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First Edition Cycling News, Thursday, December 9, 2010

Date published:
December 09, 2010, 0:00 GMT
  • Rasmussen to announce his new team on Thursday

    The controversial Michael Rasmussen pictured at the Tre Valli Varesine
    Article published:
    December 08, 2010, 12:56 GMT
    Susan Westemeyer

    Personal sponsor Hembo said to have secured a Continental licence

    Michael Rasmussen will be captain of the Continental-ranked team Christina Watches team next year, according to reports in several Danish media.  His personal sponsor, Christina Hembo, is said to have already secured a licence for the team from the International Cycling Union.

    “It's true but I will not comment on it now. We will hold a news conference tomorrow,” Hembo told the Danish news agency Ritzau.

    Rasmussen served a two-year suspension on doping-related charges, stemming from his preparations for the 2007 Tour de France.  When the ban ended in July 2009, he rode for the small Mexican team Tecos-Trek, and rode the first half of this year for Miche-Silver Cross. Since July he has ridden for Christina Racing, sponsored by Hembo, as the team's only rider.

    The 36-year-old had hoped for a contract with Team Saxo Bank-SunGard for 2011 but team owner Bjarne Riis refused to make him an offer, leaving Rasmussen “in a state of shock”.

    Hembo announced last month that she would try to create a team, with Rasmussen captain and part owner. Both Hembo and Rasmussen took part in the Danish version of the 'Dancing With the Stars' television show.

    Hembo, 32, has a degree from the University of Arts London. She designs diamond- encrusted watches, which are sold in more than 25 countries worldwide. Hembo was named female Danish Entrepreneur of the Year in 2008, and Growth Adventurer of the Year 2009.

  • No deal imminent for Pellizotti

    Franco Pellizotti (Liquigas - Doimo)
    Article published:
    December 08, 2010, 12:59 GMT
    Stephen Farrand

    Italian to await final verdict before signing a contract

    Franco Pellizotti’s agent Alex Carera has denied report that the Italian rider is close to signing with the Movistar team, explaining that any decision on his future will only be made after a final verdict on his Biological Passport violation.

    “I’m meeting with Franco on Friday but we won’t make a decision about his future just yet,” Carera told Cyclingnews.

    “We’ve decided to wait until the whole situation is resolved and hopefully that Franco is cleared, so that he can make a full comeback. If he is cleared he would be able to earn a lot more than if he signs a contract now.”

    The UCI requested the Italian Cycling Federation to investigate Pellizotti just a few days before this year’s Giro d’Italia after spotting variations in his blood values. He was not selected for the Giro by his Liquigas-Doimo team and missed the rest of the 2010 season but was then cleared by the Italian national anti-doping court (TNA) on October 21.

    The UCI has yet to decide if it will appeal against the sentence at the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).

    Several teams including Movistar, Team Sky, Acqua & Sapone and Liquigas were linked to Pellizotti when he was cleared in Italy. Movistar seems the most logical destination for Pellizotti because the Spanish teams lacks stage race contenders after losing Luis Leon Sanchez to Rabobank. However Carera insists time is not a problem.

    “Franco’s goals are later in the season and so it’s not vital he has a team in place for the start of the 2011 season. We can wait. This is a very delicate case and so it’s more important that a final verdict is reached before any deal is done.”

  • Photo gallery: RadioShack training camp in Calpe

    Last-minute adjustments before rolling out in Calpe.
    Article published:
    December 08, 2010, 13:17 GMT
    Barry Ryan

    Exclusive pictures from first gathering of 2011 campaign

    The RadioShack team gathered in Calpe, Spain this week for its first training camp ahead of the 2011 season. And while Lance Armstrong and the other American riders didn’t make the trek across the Atlantic, there was still plenty of talent on show, including several new arrivals at the team for 2011.

    Snow and freezing temperatures have wreaked havoc on the training schedules of professional riders all over Europe in recent weeks and so many of the RadioShack squad were determined to make the most of their time under the Spanish sun to get in some serious training miles.

