A close-up look at the Australian's purpose-built ride
Australian's 2015 Tinkoff-Saxo team bike
Winner of the 2015 Tour Down Under
New and old kicks and lids seen at WorldTour race
Dutch team to run carbon-neutral
The Skil-Shimano team presented its expanded roster to the world at a ceremony in Rotterdam last weekend. In the city where the Tour de France will have its Grand Depart, the team also previewed the route of the first stage in hopes that it will be invited to the race again this year.
The team has added firepower in the form of six new riders: Belgian Dominique Cornu, Dutchmen Job Vissers and Robin Chaigneau, Frenchmen Alexandre Geniez and Yann Huguet, and Norwegian Frederik Wilmann.
"The team and the organisation have been strengthened in terms of both quantity and quality, while the core of the team has been retained. We have a good set of riders for 2010, which the staff have every confidence in," said team boss Iwan Spekenbrink.
Skil-Shimano again have three Chinese riders in the team in 2010. Their development is something the team works on intensively within regular operations. "The young Chinese riders have come on great strides in all areas over the past two years," said Spekenbrink. "We expect them to be ready to take part in more international races this season."
Skil-Shimano team policy in 2010 will be expanded, based on the same six key values as last year: international focus (pan-European orientation with links to China and Japan), team spirit, investments in rider and staff development, ethics (practising sport in accordance with the strictest ethical guidelines), innovation and responsible stewardship of the environment.
The team retained its focus on ethics, innovation, team spirit, development of riders within an international focus, and added a new emphasis on environmental stewardship. The team fleet said it would run completely CO2-neutral in 2010.
The team has also taken on the role of ambassador of 'Trees for Travel', a foundation that invests in people that plant forests and use sustainable energy in developing countries, thus creating the right conditions for the local population to build a...
Brothers in arms, but professional rivals on different Spanish ProTour teams
For the first time the Gutiérrez Palacios brothers are racing together under the South Australian sun at the Santos Tour Down Under. While Caisse d’Épargne's José Iván is no stranger to the headlines after 11 seasons as a professional, David is a newcomer with Footon-Servetto at the age of 22.
"I’ve always looked after him, so it’s very nice to be with him in the bunch now although we are in different teams," said 31-year-old Iván. "I worked for David to join me at Caisse d’Épargne after he became the amateur Spanish champion in 2008, but team manager Eusebio Unzue told me it wasn’t possible."
Asked his opinion of the younger Gutiérrez in Hahndorf on Wednesday, Unzue told Cyclingnews: "David wasn’t strong enough yet, but we keep an eye on him and we’ll see how he improves in the pro ranks."
"In Spain, it has become extremely difficult for a youngster to turn professional due to the lack of teams and sponsors," Iván said. In fact, besides the purely Basque team Euskaltel, French bank Caisse d’Épargne and Swiss orthopaedic firm Footon are the only sponsors of Spanish ProTour teams.
Meanwhile, Spain's other high profile riders are also financed by foreign backers: The Kazakh government (Alberto Contador at Astana), a Canadian bike manufacturer (Carlos Sastre at Cervélo) and a Dutch bank (Oscar Freire at Rabobank); an indication of the economic impact different doping affairs have had on Spanish cycling.
Despite the challenges that face up-and-coming Spanish cyclists, David Gutiérrez has benefited from the support of his native Cantabria region, joining Mauro Gianetti’s outfit on the recommendation of directeur sportif Matxin Rodriguez. "He can help me develop well as a neo-pro," David said.
"David isn’t exactly a rider like me," Iván added. "The physiological data...
Saxo Bank team owner believes American will struggle in mountains against Schlecks and Contador
Bjarne Riis does not believe that Lance Armstrong can win the Tour de France again. He praised the seven-time Tour winner for his comeback, but said he doubted the American would even make it to the podium this year.
“I am deeply impressed by what he delivered last year. It was beautiful and deserves great respect,” Riis said in an interview on the Danish website sporten.dk. The 2009 Tour de France route “was perfectly suited for him,” added Riis, however, he expects Armstrong to struggle on this year's course.
