funeral. Cadel Evans was unable to make it because he is in Australia but Ivan Basso, Riccardo Riccò, Damiano Cunego, Dario Cioni, Kjell Carlström, Charly Wegelius and Oscar Freire all attended. As did Francesco Moser, who Sassi worked with the early eighties when he broke the hour record.

    “He told us that the family was the most important thing, he said ‘You’ve got to stay united and love each other, everything else will follow on from that,” Riccò confided to Gazzetta dello Sport, confirming the way Sassi worked on his rider’s character as much as their training.

    Sassi played a fundamental part in the creation and management of the Mapei team and many of the riders paid their last respects, including Paolo Bettini, Andrea Tafi, Gianni Bugno, Daniele Nardello, Stefano Zanini, directeur sportif Roberto Damiani and Mapei owner Giorgio Squinzi.

    The Italian businessman closed down the team after a taking a stance against doping but then funded the Mapei centre and remained a close friend and occasional riding partner.

    “We first met in 1993 and we immediately clicked,” Squinzi said. “We were both passionate about cycling and consider it the best sport in the world because it is the most humane. Aldo started coaching the Mapei riders in 1996 and he took it as mission because we both believed in clean cycling. Basso proved that you can win the Giro clean. Aldo has asked Basso to win the Tour clean and then put the yellow jersey on his grave.”

    Roberto Damiani created the Mapei development team that helped riders of the calibre of Fabian Cancellara, Michael Rogers,...

  • Fédrigo getting up to speed with FDJ

    Pierrick Fedrigo (Bbox Bouygues Telecom)
    Article published:
    December 16, 2010, 11:22 GMT
    Hedwig Kröner

    French team leader looks forward to improved training, targets Paris-Nice

    The new leader of the FDJ team, Pierrick Fédrigo, is currently preparing for next season at a team training camp in Moussy-le-Vieux, near Paris. The former Bouygues Telecom rider, who has netted three Tour de France stage victories and a French national road race title during his career, is fitting in well and already taking up a leadership role.

    "In races, I like to make the others suffer, but in order to do that, you first have to make yourself suffer, too," said Fédrigo, who is already making a good impression on team manager Marc Madiot.

    "I'm getting to know him as a person, and I like what I see," Madiot told L'Equipe. "He takes the initiative, is integrating well in the team and is not afraid to speak out. He can be the new natural leader of our team."

    Even though FDJ will have to operate as a Professional Continental team next year Fédrigo still hopes to compete and succeed at the highest level in 2011.

    "After the GP de Béssèges, I want to work with [team trainer] Frédéric Grappe in order to become competitive for Paris-Nice, a race in which I've never done well in," the 32-year-old said.

    Grappe, who has been with FDJ for ten years, was surprised to find out that a high-profile rider such as Fédrigo did not follow proper training schedules - something he'd like to change.

    "He doesn't write down his kilometres nor his training hours. When he makes a performance, he doesn't know how he was able to do it. When he starts a race, he doesn't know if he's good or not. It is only 40 kilometres before the finish, when he checks out the faces of his rivals, that he understands whether he can win. He measures his form by comparison to others, he doesn't know himself. If he agrees, I would like to give him a little bit of methodology," Grappe said.