    New signing Philip Deignan had been forced to ride a turbo trainer in recent days in Ireland and he was among a select group of riders to get in an extra hour on the road on first morning of the training camp. Andreas Klöden recently spent some time in the Middle East with Jan Ullrich but was also keen to take advantage of the conditions. He stayed out alone to put in some extra kilometres in the afternoon.

    Janez Brajkovic was less fortunate and had to wait a little longer before sampling the delights of training with the sun on his back. Weather conditions and a string of flight delays saw the Slovenian arrive a day later than his teammates. Haimar Zubeldia and Thiago Machado had more straightforward journeys from elsewhere on the Iberian peninsula, while Yaroslav Popovych seemed happy to be back on his bike in Calpe after his troubled off-season.

    Team manager Johan Bruyneel kept a low-key presence at the camp, running an eye over the fitness of his European-based riders as the team prepares for the beginning of the post-Lance Armstrong era.

    Like last season, RadioShack will continue to ride SRAM-equipped Treks in 2011. Having secured a ProTeam licence for the coming season, RadioShack should also be present at all of the Grand Tours. The Calpe training camp was also an opportunity for the team to begin planning its calendar for 2011.

  • Four top US-based teams plus Liquigas for Colorado race

    Lance Armstrong announces the inaugural Quiznos Pro Challenge stage race, set to take place in Colorado in August 2011.
    Article published:
    December 08, 2010, 16:07 GMT
    Cycling News

    First teams announced for Quiznos Pro Challenge

    Four of the first five teams announced for the first-ever Quiznos Pro Challenge race are American-based teams.  Team RadioShack, HTC-Highroad, BMC Racing Team, and Garmin-Cervelo will take to the roads in Colorado next August, joined by Italian team Liquigas-Cannondale.

    The race organisers announced the first five teams on Wednesday.  The race features seven stages including stops in the ski resorts of Vail and Aspen, as well as the state capital of Denver.  The 600-mile stage race is expected to include much climbing in the Rocky Mountains.

    Lance Armstrong and Colorado governor Bill Ritter announced the race in August, although at the time Armstrong wasn't certain of his participation in the event.  He has already said that the Tour Down Under in January 2011 would be his last race outside of the US.

  • Van Goolen disappointed with Omega Pharma-Lotto

    Jurgen van Goolen (CSC) powers up the final climb in a vain attempt to steal the stage victory from Contador.
    Article published:
    December 08, 2010, 17:43 GMT
    Richard Tyler

    Belgian looking for a new team after being let go

    Belgium's Jurgen Van Goolen has expressed his disappointment with Omega Pharma-Lotto's decision not to extend his current one-year contract with the team. With the start of the 2011 season now less than six weeks away, the 29-year-old domestique faces a difficult search for a new team.

    "It's unfortunate, especially given my level in the final month of the season and I completely sacrificed myself for the team," Van Goolen told Het Laatste Nieuws. "The first half of the year didn't go well. I was struggling with a hernia and it took me a long time to get back into good form."

    Van Goolen is one of the more experienced domestiques in the peloton, having ridden for Quick Step, Discovery Channel and Team CSC during his nine-year professional career. He joined Omega Pharma-Lotto at the start of 2010 on a one-year deal.

    Omega Pharma-Lotto team boss Marc Sergeant acknowledged that Van Goolen had given strong support to team captain Philippe Gilbert at the Tour of Lombardy. But with the squad signing on a host of new riders for 2011, his performances throughout the year were not enough for the team to justify a contract extension.

    "His performance in the final few races wasn't bad, he certainly put the team above himself and rode hard for Gilbert. But the management of the team have to use common sense and look at the season as a whole," said Sergeant. "We know he had setbacks this year. But how can a rider who only races half a season be rewarded with a contract?"

    While his career has largely been ridden at the service of others, Van Goolen has taken some strong results in the past. He claimed second in the mountains classification at the 2007 Vuelta a España, and a year later finished 16th overall in the same event. He accepts that his strength lies in a support role and despite the proximity of the new season is hopeful that his qualities will help him find a place in the peloton in 2011.

