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First Edition Cycling News, Thursday, December 24, 2009

Date published:
December 24, 2009, 0:00 GMT
  • Egon van Kessel new Directeur Sportif for Cervelo

    Article published:
    December 23, 2009, 22:01 GMT
    Cycling News

    Former Dutch national coach joins women's team

    Egon van Kessel will be the new Directeur Sportif for the Cervelo TestTeam women's team, the team announced Wednesday afternoon. He will meet four Dutch riders at the team: Kirsten Wild, Regina Bruins, Iris Slappendel and Mirjam Melchers.

    Van Kessel, 53, was the national coach for the Dutch elite men and women at the World Championships and Olympic games from 2001 to 2008. He was worked for the Dutch Cycling Federation for more than 14 years, and was with pro cycling teams for another seven years.

    He said that he knew new general manager Joop Alberda from the Olympic games. “I am impressed by how Cervelo TestTeam, after one year on the road, has grown to such a strong team,” he said. “The team has a positive and a progressive atmosphere.”

    "Egon is a very knowledgeable and experienced sports director who has been an
    integral part of the international cycling world for years," said team spokesman Geert Broekhuizen. "Egon shares the values and goals of our team and is the right person for the job."

  • Tour de Georgia canceled for 2010

    The Brasstown Bald stage was a fixture of the Tour de Georgia.
    Article published:
    December 23, 2009, 22:17 GMT
    Cycling News

    Effort to "bring back the race" postponed to 2011

    The group trying to bring back the Tour de Georgia has announced that it will cancel the race for 2010 and postpone the return "until at least 2011".

    The Tour de Georgia Foundation, Inc. had secured a place on the 2010 calendar from the UCI, but announced it had not come up with the financing to make the race a reality on Wednesday.

    “This was not an easy decision, but one that was best in the current economic climate," said Tom Saddlemire, board member of the Tour de Georgia Foundation, Inc. "The Board of Directors and our advisors did all we could to tailor a race to fit within the economic realities of today and we are understandably disappointed in this announcement, but we are committed to bringing back the Tour as soon as possible."

    The press release stated that the Foundation "thoroughly examined every potential avenue to bring a race together this year, but despite good fundraising efforts, there simply were not enough sponsorship dollars available to stage a Tour de Georgia in 2010".

    The last edition of the Tour de Georgia took place in 2008, and was won by Team High Road's Kanstantin Siutsou in a close contest over Trent Lowe of Team Slipstream.

    Sponsorship woes led to the cancelation of the 2009 event.

  • Rui Costa makes a name for himself

    Portugal's Rui A. Da Costa (Caisse d'Epargne) celebrates his victory.
    Article published:
    December 23, 2009, 22:57 GMT
    Peter Cossins

    Young Portuguese talent aims for the Monuments

    While Alejandro Valverde and Luis León Sánchez were grabbing the headlines for Caisse d’Epargne this season, ProTour newcomer Rui Costa also made a significant mark in his first year with the Spanish squad. A season that should have been all about gaining experience ended with the young Portuguese being talked about as one of the sport’s biggest upcoming talents after he produced a number of hugely impressive performances. Chief among them was his overall victory in the Four Days of Dunkirk.

    That success came on the back of an early-season programme set by Caisse d’Epargne boss Eusebio Unzue that took him to all of the spring classics. "I really enjoyed the experience and the opportunity that Eusebio gave me. I know the classics are too much for me at the moment but if I want to be in contention for them one day I have to learn somewhere," Costa, who only turned 23 in October, told Spanish paper Meta2Mil.

    From the Classics, he moved on to Dunkirk. Second place in the stage 4 time trial gave him the lead, but this came under threat when David Le Lay attacked 4km from home the next day. "The team had protected me all day but when you’re attacked 4km from home you have to respond yourself. I had [Pierrick] Fédrigo on my wheel. I had to tell him that he either had to help me with the chase or I’d stop. He worked with me and we ended up catching Le Lay 300m from the finish. Fédrigo won the stage, I took second and that sealed my grip on the lead."

