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First Edition Cycling News, Thursday, February 16, 2012

Date published:
February 16, 2012, 0:00 GMT
  • Andy Schleck focused more than ever on the Tour de France

    Andy Schleck speaks at a presscon onboard the ferry on the way to stage 2 at the Tour of Oman
    Article published:
    February 15, 2012, 17:30 GMT
    Barry Ryan

    Impromptu presscon in Oman for likely 2010 Tour winner

    Andy Schleck can hardly have expected to have held his first press conference as a Tour de France winner on the car deck of a ship in the Gulf of Oman, but it was perhaps in keeping with the absurdity that has surrounded the protracted Alberto Contador case.

    At a makeshift gathering on the sea transfer from Muscat to the start of stage 2 of the Tour of Oman on Wednesday, Schleck chose his words carefully while members of the press struggled to keep their feet around him.

    Contador's positive test for clenbuterol at the 2010 Tour de France triggered a lengthy legal process that ended with the Court of Arbitration for Sport's decision to uphold appeals from the UCI and WADA to sanction the rider. Schleck, who finished second in Paris, now stands to replace Contador in the record books, even if the official Tour de France website continues to list the Spaniard as the 2010 champion for now. He told reporters that he was in no hurry to claim a belated yellow jersey.

    "I had the yellow during that 2010 Tour for six days. I don't want to get the yellow jersey now," said Schleck. "For me being on the start line with number 1 on my back or 11 like I had the last three years, it doesn't change anything. It's just a back number."

    Schleck's surrounds summed up the paradox of being named the winner of a race almost two years after the event. The hold of the HSC Hormuz is a long way from the...

  • Perget recuperating from fractured pelvis sustained in Argentina

    Mathieu Perget (Ag2R-La Mondiale) fractured his pelvis after crashing in stage 5 at the Tour de San Luis.
    Article published:
    February 15, 2012, 20:06 GMT
    Cycling News

    Frenchman hopes to return to racing in April

    Mathieu Perget (Ag2R-La Mondiale) is recuperating at home in southwestern France from a fractured pelvis sustained in late January at the Tour de San Luis. The 27-year-old Frenchman's 2012 season came to an abrupt halt on January 27 when he crashed heavily on stage 5 in the Argentinean stage race. Despite the injury, Perget is in good spirits and expects to return to racing in April.

    "The results of medical exams I underwent last week are quite reassuring," said Perget in a statement released by his team. "A small rib fracture was detected. This is what caused a pain in my back but it hasn't bothered me since last Monday.

    "Otherwise, I'm finally moved from the wheelchair to the pair of crutches. At first I could not move my leg as the muscles wake up slowly but gradually everything is returning back to normal. The operation was well done and the healing progresses. I also started physiotherapy sessions on Monday. I did some work on a exercise bike and it’s clear that the bike is really a great sport to rehabilitate! I'm on the right path.

    With the stint of inclement weather battering riders throughout Europe, Perget finds a silver lining in his recovery at home.

    "I’m in good spirits. I am well supported, in particular by my wife. I really want to come back on competition but I don’t want to skip steps. When I see the weather across the country with snow and cold temperatures, I tell myself that at least I'm spared myself all this. I must find some positives sides to my injury!"

  • Cooke steps up to the mark for GreenEdge

    Baden Cooke from Victoria will be handing down a wealth of knowledge to GreenEdge youngsters during season 2012.
    Article published:
    February 15, 2012, 22:27 GMT
    Barry Ryan

    Australian takes second place in Oman

    When GreenEdge's designated leader Matt Goss told his teammates that he didn't have the legs to compete for the win on stage 2 of the Tour of Oman, Baden Cooke threw his hat into the ring to contest the sprint.

    Although the Australian was denied victory by Peter Sagan (Liquigas-Cannondale), his second place finish vindicated his decision to step up to the plate. In a roster laden with sprinting talent, he was mindful that such opportunities to compete for the win will be at a premium throughout the year.

    "We've got a pretty complete team here, so I'm not expecting to have a bucket load of chances, so today when Gossy wasn't up, I put my hand up and I was glad I could get some kind of a result," Cooke said shortly after crossing the line overlooking Wadi Dayqah Dam.

    "There were a couple of guys who were good today. Allan Davis was also there and Sebastiaan Langeveld was good too, but I said in this campaign this was the first time I put my hand right up, so they respected that and let me have a go."

    Goss was an absentee from GreenEdge's Tour of Qatar line-up, but while Cooke could well have had other opportunities to try his luck in the sprint there, he felt that his form last week was not sufficient to merit his teammates' help.

