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First Edition Cycling News, Thursday, March 15, 2012

Date published:
March 15, 2012, 0:00 GMT
  • San Dimas Stage Race gets underway Friday

    The women head out for the 60-minute crit today.
    Article published:
    March 14, 2012, 21:26 GMT
    Cycling News

    New champions guaranteed for California race

    The San Dimas Stage Race will kick off its 13th year on Friday, and while last year's elite winners Ben Day and Amber Neben will not be on the start line, both fields are packed full of talent, guaranteed to provide intense competition.

    The race begins with the Glendora Mountain time trial, where the 890 riders over 10 fields will test themselves on the 3.8 mile uphill charge. The race continues Saturday with the Bonelli Park Road Race and its tricky, undulating approach to the finish line, and concludes Sunday with the downtown San Dimas criterium.

    For the first time, portions of the race will be available for viewing via live streaming video for portions of all three stages.

    The elite women's event has attracted many of the top riders in North America: Olympic champion Kristin Armstrong and her Exergy-Twenty12 team will try to duplicate their success shown in the Merced Classic earlier this month, but will face strong competition from Specialized-lululemon's Clara Hughes and Ina Teutenberg.

    The elite men's champion for the previous three years, Ben Day, has moved onto the Pro Continental UnitedHealthcare team, but the 2012 runner-up, Matt Cooke (Exergy), will be back, as will 2006 winner Heath Blackgrove (Elbowz Racing).

  • US teams hit hard by Amgen Tour of California exclusion

    Riders speed past the American flag.
    Article published:
    March 14, 2012, 23:27 GMT
    Laura Weislo

    Big US races make or break Continental teams

    The Amgen Tour of California has, in its seven year history, become one of the most important races for the North American teams, and sponsors expect to see their logos on the California roads each May. However, when a team fails to be invited, it can mean lost prestige, lost sponsors and in a worst case scenario, the end of the team entirely.

    Race organiser AEG's Michael Roth explained that just as each year the race has to leave out qualified host cities, every year the tough decisions regarding the teams leaves out capable teams.

    "There are very few teams which have been in the race every year," Roth said. "Our goal is to make half of the field WorldTour teams, and after that the criteria becomes which teams will be the most competitive."

    Even the composition of the WorldTour teams is different this year, with Saxo Bank disappearing and AG2R-La Mondiale stepping in. The team of world champion Mark Cavendish, Team Sky, won't be appearing, but GreenEdge will.

    "In addition to assembling a competitive field, we have to consider our international television audience, and look at which teams resonate with the viewers," Roth said. "We think AG2R will be very competitive, and also will have a positive impact on our European television market."

    While few teams have competed in the Amgen Tour of California for each of the past six years, the only Continental team to have taken part in each edition has been the Jelly Belly squad.

    Team manager Danny Van Haute was disappointed his team was not invited back for a seventh year, and noted the race's additional importance as preparation for the US Pro national championships. "The Amgen Tour of California [is] one of the most important and respected races in the world. The team has always appreciated the opportunity to compete against the...

  • Bronchitis forces Chavanel out of Milan-San Remo

    Sylvain Chavanel (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) is using the race as Paris-Nice training
    Article published:
    March 15, 2012, 9:47 GMT
    Cycling News

    Trentin to replace Frenchman for Omega Pharma-Quick Step

    Sylvain Chavanel has had to withdraw from Milan-San Remo, as he is still suffering from the bronchitis which handicapped him in Paris-Nice.  His place on the Omega Pharma-Quick Step squad will be taken by Italian rider Matteo Trentin.

    "This morning (Thursday) I set off on my bike for the long workout for San Remo," Chavanel said on the team's website. "After a few hours of working out, though, I started coughing and having the same respiratory problems I was having during the Paris-Nice. In agreement with the team's medical staff, we decided to not take any risks in view of the Northern Classics, and to observe a few more days of rest."

