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First Edition Cycling News, Thursday, February 2, 2012

Date published:
February 02, 2012, 0:00 GMT
  • GreenEdge-AIS impress in Qatari deserts baptism of fire

    The international debut of the GreenEdge-AIS team
    Article published:
    February 01, 2012, 23:33 GMT
    Alex Hinds

    Team places three riders in decisive seven-woman break

    GreenEdge-AIS’ performance at the Ladies Tour of Qatar was always going to be a bellwether moment for the predominantly Australian squad.

    The Jayco Bay Classic series, the Australian Road National championships and the Santos Women’s Cup had all been unblemished success stories. But even the team would admit that the level of competition there would be incomparable to what they were expecting in Europe, and in their first race in Qatar.

    Dave McPartland was thus a justly proud director at the finish to stage 1 of the race, with the GreenEdge-AIS women placing three riders; Judith Arndt, Alex Rhodes and Loes Gunnewijk in the decisive seven-rider break, and setting the team up well for a strong bid at the general classification.

    "The depth of the field here is a higher quality than what we faced in January in Australia," admitted McPartland. "That said, I’m especially impressed with how the team rode together today.

    "They split the race and put three riders in the top seven. In Australia, we could dictate the entire race. Here, we can’t really do that, but we rode in a really, really good position."

    Kirsten Wild (Netherlands) won the stage, with Specialized-lululemon's Chloe Hosking and Elen Van Dijk completing the top three.

    McPartland said the team would be chasing the bonus seconds on offer over the next few days to improve the positions of Arndt, Rhodes and Gunnewijk. The race can likely only be won now by one of 19 riders, and GreenEdge-AIS have five in that group. Though they missed the win today, there's nothing to suggest the team won't be standing on the top step of the GC podium in two days time in Katara.

    "We missed the stage podium today, which is disappointing, but as we saw, the team is strong and in a good...

  • Tour of Utah announces host cities for 2012

    Levi Leipheimer (RadioShack) staying tucked in the bunch.
    Article published:
    February 02, 2012, 1:00 GMT
    Neil Browne

    Stage race to begin in Ogden, August 7

    The Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah revealed the cities and venues of the 2012 edition. In its second year as a UCI rated stage race, the Tour of Utah has made some changes, eliminating the prologue and adding the team time trial. The Tour of Utah starts Tuesday, August 7th in Ogden and concludes Sunday, August 12th, in Park City.

    Last year the Tour of Utah, with its position on the race calendar just after the Tour de France and prior to the USA Pro Cycling Challenge in Colorado, attracted a strong field which included BMC, Garmin-Cervelo (now Garmin-Barracuda), RadioShack, HTC-Highroad, Liquigas-Cannondale, along with America's domestic squads. Defending Tour of Utah champion Levi Leipheimer (RadioShack) won the 2011 race, but the animators were the Colombian Gobernacion de Antioquia-Indeportes Antiquia team.

    The Utah organizers are expecting 16 domestic and international teams to accept the invitation to compete in what they call "America's toughest stage race."

    The prologue is not part of this year's parcours. Instead day one is a full road race stage starting in Ogden in the northern part of Utah. This is the fifth time the city has hosted the race.

    Day two the peloton heads to the Miller Motorsports Park. In the past this has been the venue for the individual race against the clock. However, the format has changed to a team time trial – the first in a North American UCI stage race since the 2008 Tour de Georgia. The track contains numerous curves with only a few tight turns. While not especially technical, teams will have to be diligent for the entire distance.

    "Part of our goal for the Tour of Utah is to keep it fresh and exciting," said Steve Miller, president of the Tour of Utah. "We inadvertently tweeted (last year) that we were going to do a team time trial – the tweet...

  • Champion System taking "nothing for granted" in Qatar

    BMX star-turned-roadie Steven Wong (right) pops a wheelie beside Matthias Friedemann during a team training ride on the island of Hainan.
    Article published:
    February 02, 2012, 4:30 GMT
    Cycling News

    ProContinental team looking to build off Clarke's solid start

    With Champion System's first training camp over and done with, the ProContinental outfit is looking ahead to its season-opening race, the Tour of Qatar.

