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First Edition Cycling News, Thursday, July 9, 2009

Date published:
July 09, 2009, 1:00 BST
  • Kelly launches Tour of Waterford

    Sean Kelly's daughter Stacey brightens a wet County Waterford day.
    Article published:
    July 08, 2009, 18:05 BST
    By:
    Daniel Simms

    County Waterford event contributing to a good cause

    You might ask: 'Why is Sean Kelly hanging out with someone dressed as a sunflower?'

    The answer: To launch the Sean Kelly Tour of Waterford.

    The Irish cycling stalwart recently launched the race bearing his name, to be held in County Waterford on August 30. The sunflower-clad young woman is his daughter Stacey, and with the Irish Cancer Society the nominated charity for this year's event, the yellow flower suit was donned to represent the cause. It also brought a little sunshine to what looked like a pretty gloomy day.

    For online entry and further information visit www.theseankellytour.com or www.anpost.ie/cycleseries

  • Crit racers to converge in Pennsylvania

    Mark Hekman
    Article published:
    July 08, 2009, 22:19 BST
    By:
    Daniel Simms

    USA CRITS series stops next at Ironhill Twilight Criterium

    Some of the best American men's and women's teams will take to the streets of West Chester, Pennsylvania, for the fifth Annual Iron Hill Twilight Criterium on Saturday, July 11. The race marks the second stop on the USA Crits National Series calendar.

    Last year's winner Mark Hekman (Team Mountain Khakis) will return to defend. Thus far, Hekman's season has been a good one, with top five finishes at Tulsa Tough and the Kelly Cup, as well as a second place finish at the Athens Twilight Criterium. The illusive win, however, has escaped the former bassonist thus far.

    "The Ironhill Twilight is a rising icon in American criterium racing with a great enthusiastic crowd that makes racing this event electric. I would like to be the first two-time winner," said Hekman. "The course is well suited to my strengths." So hungry he is for his first win in 2009, Hekman has opted to start off his honeymoon in West Chester.

    The 2007 and 2008 USA CRITS Series champions, Frank Travieso and Yosvany Falcon, both racing for Miami-based Champion Porsche presented by Racer's Edge, will also be in attendance. The The Cuban duo has had its own wins lately and will be ready against their former teammate Hekman. Travieso joked, "After the race he [Hekman] will be wishing he was still a bassonist."

    Olympic team member Bobby Lea racing for OUCH presented by Maxxis, Cheyne Hoag, Clay Murfet, and Shane Kline of Kelly Benefit Strategies are also racers to watch. The Colavita-Sutter Home presented by Cooking Light and the New Zealand National teams will also be fielding teams.

    The one-kilometer course usually produces tactical racing and in the past, the event has been won from solo breakaways and bunch sprints.

    Racing starts at 5:15 pm with the feature women's event at 6:45 pm and the men's race at 7:45 pm local time.

    The first race of the USA CRITS series was the Athens Twilight Criterium in Athens, Georgia on April 25. The next stop...

  • Armstrong and Cavendish confirmed for shortened Tour of Ireland

    Lance Armstrong (Astana)
    Article published:
    July 08, 2009, 23:30 BST
    By:
    Shane Stokes

    Economic climate forces reduction in stages

    Choosing to scale back on the length of the race in order to negotiate through what was described as a "tough economic climate," the organisers of the Tour of Ireland confirmed Wednesday that two big names from the Tour de France would be taking part in the Irish event this year.

    Seven-time Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong and six-time Tour stage winner Mark Cavendish will both line up for the 2.1-ranked event, backed by their Astana and Columbia-HTC teams. Earlier in his career Armstrong took part in the race's predecessor, the Nissan Classic, while Cavendish won the first three stages in the 2008 edition.

    That proved to be a very successful event for the Columbia team; Marco Pinotti triumphed overall, while Frantisek Rabon took the final stage in Cork. Only Russell Williams of the Pinarello Candi TV team prevented a clean sweep when he won stage four, then went on to finish second to Pinotti in the general classification.

    Event organiser Alan Rushton was upbeat about the race, notwithstanding the reduction in length from five to three days. "We have had great support from the event sponsors, teams and local authorities to keep the race on the road in what is a very tough economic climate," he said. "As a result our event is leaner and fitter and the race will show a large international television audience that Ireland has a great deal to offer visitors. We have over 550 kilometres of racing through spectacular countryside and victory will be a hard fought affair".