    Trentin, who will be making his Primavera debut, most recently prepared Francesco Chicci's winning sprint in the Nokere Koerse. 

    "I'm really sorry for Sylvain and I hope he gets better soon," Trentin said. "For me, to ride San Remo is a dream come true. I still haven't had the time to get used to the news, but I am very happy. I'm going to do my best, giving my all for the team."

  • Greipel confident for Milan-San Remo

    Article published:
    March 15, 2012, 11:56 GMT
    Cycling News

    Says Sagan takes mores risks than anyone in peloton

    Andre Greipel's nickname may be “The Gorilla”, but in reality he may be too much of a “Mr. Nice Guy” in mass sprints. But the Lotto Belisol rider still thinks he can win Milan-San Remo on Saturday.

    It will be only his second time in the race, and his first as captain there. During his years at HTC-Highroad, he had to stay behind Mark Cavendish in the pecking order, and in his first start in Milan last year, Philippe Gilbert was the Lotto captain. Now it is the 29-year-old German's turn.

    The most important thing for a sprinter at Milan-San Remo “is to be at the front when we hit the Poggio,” he told Het Nieuwsblad.  “If I don't have any problems getting over the climbs, then I think I can sprint for the win.”

    He is confident and has planned well for the race. “I pulled out of Tirreno-Adriatico to get some extra rest. I already have six victories in my pocket. The confidence is there. The condition is good. If I recuperate from the hard Tirreno I will be there.”

    Greipel opened the season by winning the Cancer Council Helpline Classic in Australia before going on to take four stages at the Tour Down Under and two at the Tour of Oman. He has not scored since then, which team manager Herman Frison said may be because he is “too nice.”

    "I am indeed not a sprinter who pushes and pulls, but is that necessary? When I see other guys, sometimes I think they are crazy,” Greipel said. “If I am pushed toward a barrier, I'm on the brakes and not going for the smallest hole. I would not fall.”

    Not all riders think of their safety, Greipel notes, and he feels that the rider who takes the most risks “must surely be (Peter) Sagan. He is still young...

  • Nine WorldTour teams to Bayern Rundfahrt in May

    One final white flag to start the 2011 Bayern Rundfahrt before the race packs up for next year.
    Article published:
    March 15, 2012, 13:53 GMT
    Cycling News

    Many teams use German race to warm up for Tour de France

    Nine WorldTour teams will be at the start of the Bayern Rundfahrt in May, many of them using the race as preparation for the Tour de France. Ten more teams, five each Professional Continental and Continental, are still to be announced.

    The World Tour teams are Euskaltel-Euskadi, FDJ-Big Mat, Garmin-Barracuda, RadioShack-Nissan, GreenEdge, Katusha, Lampre-ISD, Sky and Saxo Bank. 

    “Nearly half of the teams who will ride with us are starting later in France, often with the same line-ups,” said the race's new sports director, Hartmut Bölts.

    But  there could also be more Tour teams in Bavaria. “The further starting places in the Tour de France have not yet been announced.  But at least four the teams, who will get a wild-card from us, are also top candidates for the Tour de France,” said organizer Ewald Strohmeier. 

    The further start places will be announced in the coming weeks. 

    The Bayern Rundfahrt runs May 23 to 27.

  • Bontrager-Livestrong goes solo for Amgen Tour of California

    Connor O'Leary and the Bontrager Livestrong team
    Article published:
    March 15, 2012, 15:30 GMT
    Pat Malach

    U23 team separated from RadioShack to meet UCI rules

    After clearing the up the management issues that prevented its participation last year in races with its RadioShack WorldTour parent team, Bontrager-Livestrong welcomed its invitation this week to the 2012 Amgen Tour of California.

    Last season's problem stemmed from UCI code 2.2.001, which prevents teams with the same "paying agent" from participating in the same races.