“There are many more hills this year, the route is harder, and it will give Lance major problems. He must pull himself together to make the top-five,” according to Riis, who won the Tour in 1996.
“I think he can do well, but it will be difficult for him to get on the podium. So he must really do much better, and I do not think he can. He is getting older.”
Riis's picks to win are, naturally, his own Saxo Bank riders Andy and Fränk Schleck, and defending champion Alberto Contador of Astana.
“When Fränk, Andy and Contador are going up the biggest climbs, Lance can't stay with them. In 2009, when Fränk won his stage, it was clear that Lance couldn't go with them,” Riis said. “He did well on Mont Ventoux, but that's only one mountain. This year the route suits us much better.”
Riis is also looking forward to a battle between Contador and Armstrong, with perhaps Team Sky's Bradley Wiggins thrown into the mix. He is hopeful that if those three concentrate on one another, the Schlecks could quietly go about their own business and take the win. “We can profit from that and ride our own race. It is wildly interesting.”
Official route to be unveiled on Wednesday evening
The route of the 2010 Ronde van Vlaanderen will be officially unveiled on Wednesday night, with race organisers expected to re-shuffle the cobbled climbs in the finale of the race.
According to a report in the Flemish Het Nieuwsblad newspaper, the Molenberg climb will move from being the first climb of the race to 14th place this year, replacing the Eikenmolen as the climb prior to the often decisive Kapelmuur and the Bosberg climbs.
Local mayor Marc De Braekeleer has already confirmed to Belgian radio station Radio MIG that the Eikenmolen will be replaced.
Once again, the race is expected to start in Bruges and finish in Meerbeke, in the municipality of Ninove. However, Nieuwsblad suggests that the new race route may also include a section of the Belgian coast. The Flemish semi-Classic Gent-Wevelgem traditionally visits the same section of the country's west coast, where crosswinds could spark echelons and create another challenge for the Ronde peloton.
The popular Ronde van Vlaanderen sportive ride held the day before the men’s and women’s professional races are expected to follow the new route.
Nieuwsblad explains that the changes have been made because of the approach to Molenberg. The riders face a 90-degree turn at the foot of the climb which in the past has caused crashes and delays. In the new route, the cobbled Molenberg could be an early launch pad for a decisive attack before the Muur-Kapelmuur.
However, the new finale will not please everybody. Quick Step’s Stijn Devolder used the asphalted Eikenmolen to launch an attack before time trialling to the finish and victory in both the 2008 and 2009 editions of the event. He will have come up with a new strategy if he wants to become the first rider since Italy's Fiorenzo Magni to secure a hat-trick of victories in the Flemish Classic. Magni secured successive wins in 1949, 1950 and 1951.
Media invited to stay with riders during altitude training
The Liquigas has confirmed it will invite journalists to be present at all its training camps during the 2010 season as a way of showing they have nothing to hide and that their riders do not work with external doctors and coaches.
The Italian team has planned several training camps at altitude at Monte Teide in Tenerife and at San Pellegrino in the Italian Dolomites. Five places will be available to the media at the first camp at Monte Teide between February 5-19 and others will be available at later camps as riders prepare for the classics and the Giro d’Italia and Tour de France.
"We want to show everybody how we work at Liquigas-Doimo and get rid of any doubts about our openness and about us not being clean," team manager Roberto Amadio said in a statement issued by the Italian team on Wednesday.
"In the last few years, someone had fun throwing mud at our results, linking our riders with some strange people. That's why during our first get together at the Passo San Pellegrino we invited the media to be present at our training camps: we've nothing to hide and we'll be happy to prove it."
"We think it's an important contribution to helping our sport regain credibility. We've always worked in this direction. We believe the strict discipline we've adopted about our riders not working with external coaches is an important move and not just talk."
Last year, Italian anti-doping campaigner Ivano Fanini alleged in an interview with the La Repubblica newspaper that Liquigas riders Franco Pellizotti and Vincenzo Nibali were seen training with Dr. Ferrari at altitude near St Moritz. Both riders and the Liquigas team vehemently denied the allegations and the riders began legal action against Fanini.