    The Portuguese added, "The funny thing about that race was that every journalist there called me something different because of some confusion over my name: Rui Faria, Alberto da Costa, Faria da Costa… It’s much simpler: Rui Costa."

    From there Costa went on to finish 13th in the Tour of Switzerland, which earned him a Tour debut. "But my form was already going and I started to suffer with the accumulation of...

  • Criquielion retires after five-year career

    Article published:
    December 24, 2009, 10:01 GMT
    Cycling News

    Son of former World Champion can't find a new team

    Mathieu Criquielion, son of former World Champion Claude Criquielion, has ended his professional riding career. The 28-year-old was unable to find a team for the 2010 season.

    "I entered into negotiations with a team from the ProTour and it looked good, but they suddenly backed off," the Belgian told La Dernière Heure. "I have great memories, but am also disappointed in the environment."

    Criquielion turned pro with Landbouwkrediet-Colnago, where his father was team manager, in 2005. He rode for Jartazi in 2007 and 2008, before moving to Willems Verandas this year.

    Claude Criquielion raced professionally from 1979 to 1991, and won the road World Championship in 1984. He was team manager at Lotto from 2000 to 2004, and has been manager at Landbouwkrediet since 2005.

  • McEwen makes his return at the Bay

    Robbie McEwen after January's Down Under Classic, before misfortune and consequent injury hit his season.
    Article published:
    December 24, 2009, 10:09 GMT
    Les Clarke

    Australian sprinter comes back from injury-plagued 2009 season

    After enduring what he describes as, "the worst year of my whole career", Robbie McEwen will return to racing in January at the Jayco Bay Classic. And while the Australian hasn't had much racing preparation, he's keen to get on with the job and put a horror 2009 behind him.

    McEwen spent most of this season recovering from a severe knee injury, the result of a heavy crash at the Tour of Belgium in May and complications associated with the damaged knee, which effectively ruled him out of every race in his program. And as he returns to race fitness it's obvious that the old McEwen motivation is coming back, however.

    "I'm back in training, I've had good training up on the Gold Coast and I've been putting in some serious k's up in the hills," McEwen told Cyclingnews. "I've had no problems with the knee whatsoever, so I'm right to go. I'm starting to get fit - I wouldn't say I'm 100 percent yet, but it's only mid-December - and I think I'll be a contender at the Bay Criteriums."

    The four-criterium series traditionally boasts the cream of Australia's sprinting talent, with an exciting blend of youth and experience making the competition fierce for an event held in January.

    McEwen has won the Victorian event six times and a seventh isn't off the cards. He'll be riding for Team Mazda with another experienced fast man, Greg Henderson, the kiwi making the trip to Geelong as preparation for the Tour Down Under later in January. McEwen's preparation has been a little more low-key, however.

    "I've been going out to club races and I've been sitting behind the bunch - a few lengths off them - and sort of like motorpacing I put myself far enough off them that I have to make an effort to stay there," explained McEwen. "As people get dropped I go around them and back onto the bunch. I just keep going round them and across to the front group then just sit off them.

    "It's quite intense like a motorpacing session, which has been...

  • Henderson aiming high with Team Sky

    Gregory Henderson (Columbia-HTC) wins Vuelta a España stage three to Venlo, Netherlands
    Article published:
    December 24, 2009, 10:25 GMT
    Daniel Benson

    Sprinter looks to challenge former teammates Cavendish and Greipel

    After claiming five professional wins in 2009 and recently scooping the New Zealand cyclist of the year title, Greg Henderson is aiming even higher for 2010. After moving from Columbia-HTC to Team Sky in the off-season, the Vuelta stage winner is gunning for more success, with his programme centred on the Tour Down Under, Tour de France and World Championships.

    Henderson rode for Columbia-HTC for three seasons but rarely had his chance to shine on the big stage as Cavendish and Greipel both emerged as the two leading sprinters. With a change of teams colours and a new set-up Henderson is convinced that his new team can give him the backing he needs.

