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First Edition Cycling News, Thursday, June 24, 2010

Date published:
June 24, 2010, 1:00 BST
  • Bettini vows to follow in Ballerini's tracks

    Paolo Bettini
    Article published:
    June 23, 2010, 12:56 BST
    Cycling News

    Former world champion presented as new Italian manager

    Paolo Bettini has been officially presented as manager of the Italian national team at a press conference in Rome.

    Bettini sounded what he hopes to be the keynote of his tenure, namely continuity with the late Franco Ballerini’s hugely successful spell as commissario tecnico. The influentual position had remained vacant since Ballerini’s death in a rallying accident in early February.

     “I want to follow in Franco’s footsteps”, said an emotional Bettini. “I know the peloton very well because I have only recently retired, and I know that I will have to count very much on the same riders who, along with Ballerini, helped me to win”.

    Bettini, a close personal friend of Ballerini, won two rainbow jerseys and an Olympic gold medal under the management of his fellow Tuscan, and is aware of the weight of his legacy. “I was a great athlete, but I don’t know if I will succeed in being a great manager. Certainly I will give everything to achieve great results,” he said.

    The double world champion has signed an initial one-year contract with the Italian Federation, with an agreement to continue in the role until the 2012 London Olympics, depending on results.

    His first test will come at the World Championships in early October, and one former occupant of the legendary hot seat of Italian cycling is convinced of Bettini’s credentials. Alfredo Martini, brought six rainbow jerseys south of the Alps during his reign as manager, and he offered this rather poetic appraisal of the new man in command.

    “He is a man who comes from the sea, and has gone from being a sailor to an admiral. Bettini will be a great admiral, everybody wants him and he is lacking nothing. The only thing he is missing is Bettini the rider, that Franco Ballerini had.”




  • Martin and Rogers lead HTC-Columbia for Tour de France

    Tony Martin (HTC-Columbia) powered into the race lead.
    Article published:
    June 23, 2010, 16:08 BST
    Cycling News

    Cavendish selected as team's sprinter; Griepel left off roster

    Team HTC-Columbia is heading into the 2010 Tour de France with its eyes on the green jersey and the general classification. It has selected its nine-rider team with both goals in mind: Mark Cavendish, Bernhard Eisel, Bert Grabsch, Adam Hansen, Tony Martin, Maxime Monfort, Mark Renshaw, Michael Rogers and Kanstantsin Sivtsov.

    "Selecting the team was very hard for us again this year," said Team Manager Rolf Aldag. "It was hard enough selecting a long list of 15, but to bring it down to only nine riders involved some very difficult decisions. In the end, we have to leave at home several riders who also deserve a chance to ride the Tour.

    "Our decisions were based on two goals," he said. "First, we wanted a strong team to support Mark Cavendish and winning the Green jersey. To win, we need to concentrate all points with one sprinter. As a result, we have not included André Greipel in the roster. Mark won six stages of the Tour de France last year and we have faith that he will be highly successful in the 2010 Tour.

    "Renshaw, Eisel, Grabsch and Hansen will be the main support for the sprint stages with, of course, the other riders also playing a part in the lead out train as well.

    "Second, we wanted to field a team who can focus on the overall. Rogers has had the best season of his career to date and is very focused on contending in the general classification. Tony Martin comes off a very successful Tour de Suisse where he held the yellow jersey for the first part of the race and won the closing time trial.

    "They will be supported by Maxime Monfort, who showed excellent form at Tour de Suisse, Adam Hansen, who won the Ster Elektro stage race last weekend and Kanstantsin Sivtsov who is a tireless worker on both flat and mountainous terrain."

    "We are going into the race focused on our combined strength as a team and will exploit every chance for success - stage wins, jerseys and outstanding performances," said...

  • Boonen to lead Quick Step in Tour de France

    Tom Boonen (Quick Step).
    Article published:
    June 23, 2010, 16:31 BST
    Cycling News

    Four riders making their debut in the race

    Tom Boonen will lead Team Quick Step in the Tour de France this year, the team announced Wednesday afternoon – assuming his troubled left knee holds up on Sunday's Belgian national championship road race.

    Boonen, 29, has won six stages In the Tour and won the green jersey in 2007. However, he has said that he may be forced to skip the Tour this year due to problems with his knee. He suffered the injury in a crash in the Tour of California in May, and aggravated it in another crash at the Tour de Suisse.

    Four riders will be making their Tour debut: Kevin Seeldrayers, who won the white jersey as best young rider at the 2009 Giro d'Italia; Dries Devenyns, Kevin De Weert, and Maarten Wynants. They will be joined by Jurgen Van de Walle, Carlos Barredo, Sylvain Chavanel, who has recovered from a fractured skull suffered at Liege-Bastogne-Liege, and Jerome Pineau, who won a stage at this year's Giro d'Italia.

