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First Edition Cycling News, Thursday, March 18, 2010

Date published:
March 18, 2010, 0:00 GMT
  • McEwen out of San Remo, Katusha to ride for Pozzato

    Robbie McEwen (Katusha)
    Article published:
    March 17, 2010, 13:02 GMT
    Richard Tyler

    Australian sprinter says Tom Boonen the favourite

    Katusha's Robbie McEwen will miss Saturday's Milan-San Remo, with his Russian ProTour team to place their hopes of victory in hands of Filippo Pozzato. McEwen predicted Tom Boonen (Quick Step) as the favourite for Saturday's race.

    McEwen rode alongside Pozzato at Tirreno-Adriatico, where the Australian showed strong sprint form on two stages. Despite his condition, Katusha have decided to bet against a mass-sprint finale in San Remo.

    "It was the team's decision. I was prepared and ready to ride, but the team's elected to build the team around Pozzato and ride for one leader," McEwen told Cyclingnews on Wednesday. "I would have liked to ride, but my team has decided to go without a sprinter and I have to respect that decision."

    Although disappointed to miss out on an eighth attempt at the Italian Classic, McEwen said the race will provide the ultimate assessment of his team's tactics.

    "My form's good. I got through Tirreno and it was a hard race. I was fourth on the stage to Montecatini Terme which was a bit like a mini Milan-San Remo," he said.

    "But Pozzato's also riding well. Milan-San Remo's completely unpredictable. You can expect one thing and you'll get something completely different. You can plan all you want, but you'll only know afterwards whether it was the right way to go or not."

    Boonen the man to beat

    McEwen had little hesitation in naming Tom Boonen at the front of his list of favourites. The Quick Step star rode to his first ever victory on Italian soil last week at Tirreno-Adriatico, and McEwen believes the Belgian's climbing form could see him break his duck at the Italian monument.

    "Pozzato's one of a number of guys that can win it, but there's probably 10 to 12 other guys that are contenders," McEwen said of his own teammates chances. "Boonen and [Liquigas' Daniele]...

  • Tour of Flanders names 25 teams

    Stijn Devolder on the Kapelmuur in 2009.
    Article published:
    March 17, 2010, 15:43 GMT
    Laura Weislo

    Vacansoleil, Skil-Shimano two of seven wild cards

    Tour of Flanders organisers have announced a 25 team roster for the cobbled Spring Classic, with all 18 current ProTour teams included on the list in addition to seven wildcard teams.

    BMC heads the list of the Professional Continental squads, with 2007 winner Alessandro Ballan expected to lead the team in de Ronde with Classics specialists George Hincapie and Marcus Burghardt.

    Other additions are the Cervélo TestTeam of 2005 runner-up Andreas Klier, Belgian teams Landbouwkrediet and Topsport Vlaanderen-Mercator, Dutch squads Skil-Shimano and Vacansoleil and French team Bbox Bouygues Telecom.

    Not included amongst the wildcards is the Cofidis team, which dropped from the ProTour to Professional Continental ranks this year. Team director Eric Boyer told Cyclingnews that the team had requested an invite to the race, but "unfortunately, to my great regret, we are not invited."

    Double champion Stijn Devolder will be back to defend his title with the Quick Step team alongside 2005 and '06 winner Tom Boonen, while Saxo Bank's Fabian Cancellara and Katusha's Filippo Pozzato have also announced their ambitions for the Belgian race.

    Team RadioShack has stated that Lance Armstrong will captain its team for the Tour of Flanders in order to prepare for the cobbles that he will face at the Tour de France in July. Stage three of the Tour covers 207 kilometres from Wanze, Belgium, to Arenburg Porte du Hainaut, France.

    While Astana is on the list of invited teams, two-time Tour de France winner Alberto Contador did not list the Ronde van Vlaanderen amongst his races for April, choosing instead to race the Ardennes Classics La Flèche Wallonne and Liège - Bastogne - Liège.

    Teams for the 2010 Tour of Flanders

    Quick Step
    Omega Pharma-Lotto
    Caisse d'Epargne
    AG2R La Mondiale
    Française des Jeux

  • Riccò to return at the Coppi & Bartali stage race

    Riccardo Riccò
    Article published:
    March 17, 2010, 17:35 GMT
    Stephen Farrand

    Disgraced Italian repentant on the eve of his return from doping ban

    Riccardo Riccò’s 20-month ban for doping ends on Thursday and the Italian climber will be back in action next week at the Coppi & Bartali stage race near his home in the Emilia Romagna region of central Italy.

    Riccò had hoped to make his return at Milan-San Remo on Saturday but his Ceramica Flaminia team was not selected for the race a few days after Riccò's partner Vania Rossi tested positived for CERA. Riccò tested positive for the same blood-boosting drug during the 2008 Tour de France. The two have separated since Rossi’s positive, with Riccò spending most of his time training at altitude on Mount Etna in Sicily ready for his return.