    This year's race will be backed by Fáilte Ireland, while An Post will also return as sponsor of the green jersey points competition. The An Post M. Donnelly Grant Thornton Sean Kelly team will also wear its logo in the race, and is likely to include multiple Irish champion David O'Loughlin.

    The Department of Transport is coming on board as a new sponsor, backing the "Smarter Travel" Best Young Rider Jersey for those under 25 years of age.

    ...
  • Wiggins in the shape of his life

    Bradley Wiggins (Garmin-Slipstream).
    Article published:
    July 08, 2009, 23:59 BST
    By:
    Richard Moore

    Brit thinks top 15 overall a possibility

    Thursday's sixth stage of the Tour de France takes the riders into Spain, with the start town of Gerona familiar to a large contingent of riders in the peloton. Lance Armstrong lived there towards the end of his seven-year winning run, and Garmin-Slipstream is based there, with most of the team's riders living there.

    They include Britain's Bradley Wiggins, who has set the bar high at this Tour. After placing third in Saturday's opening time trial he had hoped to take the yellow jersey after Tuesday's team time trial, but, reduced to five men after just 11 kilometres, with only four of them able to contribute, he and Garmin-Slipstream had to be content with second to Astana.

    The disappointment was still evident as Wiggins spoke after Wednesday's stage to Perpignan. "I feel alright, but it was a hard day yesterday," said Wiggins of the team time trial. Finishing just 18 seconds behind Astana was considered by many to be an outstanding performance, but Wiggins was having none of that. "We still lost," he said.

    "I didn't really think we'd win it," he continued, "but I was hoping for yellow. But they were better than us on the day. We couldn't have gone any faster."

    Wiggins would have taken yellow had he made the 27-man split that went clear in the crosswinds towards the end of Monday's stage, nicking 41 seconds. Wiggins, who sits in sixth place, at 38 seconds, said that Wednesday's fifth stage, with even stronger crosswinds, was predictably nervous, though there was to be no repeat of Monday's great escape.

    "Every day is bloody hard," he said. "Today we had to concentrate all day, and tomorrow will be the same. It was really nervous; there were a few moments when it did split, but there are so many different levels at this Tour: there are 100 blokes who are good and 100 blokes who are not so good, and it's all mixed up. As soon as there was any dangerous looking split it was so hard, because everyone's trying to be at...

  • Fortune favours the brave in Perpignan

    Thomas Voeckler celebrates after taking his first Tour stage.
    Article published:
    July 09, 2009, 4:05 BST
    By:
    Daniel Simms

    Reaction from stage five

    Thomas Voeckler (Bbox Bouygues Telecom) - first on stage, 138th overall @ 6:48

    This is undoubtedly the most beautiful victory of my career. I have waited a really long time [for it]. I never really believed in my chances today. Firstly, the lead was quite small, and even with a successful break it was clear to me that the two Française des Jeux riders would get me in the sprint.

    "Without those winds, we would have been caught and I probably wouldn't have won. Actually, I only believed in my chance when I was 300 metres from the finish." (radsport-activ.de)

    Carlos Sastre (Cervélo TestTeam) - 56th on stage, 29th overall @ 2:44

    "The fifth stage of this Tour was nervous from the beginning. It was open country, with narrow roads, crossing from left to right with a lot of crosswinds and headwinds. During the stage there were some splits.

    "Once again I felt very protected by my teammates and we didn't have any problems, always staying at the front and in good position. We've cleared another important day of this Tour and we're getting closer and closer to the Pyrenees."

    Brett Lancaster (Cervélo TestTeam) - 43rd on stage, 58th overall @ 3:28

    "From the start, with the quality of guys in the break, we knew it was going to be hard to pull them back. Thor is quite happy when he's been up there in the sprints. It was a bit of a mess of a sprint, but that break stayed away in the end."

    "We knew it was going to split right there at the lake where it was windy, so we did a good job keeping Carlos at the front. The team felt good today and took it easier after the team time trial. Carlos was real satisfied with how the team rode yesterday. Today we wanted to keep Carlos out of the wind."

    Mark Cavendish (Columbia-HTC) - third on stage, 60th overall @ 3:33

    "From the outset today, the race was very...

  • Rabobank promises to act swiftly in Vienna investigation

    Denis Menchov sits protected in the Rabobank train.
    Article published:
    July 09, 2009, 7:39 BST
    By:
    Hedwig Kröner

    Team confirms three riders testified

    After Team Rabobank announced last week that three riders of the squad, namely Denis Menchov, Joost Posthuma and Pieter Weening, had testified in the doping investigation surrounding blood bank Humanplasma in Vienna, Austria, Cyclingnews asked Rabobank press officer Luuc Eisenga exactly what the management knew about the case and its riders' involvement.

