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First Edition Cycling News, Thursday, February 11, 2010

Date published:
February 11, 2010, 0:00 GMT
  • North American race briefs: 10-race Pro Tour series, Dairyland Tour adds field

    David Zabriskie (Garmin - Slipstream) puts in a winning ride at the US Pro Time Trial Championships
    Article published:
    February 10, 2010, 20:30 GMT
    Cycling News

    Locals fight to revive Gastown, Take a survey!

    USA Cycling announced the fourth edition of the USA Cycling Professional Tour which consists of ten high profile events this season.

    The 2010 Pro Tour features four major multi-day stage races across the country: the Tours of California, New York, Missouri and the Univest Grand Prix and six additional one-day events, including five road races, one criterium and one time trial.

    A first time event will kick off the calendar. The Tour of The Battenkill, a newly minted UCI race, takes place on Sunday, April 18 in Upstate New York's Washington County.

    The second race of the series, the Amgen Tour of California, moves to its later slot, now running eight days from May 16 to 23. Next up is the 26th edition of the TD Bank Philadelphia International Championship on June 6.

    The circuit will then move to Providence, Rhode Island for the U.S. Open of Cycling on July 4 followed by the 2.2-rated Tour de New York from August 7-12. The USA Cycling Professional Criterium Championships will then take place Aug. 14 in a location still to be determined.

    The Tour of Missouri will this year serve as the seventh of 10 total events, from August 31- September 6, while the the Univest Grand Prix will bring the series back to Pennsylvania for the 2.2-rated event, consisting of a circuit race on Saturday, Sept. 11 and a road race in and around Souderton on Sept. 12.

    For the fifth consecutive year, Greenville, South Carolina will welcome the USA Cycling Professional Road and Time Trial National Championships on September 18 and 19 as the two final events of the series.

    Following the donning of the Stars-and-Stripes in Greenville, the overall Pro Tour standings will be used to determine an individual and a team champion who are considered the best and most consistent performers in international-caliber racing in the US. Last year David Zabriskie claimed the top prize, while Columbia-HTC took home the team title.

    2010 USA...

  • Zabriskie zeros in on Tour of California

    Dave Zabriskie, 2009 Tour of Missouri champion, seeks the top step of the Tour of California podium in 2010.
    Article published:
    February 11, 2010, 0:07 GMT
    Daniel Benson

    US time trial champ hopes to end Leipheimer's three-year reign

    Dave Zabriskie finished second to Levi Leipheimer in the 2009 Amgen Tour of California but is aiming to go one better this year after stage three and four were announced by race organisers today. Stage three takes the riders from San Francisco to Santa Cruz, while stage four travels from San Jose to Modesto.

    However, Zabriskie believes that the final three stages will be critical if he is to topple Levi Leipheimer from three years of domination at the race. Last year Zabriskie finished behind Leipheimer on every stage but was his closest challenger, finishing 36 seconds down in the final overall classification.

    "I'd like to in top form for California," Zabriskie told Cyclingnews from his home in Gerona, Spain.

    "I'll see most of the stages through reconnaissance and I'm 100 percent sure I'll check out the time trial on stage seven and the Big Bear stage."

    Winning the Tour of California will mark Zabriskie's first major goal for 2010, before aiming to hold his form through until the Tour de France in July. However, the American isn't willing to put all his eggs in one basket. "It's a big goal. There are other ones but this is a big goal for me, the team and a lot of American riders. It's kind of like America's Super Bowl of cycling and it gets a lot of attention. I really enjoy racing it.

    "Cali isn't going to be easy but I'll take it day-by-day there and see how I'm going. It's still too early to call. All I know for certain is that those last three days look pretty difficult. The time trial is a little different, too. The last day is really hard; it's one of the hardest days I've seen for a finishing circuit."

    Zabriskie is the reigning US time trial champion and believes that racing against the clock could be the one area where he could have an edge over Leipheimer, who has built his three wins in the race on strong performances against the clock. Last year Leipheimer put just eight seconds into Zabriskie...

  • Valverde plays it smart in Méditerranéen

    Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne) waits for racing to get underway
    Article published:
    February 11, 2010, 1:39 GMT
    Cycling News

    Solid opening day performance sets up overall chance

    Alejandro Valverde has maintained the good form he displayed during January's Tour Down Under with a solid showing in the first stage of the Tour Méditerranéen Cycliste Professionnel in Souvain.

    Shortened to 95km, the stage won by Française des Jeux's Yauheni Hutarovich was cold, windy and the early pace took its toll on the field. Whilst the Belarusian grabbed line honours, Valverde looks set to make a run on the overall title with Mt Faron beckoning on the final day.

    "The first stage should have been 123km long but yesterday the organisers told us that it would be shorter - only 95 kilometres," said Valverde. "It was very windy today and considering the fact that the stage only started at 1:30pm, we thought it was a good idea to go and see the first kilometres of the stage," he explained.

