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First Edition Cycling News, Thursday, January 26, 2012

Date published:
January 26, 2012, 0:00 GMT
  • Gallery: Final day of training for Garmin-Barracuda

    Fabian Wegmann
    Article published:
    January 25, 2012, 17:35 GMT
    Cycling News

    American team heads home after Spanish camp

    Garmin-Barracuda's ten day training camp came to an end on Wednesday with a short recovery ride and a 'media day'. The American team has based themselves in Calpe, on the coast of Spain, just down the road from Astana and GreenEdge - using the terrain to fine tune their sprints, time trialing and climbing talents.

    On the final day the team took to the roads for one final time but it was a short recovery ride after yesterday's six hour marathon through the Spanish hills.

    Having so many of the team present and in one location is a rare occurrence, so along with training rides the team go through valuable but unexciting meetings on topics such as insurance, sponsorship and even media training, which came in handy this afternoon with the team were opened up for interviews with the press.

  • New Rabobank deals for Gesink and Mollema

    Robert Gesink
    Article published:
    January 25, 2012, 19:36 GMT
    Cycling News

    Dutch duo signs contract extension until 2014

    UCI WorldTour team Rabobank announced that two of its riders, Robert Gesink and Bauke Mollema, have agreed to extend their contacts with the team until the end of 2014. The Dutch riders are considered to be key components in Rabobank's challenge for top honours at the world's most prestigious races over the next three seasons. The Dutch team is currently reaching the latter stages of its pre-season training camp in Mallorca.

    Geskink, 25, joined Rabobank in 2007 and finished sixth in the 2010 Tour de France. He will shortly be heading out to the Gulf to defend the Tour of Oman title that he won last year. After a highly promising start to 2011 the remainder of Gesink's season was disrupted. He lost crucial time following a crash in the Tour de France and then suffered a horrorible crash in training back in September, where he broke his femur. News of the extension to his contract proves Rabobank's faith in him and he was delighted by the news.

    "I am very happy that I will be staying longer with the team," he said. "The atmosphere is good. You notice here every day at the training camp in Mallorca. I feel I can really develop with this group of colleagues."

    Mollema, the 2011 Dutch Male Rider of the Year, is also 25 and signed professional forms with Rabobank a year after Gesink. He enjoyed something of a break-out year in 2011, with the main highlights being a top 10 finish at Paris-Nice and his standout performance in the Vuelta a Espana. After holding the red jersey he eventually missed out on a podium finish in the GC by finishing fourth, but he became the first Dutch rider in almost 20 years to win a...

  • Vanmarcke eager for second season with Garmin-Barracuda

    Sep Vanmarcke (Garmin-Cervelo) prior to the start of the race
    Article published:
    January 25, 2012, 22:50 GMT
    Daniel Benson

    Belgian aims for Spring Classics

    Sep Vanmarcke (Garmin-Barracuda) doesn't want to be labelled as the next Tom Boonen, or the next Philippe Gilbert. Instead the quietly spoken Belgian wants to make his own mark on the sport of cycling, and principally on the Spring Classics.

    In 2010, he broke through with a surprise second place in Gent-Wevelgem, beating Gilbert into third in the process. The ride brought him to the attention of the world's biggest teams, and the 23-year-old was in a position to pick his next team.

    Most Belgian riders would understandably side on one of the home grown teams, Quick Step or Lotto but Vanmarcke took a different path, signing for Garmin.

    "There were other interested parties," he told Cyclingnews.

    "I didn't have many contacts myself, so I talked to some managers and chose which one I wanted to work. Then we sat down with my agents and they asked me which team I wanted to go to because I was in position to choose. I said I wanted to go to Garmin and the team was really interested. And here I am."

    "I've always said that if I could have the chance and if I'm good enough, I wanted to go to an international team and I like the American teams. People ask me why, but it's just a feeling I have. It's professional here, it's probably the same in the Belgian teams, but it keeps the pressure off me if I'm here too. Belgium is crazy about cycling so maybe if I'd gone to Lotto or QuickStep they'd have kept asking me when I was going to be 'good'. Here they support me and they believe in me."

    Vanmarcke followed up his 2010 Gent-Wevelgem performance with a number of strong performances in 2011. At Topsport he was 'top dog' but his inexperience when compared to his Garmin teammates saw him going in early breaks and marking moves....

  • Video: Watch Garmin-Barracuda train for a team time trial

    David Millar (Garmin-Barracuda) will again be a major factor in the team's success
    Article published:
    January 26, 2012, 7:05 GMT
    Cycling News

    American team go full gas

    Garmin-Barracuda boasts some of the strongest time trialists in the world but when it comes to team time trials they spend more time than most working on becoming a cohesive and effective unit. They put those qualities to good effect in last year’s Tour de France, wining the team time trial and they’ll be looking to repeat that success on the road in 2012.

    On the final day of their team camp in Calpe, Spain, the team split into several groups and covered a 15km loop twice. At times covering the route at 70kph, the likes of David Millar, Christian Vande Velde and Peter Stetina, all of whom will be racing the Tour of Qatar, showed why the team will be a force in the TTT this year.

  • Wellens' house searched in doping investigation

    Former world champion Bart Wellens (Telenet - Fidea) takes his first major victory of the season.
    Article published:
    January 26, 2012, 7:42 GMT
    Cycling News

    Belgian 'cross rider under suspicion of doping

    Belgian police searched the house of cyclo-cross rider Bart Wellens on Wednesday, as part of a doping investigation. The investigation centers on Luc Van den Broeck, who produces the dietary supplement CONCAP, and the houses of two other riders, including Wellens' brother Geert.