Dane signs on for another three years
Team Saxo Bank extended its contract with climber Chris Anker Sørensen, adding on another three years to the 25-year-old's agreement. Winner of a stage of the Dauphiné Libéré and the Österreich-Rundfahrt in 2008, the Dane has been with the team since he turned professional in 2007.
After serving team leaders Frank and Andy Schleck, Sørensen is ready for a position as leader in his own right at the Giro d'Italia, according to team owner Bjarne Riis.
“Chris has an obvious potential which he repeatedly has been demonstrating at top level throughout the season. He has been through a really exciting development this last year and extending his contract with another three years was natural to me. In May, the time is ripe for him to even have a chance of running his own chance as a leader of the Team Saxo Bank line-up for the Giro d'Italia,“ said Riis.
“I am extremely pleased to extend my contract so I can stay with the Team for another three years. The amazing team spirit and the way Bjarne and the rest of the team thinks ahead and innovatively with an eye for the best equipment and training methods is beneficial to my future development and I know that I can continue that development at Team Saxo Bank.
"I will, to some degree, continue to fill out the role as a helper for the Schlecks but I am also grateful to Bjarne for letting me take on the role as a captain in the Giro d'Italia," Sørensen said. "As a Dane, I am, of course, proud to continue at a major Danish team."
Rocky 2009 season was a learning experience
Despite having won the last four grand tours he's entered - a Giro, a Vuelta, and two Tours de France - and his universal acclaim as the best stage racer in cycling, Alberto Contador isn't ready to call himself the patron of the peloton. Tellingly, however, he isn't willing to bestow that title on anyone else, either.
"There are many riders in the peloton who have to be respected," Contador said at the Astana training camp in Calpe, Spain, last week. He admitted, though, that his palmarès place him in a different light. "I realize that with my victories and UCI ranking and everything that I'm a point of reference in cycling for many people."
While some athletes search for such points of reference - a rival to target or against whom to measure themselves - Contador says he prefers not to focus on specific riders.
"It's always difficult to win," he said. "It doesn't matter who's in any given race. I'm not making any changes to my training. Yes, you need to look for places where you can improve. Little things, fine-tuning. But why change what's working?"
As expected, Contador says he's ready to put the difficulties of last year behind him - his inner-team battles with Lance Armstrong and the public squabbles between Armstrong, Johan Bruyneel, and him - but not without ignoring the lessons the season offered.
"Each year you get more experience," he explained. "But the last year was probably equal to two or three normal years, in terms of learning. It helps me."
Uniform updates separate teams and opinion
A new season means new jerseys in the peloton, with most major professional teams and even the organisers of the Vuelta a España redesigning their jerseys for 2010. Some of them have been well received while others have been the source of major debate.
The Vuelta unveiled the new leader’s jersey on Tuesday in Madrid. The race leader’s jersey has been a gold hue since the mid-1990s, but for 2010 the organisers have changed the colour scheme to red and asked fashion designer Custo Dalmau to create a special design for what will be the 75th anniversary of the race.
Dalmau came up with a bright red jersey decorated with black cheetah skin sections. “This animal and cyclists have things in common: speed, their position in the race and both are born to go fast,” he said on Tuesday.
Vuelta race director Javier Guillen said he’s happy that the jersey breaks with traditional race leaders jerseys, that he feels are rooted in the past.
Teams turn out tweaks for 2010
Team jersey designs are verified by the International Cycling Union (UCI) to ensure that liveries aren't too similar and can be easily recognized by officials.
The creation of several new teams has introduced some brand new colours into the bunch. Lance Armstrong’s RadioShack team has a red and grey scheme, Team Sky has gone for a simple but very effective black look, while Hincapie Sportswear has designed a red and black jersey for BMC.
Lance Armstrong manages to pull off the RadioShack look, but it has drawn comparisons with the Castorama kit from the 1980s, which was similar to the uniform worn by employees of the French DIY store chain.
Team Sky’s racing kit is made by Adidas, who has returned to cycling after they abandoned the sport in the wake of the T-Mobile doping scandals. Ironically, the design reminds many people of the magenta and white T-Mobile kit....