    Riccò has rarely shown sign of remorse for his doping but has publicly asked for forgiveness as his ban comes to an end.

    “This is like a second debut for me and it’s a strange feeling. I’ve been a racer since I was a boy. I’ve made lots of season debuts but this one is the most important of my career,” Riccò said in a statement.

    “I’ve worked really hard to be ready for this new opportunity. Cycling is my job and I won’t make the same mistakes of the past. I’d like to thank all the people who have shown their support. I want to thank my new team; I’ve go fantastic teammates, well-prepared directeur sportifs and excellent staff. Working with them has given me the peace of mind I needed.”

    “I also want to thank the rivals I’ll face during the season: I made a mistake, I know, but I’m human, too and people make mistakes in life. I’m sorry. I want to apologise to all the cycling fans, cyclists, officials, journalists, everyone in the world of cycling. My errors are part of my past and from now on you’ll get to know a new Riccardo. I’ve never lost my enthusiasm for cycling, indeed it’s stronger...

  • US Open of Cycling cancelled

    Tuft with his first win on US soil
    Article published:
    March 17, 2010, 21:29 GMT
    Cycling News

    Lack of sponsors delays return until 2011

    The US professional calendar will be one event shorter this year after organisers of the US Open of Cycling announced today that it has cancelled race scheduled for May 4, 2010 in Providence, Rhode Island.

    The US Open Cycling Foundation cited a lack of significant corporate sponsorship for its decision to cancel this year’s professional cycling event, but said it hopes to run the event in May 2011.

    It has been three years since the first US Open of Cycling was run in Richmond, Virginia in April, 2007. The race was held in epic conditions thanks to a rare spring snowfall that year. Canadian Svein Tuft won the event, but since then, the race has failed to get off the ground again.

    Richard Durishin, executive director of the U.S. Open Cycling Foundation, said, "Unfortunately, we have not been able to secure the sponsorship needed to run the U.S. Open of Cycling this year and are cancelling the event. We have already begun discussions with potential sponsors for the 2011 race and we hope that, by then, the interested parties are enjoying the fruits of a more robust economy."

    The race was to be part of USA Cycling's Professional Tour, a series of now nine events which begins next month with the Tour of Battenkill and concludes with the USA Cycling Professional championships in Greenville, South Carolina in September.

  • No Redlands for defending champ Louder

    Jeff Louder and Cadel Evans lead a smaller group of riders up the hills, with some of their teammates already up the road.
    Article published:
    March 18, 2010, 7:10 GMT
    Kirsten Frattini

    BMC to support Evans in Criterium International

    Jeff Louder (BMC Racing Team) will not be defending his title at the Redlands Bicycle Classic on March 25-28 in California. Louder is scheduled to support his teammate and current UCI road world champion Cadel Evans at the Criterium International held the same weekend in France.

    "Since the BMC Racing Team has grown and switched focus to a European-based program I will be unable to defend my title at the RBC this year," Louder told Cyclingnews.

    "I wish I could be two places at once, but my goals are in Europe and I will be racing Criterium International in support of Cadel Evans the weekend of Redlands," he added. "I will be following the results and expect a great race amongst the racers in the US."

    The Redlands Bicycle Classic is a four-day stage race and the first event on the National Racing Calendar (NRC) series. Last year, BMC displayed an outstanding performance when Louder won the stage one and his teammate Jackson Stewart won stage two. Louder went on to win the overall title ahead of Tom Zirbel who placed second and Ben Day in third.

    This year, the Redlands Bicycle Classic's Pro/Cat 1 men's peloton will host 26 teams totaling nearly 200 riders. "We will have all the best teams in North America represented," said Scott Welsh, marketing director of the Redlands Bicycle Classic. "We are looking for a spectacular week of racing to kick off the NRC."

    The BMC Racing Team will announce the riders competing alongside Evans and Louder at the Criterium International at a later date.

  • Rabobank look to Freire for Milan-San Remo glory

    Oscar Freire (Rabobank) wins in Ruta del Sol
    Article published:
    March 18, 2010, 10:11 GMT
    Cycling News

    Spaniard says he hopes to ride in 2011 for Dutch team

    Rabobank will look to Oscar Freire to lead the team at Milan-San Remo on Saturday, although there are question marks over his health. The Spaniard, who already has three wins this season, and has won San Remo twice, has also said he hopes to stay with the Dutch team until the end of his career.

    “Freire is our main spearhead, if he is fit,” said directeur sportif Erik Dekker. The three-time World Champion was not feeling well going into Tirreno-Adriatico, and was not involved in any of the sprint finishes.