    The teams two reserve riders are Kevin Hulsmans and Wouter Weylandt, who also won a stage at the Giro.

    Quick Step for the Tour de France: Carlos Barredo, Tom Boonen, Sylvain Chavanel, Dries Devenyns, Kevin De Weert, Jerome Pineau, Kevin Seeldrayers, Jurgen Van de Walle, and Maarten Wynants.

  • Nuyens knows value of national jersey

    Nick Nuyens (Rabobank)
    Article published:
    June 24, 2010, 2:07 BST
    Cycling News

    Rabobank rider aiming for a title this weekend

    Nick Nuyens has stated that he wants to put a disappointing spring Classics campaign behind him and try for a jersey at this weekend's Belgian national championships in Leuven.

    "I have suffered much during the spring; it was difficult for me physically and mentally. The criticism of me hit me, but I will not shoot back. I'm not vindictive, but if I win, it will be enjoyed," Nuyens told Belgian sports daily Sporza.

    Nuyens has suffered setbacks through injury over the past few seasons when many considered his career to be taking off after a move from Cofidis to Rabobank. The former Quick-Step rider was again besieged by injury and illness this Spring however, hardly competing and only taking a 26th place in Amstel Gold Race, but says he's hopeful of shaking this off to ride well in the national championships.

    The Rabobank rider lived in Leuven for four years and is anticipating a return to competition there. "The Belgian championships are special anyway and for me it is a little more special - I lived in Leuven for four years and I know every road. It's fun to return there and certainly for the Belgian championships," he said.

    As for the value of the Belgian national champion's jersey, which has been seen on the likes of Tom Boonen and Stijn Devolder in recent years, Nuyens is unequivocal: "The national flag is beautiful and has earned great respect," he stated.

    There are quality riders also vying for the black, red and yellow jersey, however. "The name that immediately springs to mind is [Greg] Van Avermaet," said Nuyens. "Devolder is caught in a rut even though he says he isn't and Gilbert and Boonen are always good," he added.

  • Ballan looks to build form at national championships

    Alessandro Ballan (BMC Racing Team)
    Article published:
    June 24, 2010, 4:06 BST
    Cycling News

    Former World Champion assesses technical course

    Alessandro Ballan (BMC Racing Team) has confirmed that he will ride the Italian national championships this weekend. Speaking to La Gazzetta dello Sport, the former rainbow jersey wearer said that although the course at Conegliano was as difficult as a World Championship, he needed more racing kilometres in his legs ahead of the Tour de France.

    “I didn’t want to ride it," Ballan said. "I thought that a spell of training at altitude would have been more useful as preparation for the Tour, but I also need to find my rhythm.”

    As well as the 15 percent climb of the Ca’ del Poggio, Ballan noted a less obvious difficulty in Saturday’s course, namely a tricky, technical descent, that he says will leave no opportunity “to breathe or to recuperate”.

    Another obstacle facing Ballan is his relative lack of teammates. With just Mauro Santambrogio to aid him, he will be outnumbered by the larger rosters of Liquigas and Lampre in particular, but he was quick to downplay the apparent disadvantage. “For Liquigas, [the leaders are] Basso and Nibali, and for Lampre, Cunego, Gavazzi and Pietropolli. I will race and mark them.”

    Ballan will be hoping that this race and the upcoming Tour de France can kick start his truncated season. His classics campaign was cut short when BMC withdrew him from racing due to concerns raised in the Mantova doping investigation, which largely concerned Ballan’s former Lampre-Farnese Vini team. He returned to racing at the GP Kanton Aargau-Gippingen in June, and followed that up with a ride in the Tour de Suisse.

    Although short on preparation, his aspirations of taking his national title are apparent, saying: “I didn’t see myself winning the rainbow jersey [in 2008], but I held it for a year”.

    Although never a national champion at any level, Ballan also revealed that he has in fact worn the tricolour jersey before,...

  • Wrolich blames internal politics for lack of Tour place

    Peter Wrolich traveled for 16 hours by train to make it in time to the start of the Amstel Gold Race
    Article published:
    June 24, 2010, 9:02 BST
    Cycling News

    Milram Austrian said he did not expect to ride in France

    Peter Wrolich has blamed “internal politics” for the fact that he was not named on Team Milram's Tour de France squad. However, the Austrian said that he had not anticipated riding the race and was not particularly disappointed.

    “I have expected that for a long time, so it isn't a big surprise,” he told the Austrian website “I am totally satisfied with the situation and will now ride the Österreich Rundfahrt.”