    "We have so many options that I said I wouldn't put my hand up unless I was good," he said. "So in Qatar there wasn't any one day that I put my hand up, but today I knew I was good."

    As the race entered the final 30 kilometres, the breakaway had a lead of three minutes over the peloton, and the chase was beginning to organise itself behind. It was...

  • Gallery: Landbouwkrediet-Euphony team presentation

    Davy Commeyne, Bert De Waele, Kevin Claeys, Baptiste Planckaert and Sven Vanthourenhout at the Landbouwkrediet-Euphony presentation.
    Article published:
    February 16, 2012, 2:45 GMT
    Cycling News

    Belgian Pro Continental squad introduces 2012 roster

    The Belgian Professional Continental team Landbouwkrediet - Euphony presented its 2012 roster and has high hopes for a season in which two of its riders have already earned Belgian national championships: Sven Nys in cyclo-cross and Jonathan Breyne on the track for derny racing.

    Landbouwkrediet has been the team's title sponsor for 12 years and the bank's CEO Luc Versele is proud of their involvement in cycling. "In recent years Landbouwkrediet has grown into a respected team in the bunch, with a strong presence and high visibility. Many important races in Belgium were facilitated by glimpses of our riders and we were often represented by one or more of our riders in the finales.

    "[Team manager] Gerard Bulens managed to keep its leaders, he hired Kurt Hovelijnck to find a program to the best of his abilities and faithful to the tradition a few young riders are called to replace Edwig Cammaerts and Aidis Kruopis, and who through their results in 2011 earned a quick promotion."

    The team will be led by Bert De Waele, Frédéric Amorison and Bobbie Traksel, who's looking to bounce back from an injury suffered in an April 2011 crash which seriously damaged the nerve endings in his left hand.

    Versele also spoke about how the team provides a means for its cyclo-cross stars such as Sven Nys, Vincent Baestaens and Sven Vanthourenhout a means to race on the road in summer months and lay the foundation for 'cross season.

    2012 is also important for Nys as he seeks a spot on Belgium's Olympic team for mountain biking.

  • Perth Criteriums wrap up, Genesys takes early season edge over Budget

    Going well: Anthony Giacoppo has progressed nicely for Andrew Christie-Johnston and his Genesys Wealth Advisers team. After a good year in 2011, Giacoppo has begun 2012 with a bang winning a stage of the recent Jayco Bay Cycling Classic series and now striking gold in Ballarat.
    Article published:
    February 16, 2012, 4:50 GMT
    Cycling News

    West Australian Giacoppo does national champion's jersey proud

    An electric four nights of racing in Western Australia came to a close on Tuesday night, with Luke Davison (Budget Forklifts) and Leonie Burford (Hays Recruting) taking the final night’s victories to conclude the fifth edition of the Smokefree Perth Criterium Series.

    The story however was of a local rider, Australian criterium champion Anthony Giacoppo (Genesys Wealth Advisers) who continued the run of form he displayed at the Jayco Bay Classic Series and the nationals, by taking two stage wins, as well as the overall. Impressively the 25-year-old never finished lower than second, in spite of the best efforts of the Eddy Hollands, Budget Forklifts and Plan B teams, and sounds an ominous warning to his domestic rivals that he'll be a hard man to beat in 2012.

    "It's a race that I've always wanted to win, I was looking forward to it, and really motivated particulalry after January," said Giacoppo to Cyclingnews. "Wearing the green and gold jersey, the bike, I think if anything it added a little more pressure, but I was really happy to be able to get the overall win. The four of us [Sam Davis, Alex Carver and Pat Shaw] worked really well together all week, I think it's a great sign for us ahead of our next stint of racing [in Asia]."

    Davis, also a local, took out the second stage, to add to Giacoppo's wins, to complete a brilliant week for the Tasmanian-based Genesys Wealth Advisers team. NRS rivals Budget Forklifts, played second fiddle for much of the series but did manage pick up some consolation in their 'home...

  • Sagan exceeds all logic in Oman

    Peter Sagan (Liquigas-Cannondale) celebrates winning stage two of the Tour of Oman
    Article published:
    February 16, 2012, 6:08 GMT
    Barry Ryan

    Slovak powers clear to stage two victory

    On a finale which seemed to rule out the purest sprinters but which also didn't suit a solo attack, a simple process of deduction made Peter Sagan (Liquigas-Cannondale) the favourite for the win on stage two of the Tour of Oman.