    "We rode about 40km, which was really the right decision for two reasons: it gave us the chance to warm up before a short stage which was supposed to be a fast one - the thermometer indicated three degrees at the time the stage started - and we got to know what the first kilometres looked like and to know exactly from which direction the wind came, which would be very useful."

    Armed with its knowledge of the stage, Valverde explained that Caisse d'Epargne took the race to the opposition in attempt to exploit the conditions. "After only three kilometres the entire team forced the pace of the bunch which broke in different parts. We did exactly the same seven kilometres further on and about 20 riders were in the break.

    "I was there with three team-mates: Txente García Acosta, Mathieu Drujon and Arnaud Coyot and we worked to the end to increase the gap more and more," said Valverde.

    The 2009 Vuelta a España champion says that the result of his team's work in the testing conditions has established his place as a favourite for the title, with four stages remaining.

    "I had very good legs and...

  • Angry Haussler still looking for Qatar success

    Heinrich Haussler (Cervélo) cools down after finishing second in the sprint.
    Article published:
    February 11, 2010, 1:57 GMT
    Stephen Farrand

    Aussie-born German wants windier stages

    Cervélo TestTeam's Heinrich Haussler went close to victory yet again at the Tour of Qatar on Wednesday but his team's hard work in the sprints left the Australian-born German yet again on the podium as someone else snatched the stage win.

    Tom Boonen (Quick Step) beat Haussler on Tuesday in Mesaieed, and on Wednesday, Italy's Francesco Chicchi (Liquigas-Doimo) got the better of the men in black on the Al Khor Corniche.

    Haussler was again second in the sprint, while new teammate and former track sprint world champion Theo Bos was fourth behind JJ Haedo (Saxo Bank).

    "We've still got two more days to work it out and have a go,” Haussler told Cyclingnews after pulling on the silver points jersey. “We can hopefully win a stage and perhaps the overall too. We're not going to give up and we're going to keep riding as a team. But if we want to win the Tour we need some wind.

    "We went close but it was crazy out there,” he added. “It's always like that when the stage is so easy, there's no selection and everyone thinks they're a sprint and wants to get in there amongst it all. It was pretty dangerous."

    Chicchi was impressive in the tailwind sprint as he came off Bos' wheel with 300 metres to go. Yet Haussler was convinced he could have won if he'd been on his teammate’s back wheel and able to benefit from Bos' spectacular acceleration.

    Cervélo TestTeam tried to lead out the sprint but after the final roundabout, it was Haussler who failed to latch on to Bos' back wheel. Blunt and forthright, Haussler was the first to admit he had made a mistake.

    "We were going to lead out because we knew it was a tailwind after the last roundabout,” said Haussler. “We'd planned to hit the front with five guys and then go as fast as we could. It almost came off.

    "Theo Bos was going to lead me out but I had to came back from 15th position and so couldn’t get...

  • Gutiérrez grabs third on Caisse's day out

    José Ivan Gutierrez (Caisse D'Epargne) on the podium
    Article published:
    February 11, 2010, 2:16 GMT
    Cycling News

    Mallorca provides plenty for Spanish squad

    Race four of the Challenge Ciclista a Mallorca - the Trofeo Deià- was a bountiful day for Caisse d'Epargne, with Rui Alberto Costa taking his first win of 2010 and José Iván Gutiérrez securing third place on the podium.

    The experienced Spaniard attributed his good form to Caisse d'Epargne's recent stint in Australia, where the team trained then raced the Santos Tour Down Under. Despite the extreme difference in climatic conditions, Gutiérrez managed to ride a good race after several testing days battling the weather.

    "I feel rather well. This is the result of the work I achieved last winter and also of the great training sessions we had under the Australian sun," said Gutiérrez. "To be in ahead of these races in spite of the bad weather we have in Mallorca is a good signal."

    The third race in the Challenge Ciclista a Mallorca - the Trofeo Inca - was marred by attrocious weather, with a plethora of riders not completing the stage or finishing outside the time limit. Linus Gerdemann took the win but the day was unsurprisingly remembered for the manic conditions faced by riders.

    "Yesterday's stage was a completely crazy one because there were so many attacks. It was also a dangerous one because the roads were so slippery. I was very attentive and stayed in front all the time and principally on the descents. For that reason I was able to finish sixth in the stage," he added.

    While Alejandro Valverde, Txente García Acosta, Mathieu Drujon and Arnaud Coyot were forcing the pace in stage one of the Tour Méditerranéen Cycliste Professionnel, Rui Costa and Gutiérrez were flying the Caisse d'Epargne flag in Spain with good results. Gutiérrez says his performances thus far in 2010 have established what promises to be a great season for the 31-year-old.