    “Moving was the easiest thing I’ve ever done. It feels like home here already. It’s run by guys who are legends in the sport and their attention to detail is just amazing. It’s almost like a different sport with all the data they have,” Henderson told Cyclingnews.

    “I see myself as the number one sprinter on the team. I was in the shadows at Columbia for a long time with the two fastest sprinters on the planet but I want to have a go now. I delivered them to many wins, now I want to race against them.”

    Henderson will kick off his racing campaign at the Tour Down Under – a race he has the potential to shine in. From there he’ll compete in Paris-Nice, before building up to the Tour de France and the Worlds. It’s likely that he’ll miss the Vuelta this year.

    With speculation still linking Ben Swift to Team Sky and the recent signing of Wiggins, Henderson also believes that Sky can give him the support at the Tour he needs in order to compete against Columbia’s almost unbeatable leadout train.

    “The team aren’t going to turn around and say, ‘we're going to the Tour de France for Greg Henderson.’ That just isn’t going to happen. But there will be two or three guys that can do...

  • O'Grady to ride Tour Down Under

    Stuart O'Grady at this year's Tour de France
    Article published:
    December 24, 2009, 11:30 GMT
    Les Clarke

    Inaugural champion won't be at best for home event

    Contrary to media reports earlier this week, Saxo Bank rider Stuart O'Grady will ride the Tour Down Under next January, the Australian told by Dr Peter Barnes this morning his condition it suitable to begin training.

    O'Grady has been suffering from pneumonia since arriving home in Australia, the inaugural winner of Australia's biggest stage race forced to miss the Launceston International Criterium and very nearly being a non-starter at his home event.

    "It's just been a case of no physical activity - just lying around the house has been frustrating," said O'Grady. "This morning I got the all clear from the doctor to actually start riding again very lightly; there's still a bit of an infection in the body," he explained.

    O'Grady's aware that his intense competitive spirit could get the better of him during the race but understands the consequences of pushing a body that is under-prepared for the rigours of a hot, week-long event at the beginning of the year. That doesn't stop him thinking about success, however.

    "It's most important now not to push my body too far into the red and past the limit, which could be detrimental to the rest of the season," he said. "I definitely won't be in the form I've been in the last few years

    "Last year I said I hadn't enjoyed the build up I wanted before the Tour Down Under and nearly pulled it [a win] off. It's going to be really hard to be on the start line and I'm not there for the win.

    "It's going to take a lot of self-control to not bury myself out there on the road, and I haven't done that before," he added.

    With several health scares - crashes included - during 2009, O'Grady says he's just looking forward to maintaining a clean bill of health. And while one eye is on his medical checklist, the other is on his chances in a race he won in 2007 - Paris Roubaix.

    Next year will see him line up for the famed Classic in northern France and he's certainly there to...

  • Quick Step signs Stauff

    The Quick Step team is coming together for 2010.
    Article published:
    December 24, 2009, 13:45 GMT
    Cycling News

    Young German sprinter signs for two years

    Quick Step announced Wednesday that it has signed German Andreas Stauff for two years to its ProTour squad. 

    The 22-year-old sprinter won a stage and the overall points classification of the Tour de l'Avenir and two stages of the U23 Thüringen-Rundfahrt this year.

    “I’m very proud to join this team," said Stauff. "For me it’s a big opportunity that I don’t want to miss. My goals are to grow up in this group and try to reach good results in the future." Stauff said he favours the Classics, and that the team is well suited to those races.

    The Quick Step team has yet to finalize its 2010 roster. It recently released Australian sprinter Allan Davis after losing bike sponsor Specialized and having to reduce its budget. 

    Manager Patrick Lefevere was holding four spots on the team for Alberto Contador and his helpers, who the team had courted during Astana's troubles with gaining a racing license from the UCI. Lefevere had said he would not fill the spots "until the opportunity presents itself".