    The Slovak duly delivered, and stomped up the final ramp to the finish line in a startling show of strength. Indeed, in only his third year as a professional and still just 22 years of age, Sagan's performances at times seem to exceed all logic.

    Wednesday afternoon in Wadi Dayqah Dam was another such occasion. With Baden Cooke (GreenEdge) already in full flight, Sagan opened the throttle with 280 metres to go and motored past to take the win with disarming ease.

    As he stood at the finish line afterwards, there was a degree of fatalism about Sagan's description of his win. "I went quite early because it seemed that the others were already launching their sprints, and then it came as it came," he said.

    Having felt his way into the season at the Tour of Qatar, Sagan stalled to fifth place on the opening day in Oman, but the question appeared to be when, and not whether, his first win of the season would arrive on the Arabian Peninsula.

    "I'm very happy that my first win came here already," Sagan said. "In Qatar I raced to get back into race rhythm, so in this race I could try and go for the win. I'm very happy that it's arrived now."

    With another such uphill finish line promised on stage four, Sagan should have an opportunity to add to his bounty later in the week. "I don't know yet, I haven't looked at the stages," he said.

    After pausing to smile bashfully for photographs with an enthusiastic horde of local children, Sagan was ushered...

  • Pegasus Racing investigated by Australian Taxation Office?

    Chris White.
    Article published:
    February 16, 2012, 9:50 GMT
    Jane Aubrey

    Virgin Australia confirms that a financial settlement has been reached

    Cyclingnews has learned that Pegasus Racing, which in 2011 operated in the form of UCI Continental team V Australia, is the focus of an investigation by the Australian Taxation Office following (ATO) numerous complaints by former riders. White denies that any such investigation is underway.

    Under Australian law, employers must contribute an additional nine per cent of an eligible employee's wages into a compliant superannuation fund. Failure to do so results in the superannuation guarantee charge which is composed of the amount of the unpaid super contribution plus an administrative penalty and some interest. Payments then go back to the employees. At the beginning of this financial year (July 1, 2011), significant penalties were introduced by the Australian Federal Government making company directors, which in the case of Pegasus Racing is Chris White, personally liable for their company's failure to pay employee superannuation.

    The ATO does not comment on individual's tax affairs.

    Cyclingnews contacted White and he said that news of the ATO investigation was "completely untrue" adding he "did not wish to continue the conversation" before hanging up.

    White later contacted Cyclingnews:

    "I'm not being investigated [by the ATO] to my knowledge," he stated. "No one from the tax office has called me or made any contact with me in any way, shape or form."

    Meantime, former sponsor Virgin Australia confirmed to Cyclingnews late last week that a financial settlement between the airline and White had been reached following negotiations which lasted several months.

    "Negotiations have concluded, and contents of the contract and agreement remain confidential," a spokeswoman for Virgin Australia informed Cyclingnews.

    Pegasus Racing's contract with V Australia was renewed in May 2011 year but in September the airline informed White that financial sponsorship would not...

  • Wiggins and Froome make season debuts in Algarve

    Bradley Wiggins
    Article published:
    February 16, 2012, 10:06 GMT
    Daniel Benson

    Sky duo begin road to the Tour de France

    Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome began their racing seasons on Wednesday with the start of the Volta ao Algarve in Portugal. The Sky pairing are using the race to gauge their form after a break from racing stretching back to the Worlds last year.

    On yesterday’s first stage Froome kept pace with the leaders while Wiggins lost a handful of seconds. However Sky’s Bobby Julich believes that the greater goal is to assess form as the team’s major goals come later in the season.

    “It was the first race for a lot of guys,” Julich told Cyclingnews.

    “It was a pretty brutal stage, difficult rolling course but a beautiful day in terms of conditions. Obviously not everyone can be in the finish on a stage like that but I’m really happy with how the guys rode. “

    Wiggins’s race programme will mirror that to a number of his grand tour rivals with the British star aiming to peak at the Tour de France this year. Last year he arrived at the race in high form having won the Dauphine Libere, but crashed out of the race with a broken collar bone. He returned to fitness at the end of the year to podium in both Vuelta and Worlds.

    “He’s been doing training blocks over the winter so it was his first race, as it was for Froome too. Everyone here is just looking to gauge their form and fitness. It’s not a WorldTour event but obviously everyone has worked really hard over the winter but they’re looking to see where they are against the other guys.”

    Julich said that the team will target stage wins if the opportunities present themselves....