    More than 200 people attended a final presentation and press conference last week in Hong Kong for the first Asian-based pro continental team. The event capped nearly a month of media sessions and training in mainland China and garnered coverage on Hong Kong's three major TV newscasts and in 10 newspapers.

    "I am amazed at the overwhelming reception the team received at both the Beijing and Hong Kong presentations," Champion System Pro Cycling Team General Manager Ed Beamon said. "It's very rewarding to see how the mainstream media has already embraced the team and shown its enthusiasm for the new project."

    Even before its first race of the season, Champion System has received a good share of attention thanks to Australian Will Clarke's stage win at the Santos Tour Down Under in mid-January. Riding for Team UniSA-Australia, the 26-year-old Tasmanian soloed the final 70 kilometers to win stage 2 in Stirling.

    "I'm pretty happy with how the race went and it has given me some renewed confidence in myself for this year," Clarke said. "I have not raced Qatar or Oman, from what I hear they are hard and pretty fast – with Qatar usually being decided by strong cross winds. Of the two races, I am looking forward to Oman more because there will be more variation in the course and it should suit me better. I am also looking forward to seeing what I can do there and also racing with my new teammates."

    Beamon said the team won't be deterred by a field at Qatar that's heavily laden with ProTeam talent.

    "We know it's a difficult race and will require a lot of focus, but I think we have a strong...

  • "Reborn" Walker overcomes tachycardia, makes return with Drapac

    Will Walker has joined GreenEDGE cycling in a development role, with the view of becoming a sporting director in 2012.
    Article published:
    February 02, 2012, 5:17 GMT
    Jane Aubrey

    Australia's National Road Series on immediate agenda

    Having made a premature exit from the sport in 2009 due to tachycardia, former Australian Champion Will Walker has announced he is returning to racing with Drapac Professional Cycling.

    Walker, who claimed a silver medal in the under 23 road race at the 2005 UCI World Championships in Spain, has been given the all-clear by doctors to return to competition backing up the feeling within himself that he was ready to give racing a second dig.

    The 26-year-old spoke to Cyclingnews following today's announcement by the Australian Continental outfit, explaining that a range of testing including regular electrocardiograms (ECGs), stress tests and echocardiograms indicate that he was back to full health.

    "I just started doing some rides with my brothers [fellow cyclists Johnnie and Nick] and locally and I was going quite well off very little training and my heart was feeling good again and I just thought at 26, it was a good time to get back into it again and give it one last chance," Walker, who rode with Rabobank and Fuji Servetto in his previous racing life, said.

    "I did a few times hard as I could uphill so I basically knew in myself that my heart was on the way back."

    Drapac's sporting director, Agostino Giramondo, says the key to successful return by the two-time grand tour rider is sustainability.

    "Will has been set a very thorough medical program to monitor his progress, which includes providing the team with a fortnightly report on his progress," he said in the Drapac's media release.

    "The team is committed to helping Will reach his full potential once again on the bike but his health and general well being will always be a priority.

    "We would class a healthy return to cycling a success and if he were able to achieve results on the road this would...

  • Kittel getting on with racing after ARD accusations

    Marcel Kittel (Project 1t4i) finished second
    Article published:
    February 02, 2012, 9:12 GMT
    Cycling News

    Project 1t4i rider places second in Bessèges after difficult week

    German Marcel Kittel is moving on from a hellish week that saw the star sprinter implicated in a blood doping investigation by German television broadcaster ARD - by racing his bike. Kittel started his season in the Etoile de Bessèges in France yesterday, and picked up a narrow second behind Nacer Bouhanni.

    Happy to have turned a page, Kittel was just "glad to be on the road again together with my boys".

    "I felt okay today but we have to improve our work in the final," said Kittel on twitter. "I was on position 15 at 600 metres to go [but it didn't quite work out]. But anyway thanks to my team for their work and support here in France! It's great to have such people around me!"