    "From what we know now, the involved riders haven't done anything that conflicts with our very strict zero tolerance policy," said Eisenga. "But if we had facts that contradicted the declarations the persons have made, we will act swiftly."

    Three current riders of the team have testified before the authorities last month, and three other former riders, Thomas Dekker, Michael Boogerd and Michael Rasmussen, have been sent invitations to do so.

    "We're in contact with the Austrian authorities," continued Eisenga. "From the first moment when they invited persons to be heard as witnesses, we announced our unconditional and complete cooperation."

    Although the Austrian investigation continues, the questioning of Rabobank riders appears to have finished. However, the Dutch team was under the scrutiny of the Austrian authorities examining the wrongdoings of the blood bank, despite the attentiveness of team management in relation to anti-doping in the last two years.

    "After the Rasmussen scandal in 2007, we did everything we could to create a completely doping-free environment," explained Eisenga. "We gave the riders the instruments to become better bike riders. We trained them, we coached them, and we watched them. It's extremely important that we do everything in our power to make sure that the riders compete in an ethical way.

    "We can only hope that with the biological passport and the huge quantity of tests, the cheaters are caught and that those who are tempted to cheat feel threatened enough not do it. But there will always be people that think they can...

  • Contador content ahead of Andorran adventure

    Alberto Contador smiles from the podium after his Astana team won the team time trial stage.
    Article published:
    July 09, 2009, 7:49 BST
    By:
    Daniel Simms

    Spanish star anticipates mountain showdown

    His lesson learnt from the events of stage three, Alberto Contador ensured he made the split at the front of peloton when it accelerated savagely during the windy journey from Le Cap d'Agde to Perpignan yesterday. His vigilance helps keep him high on the general classification, something that has the Spaniard anticipating the start of the Pyrenees.

    "The situation is very good. If they had said to me before the Tour started that I was going to come to Barcelona with the differences that are apparent in the overall, I wouldn't have believed it," Contador told reporters after stage five.

    And with all the talk surrounding his standing as Astana's number one for the overall classification, a Spanish sojourn could be the perfect tonic for Contador, who is a popular figure in his homeland.

    "I'll certainly enjoy going to Spain and meeting my fans. It's always agreeable to return to your country and to meet your relatives, because there will be many people coming to see me," he explained.

    Contador is hoping that today's stage is free of the manic activity that characterised stages three and five, where high tempos caused splits in the field that drained many of the riders. He's got one eye on the arrival of the Tour in the mountains - his type of terrain - and it couldn't come quickly enough for the slightly-built Spaniard.

    "Especially I hope that it [today's stage] goes calmly because on the following day we have the first stage in the mountains," he said. "The arrival to Barcelona, in spite of the kilometres in the city, does not worry me because it has very broad avenues.

    "I want to get there because the mountains are my territory; I'm feeling good but you always like to confirm that," he added.

    Of the much-publicised dynamics between him and Lance Armstrong, Contador believes that it resembles nothing of the infamous duel between Bernard Hinault and Greg LeMond in the 1986 Tour - it's quite the opposite, he...

  • Chavanel plays the waiting game

    Sylvain Chavanel (Quick Step)
    Article published:
    July 09, 2009, 9:19 BST
    By:
    Hedwig Kröner

    French rider bides his time in search of stage win

    Sylvain Chavanel, the second of Quick Step's two team leaders behind Tom Boonen, wants to repeat his 2008 Tour de France stage win this year. The Frenchman was ready to pull the bunch for his teammate's chances in a field sprint yesterday in Perpignan, but the stage eventually favoured the breakaway that carried countryman Thomas Voeckler to victory.

    An escape also seems to be Chavanel's goal, judging from what he told Cyclingnews at the start of the stage in Cap d'Agde. "The Pyrenees are not impossible to overcome, contrary to the Alps," he said. "It will be hard, but we've done worse.

    "I still want to win a stage, but I'm not going to tell you which one!" he added.

    Before entering the mountains, the peloton will head towards Barcelona on a stage that has a few bumps on its profile - especially in the last two kilometres.

    Chavanel has proven his proficiency in time trials on many occasions he was able to test his legs in the team time trial in Montpellier on Tuesday, despite having to watch out over his teammates.

    "I couldn't make the most out of my abilities in the team time trial, but that's only normal. It was all about the collective so there was no point in accelerating to make them blow up in the back. But my feelings are good, I am confident," he added.