    As to why he was not named, Wrolich explained, “Not only do athletic grounds play a role, but also internal politics. Apparently it doesn't please certain people that I ride for Milram.”

    He did not name names, but noted that he has a good relationship with team manager Gerry van Gerwen. “He is a good manager, who knows how to lead a team.”

    Wrolich described his relationship with Sport Director Ralf Grabsch as “correct”.

    Grabsch denied Wrolich's claims, saying “it was definitely for sporting reasons.” He said that the Austrian had an excellent early part of the season, but that in the recent Tour de Suisse, “I had expected more. Plus he now has health problems.”

    Looking to the Tour, Wrolich said the team's biggest problem would be “the support for (sprinter) Gerald Ciolek. It was that way last year, too.” He looks to his fellow Austrian Thomas Rohregger to do well in his first Tour de France. “It is known that he does well in the high mountains, so I figure he will ride a very strong Tour.”

    Wrolich's contract with the German ProTour team ends this year, as does the team's contract with its name sponsor. As for his future, the 36-year-old said, “There are discussions in various directions, more exactly, there are three possibilities. One of them is the continuation of my career.” He expects that “at the latest the...

  • Demol explains Steegmans' Tour non-selection

    Gert Steegmans (RadioShack)
    Article published:
    June 24, 2010, 9:14 BST
    Cycling News

    RadioShack needed "servants" for Armstrong

    Team RadioShack directeur sportif Dirk Demol has explained the reason behind sprinter Gert Steegmans' non-selection for this year's Tour de France.

    "We chose pure slaves," Demol told Het Belang van Limburg, speaking about the likes of Chris Horner, Andreas Klöden and Levi Leipheimer. This trio will join Armstrong, plus Janez Brajkovic, Sergio Paulinho, Yaroslav Popovych, Gregory Rast and Dmitriy Muravyev to form a powerful Tour squad for the American team.

    That powerful outfit doesn't include Steegmans, who won a Tour stage in Gent in 2007. Demol was remaining philosophical, however. "You have to be realistic. We could not expect Gert to ride in full service of Armstrong. That would be against his nature. I cannot [allow that] - Gert deserves better," he said.

    Admittedly the former Quick Step and Katusha rider hasn't enjoyed a stellar season to date, with limited time in competition and few notable results on his palmares thanks to a combination of injury and subsequent lack of form. The team has foregone a sprinter in its lineup and instead placed all eggs in one basket - Armstrong.

    And whilst the burly Belgian would bring cobbled experience to the squad to aid Armstrong in the Tour's third stage which takes riders over several sections of pavé, Demol said that there was ample cover for this within the chosen nine.

    "Gert was the ideal rider to pilot Lance over the cobblestones, but Popovych has the same capabilities, and it's nice that Rast and Muravyev know their way around the cobblestones," said Demol.

    Demol also explained that the team's snub from Vuelta a España organisers meant Janez Brajkovic was rushed into the Tour de France squad. Had RadioShack been invited, Demol says he's sure Steegmans could have been riding either the Tour or the Vuelta. It appears as though he'll be at neither event, however.

    "We weren't invited to the Vuelta, [where] we had Brajkovic to play as...

  • No additional tests by AFLD at Tour

    WADA president John Fahey gives an address at a symposium in Lausanne, Switzerland.
    Article published:
    June 24, 2010, 10:36 BST
    Hedwig Kröner

    WADA rejects French agency's request but welcomes collaboration

    The French Anti-Doping Agency (AFLD) will not be allowed to perform additional anti-doping tests at the Tour de France as it had requested several weeks ago. On Wednesday, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) published a resolution deciding on the framework of doping controls at the French Grand Tour that starts in Rotterdam next week.

    According to the resolution, the International Cycling Union (UCI) will be in sole charge of the anti-doping tests performed at the event. However, both WADA and the AFLD will play active roles in the process, as WADA will send independent observers to France to inspect UCI testing, and the AFLD may make suggestions for targeted testing to the UCI, with WADA being informed of the process.

    This decision was taken on the basis that the AFLD claims to be in the possession of "confidential information from police and customs", which would justify targeted tests. WADA was reluctant to let the AFLD carry out these tests itself, mainly because of legal issues: France's anti-doping code does not recognize the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) as the final instance of legal appeal.

    The resolution seems to be a good compromise, as it takes into account all parties concerned in the conflict that has seen the UCI and AFLD at loggerheads since their collaboration at the 2009 Tour. The presidents of both institutions, Pat McQuaid and Pierre Bordry, were engaged in reciprocal criticism and a mediatic war of words until very recently. By means of this resolution, WADA has finally settled a deal that could prove to be very effective in the fight against doping. In theory, both institutions and WADA itself will act together and share information in order to ensure independent supervision of the tests performed.