    On Sunday the German broadcaster ARD aired a show that shed light on Dr. Andreas Franke, who worked at an Olympic training site in Erfurt. The show named Kittel as a patient of the doctor and two current teammates later admitted that they attended the clinic.

    Kittel has been absolved of any wrongdoing but came under intense scrutiny from the German and world media in the wake of the report.

    He told Cyclingnews on Monday evening that  "it has been unbelievably hard and I'm just happy I have my people around me".

    Etoile de Bessèges continues tomorrow with a 149 kilometre stage from Nîmes to Saint-Ambroix.

  • Video: Vansummeren aware of Classics pressure

    Johan Van Summeren took part in the sprint training too
    Article published:
    February 02, 2012, 10:16 GMT
    Daniel Benson

    Paris-Roubaix winner says team has strength in depth

    If any ride in 2011 illustrated that cycling is a team sport it was perhaps Johan Vansummeren’s winning performance in Paris-Roubaix. The Garmin rider wasn’t the favourite going into the race, he wasn’t the strongest either, but clever team tactics and timing saw him snatch a thrilling victory.

    With another Classics campaign just weeks away Vansummeren has been training with his teammates in Spain but will head to Qatar for the start of his racing season.

    In this exclusive video for Cyclingnews, the Paris-Roubaix winner talks about his expectations for the year. Yes. he’s looking forward to it [ed. has to say that] but he also admits that he’s ‘a little scared’ about the prospect of being on the radar in such pressurised races.

    The team are without Thor Hushovd this year but the Classics squad remains competitive – Heinrich Haussler is fitter after a year of full racing, Fabian Wegmann has been drafted in for the Ardennes and Sébastien Rosseler joins from RadioShack.

    Ramunas Navardauskas, who kept Van Summeren out of the Tour de France team last year, is also expected to race the spring classics.

  • Gallery: Lotto Belisol on top despite changes

    Honey I shrunk the pro team
    Article published:
    February 02, 2012, 11:05 GMT
    Cycling News

    Greipel, Vanendert and Van den Broeck to lead Belgian team

    Lotto Belisol is going into the 2012 season with a new name and a new combination of sponsors, and without world number one rider Philippe Gilbert. But the Belgian team has gotten off to a booming start, with sprinter Andre Greipel taking three WorldTour stage wins at the Santos Tour Down Under.

    Greipel will be one of the top riders at the team this year, along with Jurgen Van den Broeck and Jelle Vanendert. All three riders were present as the team was presented Thursday in Brussels.

    “I hope the form I showed in Australia will hold for a while,” Greipel said. The sprinter has his eye on the earlier Spring Classics of Milan-San Remo and Paris-Roubaix.

    The later Classics will be for Vanendert, who last year broke through with strong performances in those very races, including a sixth place in the Fleche Wallonne. He capped his year by winning the 14th stage of the Tour de France atop the Plateau de Beille, not bad for his very first pro win.

    Van den Broeck's “absolute goal” this year is the Tour de France. “A place in the top five on my dream course would be great.” After suffering a collapsed lung, two broken ribs and a broken shoulder blade on the ninth stage of the 2011 Tour, he went on to finish eighth overall at the Vuelta a Espana.

    The team features 10 newcomers this year, including veterans Lars Bak, Greg Henderson and Gianni Meersman. The most exotic addition to the team is

  • Rabobank manager says high-ranking dopers should be banned longer

    Article published:
    February 02, 2012, 12:09 GMT
    Cycling News

    Length of ban should be based on world ranking points

    The bigger they are, the harder they fall. That's the wish of Rabobank manager Harold Knebel, who would like to see the length doping suspensions based upon rider points.

    Currently, most doping violations call for an automatic two-year suspension,with no relationship between the rider's stature or the nature of the violation. But Knebel said this should be changed, depending on the rider's rank.

    “I believe in stricter doping rules,” he told “Under the current system, the relationship between risk and return is beneficial to the abuser.  By doping, a rider can score points and thus earn an attractive contract. If someone has a lot of points, then (they should get) a higher penalty.”

    Under his suggestion, a team captain would be banned longer than a domestique. “Who gains the most, should also be punished the most.”