    "Today I was closer to victory but considering team-mate Rui Costa was in the lead I could obviously...

  • HTC-Columbia pinning Oman hopes on Pinotti

    Italian champion Marco Pinotti (Columbia) races the GP Stresa
    Article published:
    February 11, 2010, 2:58 GMT
    Greg Johnson

    Italian time trialer to be protected

    HTC-Columbia is looking to make Italian time trial specialist Marco Pinotti the first Tour of Oman winner next week, according to sport director Valerio Piva. While the squad will also have strong sprint representation, it’s looking to protect Pinotti through to the final day’s time trial.

    "We're bringing in Marco Pinotti especially for Oman because he'll be good for that time trial," said Piva. "Then we've got Bernhard and Leigh Howard, who are both fast riders, for the sprints too.

    "We'll try to protect Marco so he doesn't lose any time in the first five days,” he added. “He hasn't done Qatar like some of the other time-triallists who'll be taking part, so he should be fresher. We're definitely feeling optimistic about his chances."

    Pinotti will be just one of two riders in HTC-Columbia’s Oman roster that aren’t competing in this week’s Tour of Qatar. Australia’s Leigh Howard will join Pinotti and five other teammates who are currently in Qatar.

    HTC-Columbia’s Bernhard Eisel believes the final stage’s 18 kilometre individual time trial will shape tactics throughout the race. The ITT is preceded by five road stages, which are hillier than those in Qatar. The time trial circuit on February 19 will run through the streets of Muscat, Oman’s capital city.

    "The time-trial being on the last stage will shape events a lot,” said Eisel. “The teams, like us, with time trial specialists will try to control the race so they get to that last day in a good position.

    "It's probably not going to be such a nervous race as Qatar, although it's hillier too, so it won't be straightforward,” he added. "Normally at this point in the season I get in a stage win at the Tour of the Algarve in Portugal and hopefully history will repeat itself in Oman."

    HTC-Columbia Tour of Oman roster: Lars Bak (Den), Gert Dockx (Bel), Bernhard...

  • O Brother, Where Art Thou? On Mallorca!

    Enjoying his moment in the sun
    Article published:
    February 11, 2010, 10:06 GMT
    Cycling News

    Four sets of brothers in the Mallorca Challenge

    Yell “Hey, brother!” at the Mallorca Challenge this week and you are apt to get eight answers. Four pairs of brothers, on five different teams, are starting their season on the Mediterranean island.

    Vicente and Marc Reynes are on separate teams. Vicente, 28, rides for HTC-Columbia, and won a stage here in 2007. Marc, 21, is making his pro debut with the Polish Continental team PSK Whirlpool.

    Also on separate teams are Jose Ivan Gutierrez Palacios and David Gutierrez Palacios. Jose, 31, is with Caisse d'Epargne, while David, 22, is making his pro debut this year with Footon-Servetto.

    Team Milram is also sending a pair of brothers to the race, Markus, 28, and Thomas Fothen, 26. Both have ridden the Mallorca Challenge in the past. Markus started his season at the Tour Down Under, while Thomas is opening at Mallorca.

    Whirlpool PSK has the most brothers of any team, as in addition to the younger Reynes, it features youngsters Jakub, 21, and Tomas Danacik, 19, of the Czech Republic. Jakub has been with the team since 2007, and Tomas turned pro last year with the Continental team CK Windoor's Pribram.

    There was supposed to be a fourth pair of brothers in the race, Fränk and Andy Schleck of Saxo Bank. However, the younger brother dropped out at the last minute due to knee problems, leaving his 29-year-old older brother to soldier on alone.

  • Miche happy to give Rasmussen a second chance

    Michael Rasmussen returns with the Italian Miche team.
    Article published:
    February 11, 2010, 10:32 GMT
    Cycling News

    Team owner says Dane cannot leave team during season

    Miche Pro Cycling Team is happy with its new signing, Michael Rasmussen, and hopes to hold the Danish rider beyond the 2010 season.

    Rasmussen served a two-year suspension for misrepresenting his whereabouts before the 2007 Tour de France.

    "I felt that Rasmussen has the right to have a second chance like Basso and other riders when they have served their suspension,” Marco Tozzi, owner of the Italian Continental-ranked team, told

    Tozzi expects results from Rasmussen this year. “We have a good program in both Italy and the rest of Europe where he can test himself against the great riders from both ProTour and professional teams. We expect great things from him. We remember Michael's former level well.”

    Rasmussen, 35, will no doubt want to score results in order to look for a contract with a bigger squad. But a team change would come only after the season, not during the season, Tozzi said. "He has a contract for 2010 with no escape clauses. So this year, he represents the Miche team. Next year I do not know yet, but I hope he stays with us.”

    So far this season, Rasmussen has finished eighth overall in the Tour de San Luis and 81st in the Giro della Provincia di Reggio Calabria.