  • Deignan opens new chapter at RadioShack

    Article published:
    December 08, 2010, 20:01 GMT
    Barry Ryan

    Irishman puts 2010 health problems behind him

    Philip Deignan is confident that the health problems that plagued his 2010 season are now firmly behind him as he opens a fresh chapter of his career at RadioShack. The Irishman is currently in Calpe, Spain, at his new team’s first training camp of the 2011 campaign.

    “They termed it as reoccurring viral infections and said that my immune system wasn’t really working,” Deignan told Cyclingnews ahead of his first group training ride with RadioShack. “My white blood cell count was really low, and I was just getting sick all the time, but thankfully I’m feeling a lot, lot better now.”

    Deignan endured a frustrating 2010 as a series of illnesses prevented him from gaining any momentum. The final act in his season came when he was forced to abandon the Vuelta a España on stage 11, but he has used the intervening period to address his nagging health concerns and build towards next season.

    “I had three or four weeks off the bike after the Vuelta and I did a lot of blood tests and scans just to monitor the health and to see how my body was recovering,” he explained. “I got some more tests done three weeks ago and they all showed that my immune system had recovered.”

    Deignan cut a distinctive figure on his first RadioShack outing in the colours of the now defunct Cervélo TestTeam and he admitted that it came as a major surprise when it was announced in August that the team was to disband at the end of the season.

    “The only reason I was starting to get a little suspicious was that we hadn’t signed anybody after the Tour or even during the Tour,” he said. “A lot of the guys hadn’t re-signed. There were only eight or 10 of us who had contracts for next year. I suppose that raised a few eyebrows but I still don’t think anybody expected the team to fold so quickly, just like that and so late in the year. It was a...

  • Tchmil responds to Menchov’s criticism

    Denis Menchov (Rabobank) is one of the favourites for overall victory.
    Article published:
    December 08, 2010, 21:42 GMT
    Stephen Farrand

    Katusha manager hits back after

    Katusha team manager Andrei Tchmil has hit back at Denis Menchov after the Russian rider claimed he had been treated unfairly during contract negotiations with the team this summer.

    Menchov was widely expected to become team leader at Katusha and a figurehead for Russian cycling but opted to join the Geox-TMC team. At the weekend he told the Biciciclismo website he was disappointed with the way he was treated by Tchmil.

    “I think I deserved a different attitude. As it is a Russian team and a national cycling project, I think it could have behaved differently with me and not the same as though I were any other rider on the market,” Menchov said.

    Tchmil responded with a long open letter, claiming he was snubbed during negotiations despite personally travelling to Barcelona to meet Menchov. He ended his letter by saying Menchov will never have a place in the team, if continues to be managed in this way.

    “I really doubt that a smart person like that rider could have expressed such an opinion without some pressure, also because I’ve followed him carefully as a rider – I went to Barcelona to talk with him in person – and as a man,” Tchmil said in the letter issued by the Katusha team.

    “If to be treated in a better way” means more money, then – as far as I know – I have to admit that our basic offer was much higher than his current salary at Geox-TMC, and I’m confident that we could have reached an arrangement. And not because he’s a Russian rider but because I think he’s really worth it.”

    “I work for the good of the Team, and we have not only a sport goal, but also a social one too. Menchov would have been welcome but despite the promises of his agent to talk about his signing after Tour de France and Barcelona, I did not hear from anybody. While I was awaiting a meeting and I was considering a draft proposal from his...

  • Rider killed in highway crash

    The scene of the accident in southern Italy where eight cyclists on a training ride were killed by a motorist.
    Article published:
    December 09, 2010, 1:07 GMT
    Cycling News

    Head on impact with drunk driver kills rider instantly

    Just days after eight people were killed in Italy after an intoxicated driver ran into their training group (pictured right), a man has died after being hit by a drunk driver on the Pacific Highway near Gwandalan, on the NSW central coast.

    The deceased was believed to be in his 30s and riding with a woman in the highway's breakdown lane at about 6.15am when a sedan, driven by a 30-year-old man, struck the rider head on. The impact threw the rider into the oncoming lane and he died instantly.

    Police have confirmed that the vehicle's driver returned a positive roadside breathe test and he has been taken to Toukley police station where he is assisting with enquiries.

    The female rider was unharmed.