    Wellens recently missed the Belgian national championships when he was hospitalized with heart and kidney problems. He, his wife and his doctor denied that doping was involved.

    That was not the beginning of the suspicions, though. Police first received information that he may have doped after his “miraculous victory”  in Essen on December 17, according to Het Nieuwsblad.

    Van den Broeck is the key figure in the investigation. On January 13, the investigation was ordered, with the prosecutor yesterday confirming that to the Belgian newspaper. “Is he really a supplier of doping products? And who are his customers? That is what we are looking into,” said Inge Delissen of the Belgian court in Turnhout. “In other words, did Van den Broeck supply Bar Wellens or not? At present that is not certain.”

    The police on Wednesday searched the houses of Van den Broeck, Bart Wellens, his brother Geert, and Kevin Cant (Belgian 'cross champion for elite without contract), as well as the CONCAP headquarters.

    Five detectives searched Wellens' house for nearly two hours, and took a computer with them when they left.

    In addition, Wellens's medical records from the hospital were taken into custody for further investigation.

    “Everything needs to be checked,” Delissen said. “We want to know if something is wrong.”

    Delissen emphasized that no conclusion had yet been drawn. “The...

  • Guldhammer finds a home at Christina Watches

    Rasmus Guldhammer catches up with some mates at the sign-on
    Article published:
    January 26, 2012, 12:33 GMT
    Peter Hymas

    Dane hopes to contribute to squad's 2013 Pro Conti ambitions

    Rasmus Guldhammer is making his debut for Christina Watches-Onfone at South America's biggest race, the Tour de San Luis, also the first time the 22-year-old Dane has raced on the continent. While the talented rider has the pedigree to excel on the climbs he would face on Wednesday's third stage, Guldhammer told Cyclingnews before the start what his role would be in Argentina.

    "Today it's all about helping Stefan Schumacher, Michael Rasmussen and Frederik Wilmann to get a result on the climbs," Guldhammer told Cyclingnews, also mentioning that he'd been a bit under the weather thus far at the race. "It's also early in the season so my goals are later on. I'm here for helping and getting some race kilometres in the legs so it's good for me, but it's also nice to help the other guys on the team."

    About four-and-a-half hours later Schumacher indeed notched a good result, finishing fourth on the day and moving into third on general classification, 19 seconds down on Alberto Contador.

    While results such as victory at the 2009 U23 Liege-Bastogne-Liege helped propel Guldhammer into a ProTour contract at 20 years old with HTC-Columbia, the Dane faltered in his one year at that level and rode for the Continental Team Concordia Forsikring - Himmerland squad in 2011.

    2012 sees Guldhammer on another Continental squad, the Danish Christina Watches-Onfone, but the decision was a good one for his ambitions and that of the team.

    "I've been speaking with Michael [Rasmussen] for four years now, plus for the past 12 years I've been vacationing in the Seychelles and I've been training with him a couple of...

  • Hushovd looks to Hincapie for help in Paris-Roubaix

    Thor Hushovd (Garmin-Cervelo) is all smiles on the podium
    Article published:
    January 26, 2012, 13:28 GMT
    Cycling News

    American to be road captain for BMC whilst Hushovd goes for the win

    Thor Hushovd is looking to climb back on the podium at Paris-Roubaix, specifically on to the top step. The Norwegian is counting on veteran BMC teammate George Hincapie to help him win the "Hell of the North”.

    Hushovd won the Under-23 version of the race in 1998, and finished third in 2009 and second in 2010. He was only eighth last year.

    He expects Hincapie to be at his side in the race, helping him to win it. “He's going to be very important,” Hushovd told  The American has long aimed for the top of the race himself, finishing second in 2005.

    Hincapie “is a rider who likes to pick up some extra motivation when he help a strong leader,” said Hushovd's personal trainer, Atle Kvålsvoll. “He showed that at Lance Armstrong's side, and he has done a good job for Cadel Evans. I think he would be happy to help Hushovd in Roubaix.

    “He knows this race inside and out. He knows the game, makes the right choices along the way and is always where he should sit in the main field. Besides, Hincapie enjoys great respect, which makes it difficult to push away a rider. In Paris-Roubaix, it is he who controls the team on the road,  while Thor can use his energy in the crucial places."

  • Video: Leipheimer discusses Tour de San Luis ambitions

    Levi Leipheimer (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) after a strong showing against Contador
    Article published:
    January 26, 2012, 14:58 GMT
    Peter Hymas

    Names Contador and Nibali as biggest GC rivals

    Omega Pharma-Quick Step started the Tour de San Luis firing on all cylinders, with Italy's Francesco Chicchi winning the first two stages and earning the leader's jersey at the biggest race in South America. On Wednesday's third stage it was Levi Leipheimer's turn to shine as he was the only rider to answer Alberto Contador's decisive attack near the summit of the Mirador del Potrero mountain finish.

    Leipheimer finished in the same time as stage winner Contador and enters Thursday's 19.5km time trial just four seconds down on the Spaniard.

    Cyclingnews spoke to Leipheimer prior to the start of stage 2 in Fraga where he discussed the team's opening day stage win, the apocalyptic conditions, who he sees as his main rivals for overall victory, and the decision to begin his season in Argentina in his first outing for Omega Pharma-Quick Step.