    Livestrong's UCI Continental team, managed under the Austin-based Capital Sports & Entertainment company that also ran RadioShack, could not race with its WorldTour counterpart in 2011. The development team had accepted invitations to August's Tour of Utah and USA Pro Cycling Challenge last season when the UCI determined in July that the team's participation would violate its code and the invitations were quickly rescinded.

    But that issue became moot this year when RadioShack merged with Leopard-Trek in the off-season under the auspices of the Luxemburg team's ownership structure. USA Cycling Chief Operating Officer Sean Petty told Cyclingnews that the newly minted Bontrager-Livestrong Continental team is completely separate from the Radioshack-Nissan-Trek WorldTour team currently racing in Europe, clearing the way for the U23 team's invitation to the 2012 race in California.

    "The RadioShack-Nissan-Trek team is a Luxemburg-based company and owned by the person who owned the Leopard-Trek team in the past," Petty said. "Also, they created their own development team. So there's a separate development team that is designated as the development team for RadioShack-Nissan-Trek. So that's a separate...

  • Contador must accept the rules, says Freire

    Article published:
    March 15, 2012, 16:11 GMT
    Cycling News

    Spaniard takes aim at fourth Milan-San Remo

    Oscar Freire (Katusha) may be lining up in pursuit of a fourth Milan-San Remo title on Saturday, but in the build-up to La Classicissima, his home media seemed more concerned with canvassing his opinion on the suspended Alberto Contador.

    As sharp off the bike as he is canny on it, Freire noted that Contador’s two-year suspension for his positive test for Clenbuterol at the 2010 Tour de France was in keeping with the rules as they stand.

    “The sanction isn’t just, but these are the rules that we have in cycling and nobody has said or done anything to change them,” Freire told Marca. “If you want to compete here, you have to accept them.”

    Freire refused to be drawn either way on the thorny issue of Contador’s level of culpability in the matter. “Is he innocent? Maybe yes or maybe no,” Freire said. “Very few of those who test positive accept their guilt. It could be a question of food contamination…”

    While Contador is sidelined until August following last month’s Court of Arbitration for Sport ruling, another Spanish rider has enjoyed a winning return from suspension, Alejandro Valverde. Freire is an admirer of the Movistar rider, who has captured four wins since his ban for his links to Dr. Eufemiano Fuentes expired in January.

    “I prefer Valverde to Contador. If you come to a sprint with Contador, you know you can win. Not with Valverde,” he said.

    Freire leads a solid Katusha line-up at Saturday's Milan-San Remo, where he has an opportunity to take his fourth win, and match the feat of his...

  • Hushovd out of Milan-San Remo with fever

    Thor Hushovd (BMC) was dropped from the breakaway.
    Article published:
    March 15, 2012, 17:36 GMT
    Cycling News

    Norwegian catches Gilbert's bug

    Thor Hushovd will not participate in this weekend's Milan-San Remo after falling victim to a fever, his team announced today.

    The Norwegian, twice a podium finisher in the race (2005, 2009), was looking to be the team's protected sprinter on the BMC team for La Classicissima, but was sidelined by the same bug which brought Philippe Gilbert's Tirreno-Adriatico to a premature end.

    "Monday night I woke up with fever and was cold and sweating," Hushovd said. "I have felt bad for two days now so there's no chance to race on Saturday. I am really disappointed because it was obviously one of my first goals of the year."

    BMC expects Gilbert and Greg Van Avermaet, who has been struggling with a foot injury, to be back to nearly full strength for the weekend's Monument. "They are still not 100 percent, but we have two days to go. We are still pretty confident that we have a good team with good experience."

    Gilbert has been training and is beginning to feel better but he is hoping to ease into the 300km long race. "I have been riding easy in training and I hope to have a race that's easier at first, maybe with a headwind or something," Gilbert said. "I'll try to be smart and ride in a good position.

    "Milan-San Remo can be a very strange race where anything can happen. If it's not for me in the final, maybe it will be Alessandro Ballan or Greg Van Avermaet or someone else on our team. I think we have a good team and we aren't feeling pressure because we know we can be competitive."...