    The Spaniard, who won Milan – San Remo in 2004 and 2007, has begun his season in strong form, winning the Trofeo Cala Millor, and two consecutive stages in the Vuelta a Andalucia.

    Freire will be supported by Maarten Tjallingii, Lars Boom, Sebastian Langeveld, Nick Nuyens, Bram Tankink, Tom Leezer and Paul Martens. “A strong team. Men who know how to fight,” according to Dekker.

    Maarten Tjallingii, recently suffered a serious crash in Tirreno-Adriatico but has fully recovered. He rode Nokere Koerse on Wednesday with no problems.

    "Obviously, we can use a man like Maarten in Milan - San Remo,” Dekker said. “Last year he was our man in the escape, and he was recently in good form. But of course it is a small miracle. I have spoken with people who saw him crash, and they said he wouldn't have a chance this week. But he's obviously as hard as nails."

    Freire hopes to end career with Dutch team

    Freire indicated that he does not plan to retire at the end of this season, but would like to keep on riding through 2011. "Preferably with Rabobank,” he told the Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf.

    "Here everybody knows what I can do I know their value. I hope they will want to continue with me and that give me a timely indication. I have earned that respect in the past years."


  • Cancellara quietly confident for Milan-San Remo

    World Champion Fabien Cancellara (Saxo Bank)
    Article published:
    March 18, 2010, 10:26 GMT
    Stephen Farrand

    Saxo Bank rider reveals he is still considering the hour record

    Fabian Cancellara (Saxo Bank) did not ride last year's Milan-San Remo due to illness and a difficult winter, but he will be at the start in Milan on Saturday and many expect him to try another late attack, just as he did when he won La Primavera in 2008.

    The world time trial champion won the Tour of Oman in February but kept a low profile at Tirreno-Adriatico, finishing 43 minutes behind overall winner Stefano Garzelli. But he has been quietly building his form for the Spring Classics.

    "Last year was a dark spring for me but now the sun has come out," he told Gazzetta dello Sport.

    "I've learnt a lot from what happened last year, especially as a person. I've matured a lot and that's very important. A rider's career is short and afterwards you've got to face the rest of your life.

    "My form's not bad. I didn’t go too deep at Tirreno-Adriatico and now I've also got the experience and the right mental strength. I'm confident of what I can do."

    Cancellara knows that the possible bad weather could play a huge factor in Milan-San Remo. He's also been studying his rivals.

    "If it rains, it'll make a really hard race because from the Turchino onwards, we'll be on the brakes and then constantly accelerating again," he said.

    "I've noticed that Boonen and Pozzato seem to be a little bit better than everyone else. The Manie climb will be the crucial point for Tom. If he gets over it okay, then he can be really dangerous. Pippo won't have McEwen with him and so the Katusha team will ride an aggressive race, just as he likes it. Of course, there are a lot of riders going well and who could win San Remo: Flecha, Boasson Hagen, Bennati, and even Scarponi, Garzelli and Petacchi aren't going bad. Oscar Freire struggled at Tirreno but Saturday he could be up there too."

    No rainbow, no Shiv

    Missing out on the world road race title in Switzerland last year has made...

  • Andy Schleck adds Catalunya to race calendar

    Best young rider Andy Schleck (Saxo Bank)
    Article published:
    March 18, 2010, 10:44 GMT
    Cycling News

    Knee problems resolved, Luxembourger is optimistic for Tour success

    Andy Schleck is confident that he has finally overcome the knee problems that have slowed him during the early part of the season and says he is getting stronger day after day. However because of the training time he has lost, the Saxo Bank rider has re-arranged his spring race calendar, adding the Volta a Catalunya after discussions with his team.

    “We agreed the race contains a good amount of race kilometres and it will improve my preparations for the Ardennes Classics later on,” he said on the Saxo Bank team website. “I feel I am at the same level now as last year at this time and I am certain that I will be able to defend my title in Liege-Bastogne-Liege.”

    Schleck, 24, will ride Milan – San Remo on Saturday. He was supposed to then ride three Belgian one-day races, but they have now been scrapped in favour of the Spanish stage race.

    The Luxembourger recently rode Tirreno-Adriatico. “I know we did not take home any big results from Tirreno but that was never my objective. For me it was all about getting through the race without feeling any pain and I was actually feeling stronger every day,” he said. “It was a very tough course with numerous steep climbs and pulling through without knee problems was proof to me that I am right back on track.”

    Tour de France

    Looking forward to later in the season, Schleck said he is convinced “that the team is stronger than last year and for that reason I am looking so much forward to this year's Tour de France where we have big plans.”

    Schleck, who last year finished second in the Tour de France behind Alberto Contador, is leaving nothing to chance this year. He will study the key stages in the Alps and Pyrenees at special training camps, as well as “going to pay the Belgian and Dutch roads a visit to get to know the course thoroughly.”

    May will also be a big month. He ...