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First Edition Cycling News, Thursday, May 31, 2012

Date published:
May 31, 2012, 11:00
  • Duggan rides roller coaster to national title

    Timmy Duggan (Liquigas-Cannondale) arrives on the podium.
    Article published:
    May 30, 2012, 19:47
    Neil Browne

    American vying for Olympic, Tour de France teams

    Timmy Duggan of Liquigas-Cannondale has not had an easy time as a professional bike racer, he's had to overcome a string of injuries which turned his early career into a roller coaster ride. After many valleys, his peak came in this weekend's USA professional national championship road race, where he soloed away for over 15km to win the stars and stripes.

    After riding away from top favorites, including defending champion Matthew Busche (RadioShack-Nissan), Tom Danielson (Garmin-Barracuda), Tejay van Garderen (BMC Racing) and Ben Jacques-Maynes (Bissell Pro Cycling) on the Greenville course, Duggan crossed the line 15 seconds ahead of Frank Pipp (Bissell Pro Cycling) and Kiel Reijnen (Team Type 1 – Sanofi).

    "It's a good one to win. It was really satisfying because I have thought about that particular race for a long time and how I wanted to win it. And for it to come to fruition exactly how I thought it would is cool," Duggan said of his first major career victory.

    "I don't feel that things are totally different or I'm a different rider. For me this was no surprise. I've been busting my ass for a long time and now I got what I wanted. I'm ready for the next goal."

    Duggan's path to becoming national champion was never straight forward. In 2008, as a member of Slipstream-Chipotle, Duggan crashed in stage 3 of the 2008 Tour de Georgia. The damage was a broken clavicle and scapula. Additionally he also suffered traumatic brain injury.

    "There was a big question if I was going to be the same person again let alone get my career back again."

    He did come back and his return to professional racing was the 2008 professional time trial.

    "I did a few laps around the time trial course in Greenville as my ceremonial race back into the peloton. It's been a roller coaster after that."

    That roller coaster ride continued in 2009 at the Dauphiné Libéré with a second place in stage 8 and lining up for his first professional road world championships. However, with that peak came a valley.

    The 2010 season was marked by injury. In February he crashed on the last day of the Tour of the Mediterranean resulting in a fracture of the glenoid fossa – known to lay people as the shoulder socket.

    The next two months were focused on recovery. He restarted his season with April's Amstel Gold Classic. However, he crashed again, breaking his collarbone. This reduced the amount of days raced and during the off-season he transferred, along with fellow American Ted King, to Liquigas-Cannondale.

    The Italian team had an American bike sponsor and as such, it was important to have some representation from the States and Duggan got a second chance.

    He raced a limited European campaign, but toed the line in all the races that matter in North America: Amgen Tour of California, Philadelphia International Championship, Tour of Utah, USA Pro Cycling Challenge and the GP of Quebec and Montreal. Once again, he was selected to race the road world championships.

    His stock continued to rise in 2012 as he raced the early part of the season in Europe before returning to the States for the Amgen Tour of California.

    It was in stage 7, with the day ending at Mt Baldy, that showcased Duggan's strength. He towed the peloton through the mountain range like the seasoned veteran he is, and was an important part of teammate Peter Sagan's five stage wins in the California tour. It was no wonder that many people considered Duggan a strong contender for the upcoming Greenville professional road race championships.

    "It was a really satisfying Tour of California for myself and the team. It was cool to get a little more support and respect for my domestique duties."

    This being an Olympic year, the championship win can be a deciding factor for selection

    "There's no cut and dry automatic procedure," said Duggan. "They pick the team on who is going well. And there's no Olympic Trials – a winner takes all selection. They are making the selection pretty soon, and yes that would be something I would love to be a part of."

    Tyler Farrar, who is seen as the best American hope for the London Olympic road course, has been Duggan's teammate in the past and Duggan hopes this might also influence the selectors.

    "I hope the selectors would think I'd be a good part of the team. I have done my best these last months leading up to the selection. They obviously have a lot of difficult decisions to make for a one-day race."

    This is his second year as a member of the Italian team and his contract is due to expire. Was he exploring other options?

    "My contract is up at the end of the year. It has been a lot better this year for both my teammate Ted King and I. We've settled in to the team after a year of adjusting to a new culture, language and a way of doing things. This year as been more comfortable. I'm feeling pretty happy."

    When pressed if he is looking at other teams Duggan had a succinct "no comment" reply. However Duggan did say he would like to continue his career path on a World Tour team.

    This Sunday, Duggan returns to Europe and lining up for the Tour de Suisse. Further down the race calendar is the Grand Tour all riders dream of racing – the Tour de France.

    "I haven't spoken to my team about my participation in it," said Duggan. "Obviously the Tour is a huge career goal of mine."

    If selected for the Tour de France this would be his first Grand Tour and he keeps it in perspective.

    "It's still just a bike race."

  • Tour de Québec extends to five days

    Josh Dillon (BikeReg) looks back as he goes for a prime sprint.
    Article published:
    May 30, 2012, 21:30
    Cycling News

    National-level race back to full strength

    Organisers of the Tour de Québec announced this week that their July race will be back to its original five-day format, thanks to a partnership with title sponsor Desjardins.

    The race, scheduled to take place from July 25-29 will include a short prologue, two road races, one time trial along the St-Laurent River and two criteriums, one in St-Augustin and the final in Quebec City around the parliament.

    The race began in 2008 as a five-day event, but in recent years has been shortened to a multi-stage weekend race. Past champions include Guillaume Boivin and Bruno Langlois, now with Spidertech, and Josh Dillon, now with BikeReg/Cannondale. This year marks the first time since 2009 the race will be contested for the full five days.

    Participants are expected to include a mix of regional Quebec squads and international teams selected for the fifth edition of the race. Promoter Jean-Michel Lachance said, "We are still in discussions with over 20 teams among them, many from United States, but also France and Japan."

    BikeReg / Cannondale sports director Stephen Weller has already confirmed that 2009 champion Josh Dillon will come back to defend his title. "In general, there is a great interest from all teams with the new program presented over five days and everyone is excited and looking forward to competing in our beautiful region," said Lachance

    In addition to the men race, there is also a two-day women's race presented and masters categories during the weekend. In total, over 400 cyclists are expected.

    2012 Tour de Québec
    July 25: sprints - Rue St-Jean, Québec
    July 26: road race - Île d’Orléans
    July 27: road race - St-Joachim
    July 28 (am): time trial – Promenade Champlain
    July 28 (pm): criterium – St-Augustin
    July 29: criterium – Quebec City parliament

  • Tour de France contenders descend upon Dauphiné

    Article published:
    May 30, 2012, 23:52
    Cycling News

    Evans, Wiggins, Nibali top start list

    The top contenders for this year's Tour de France will head to the Criterium du Dauphiné this week, seeking to fine-tune their form for July and gain the kind of morale a big result in this preparation race can bring.

    The Dauphiné will feature the same teams which will compete in the Tour de France and many of their top riders including Tour champion Cadel Evans (BMC), last year's Dauphiné winner Bradley Wiggins (Team Sky), Europcar's Thomas Voeckler, Vuelta a Espana winner Juan Jose Cobo (Movistar), Tony Martin (Omega Pharma-Quickstep) and Janez Brajkovic (Astana).

    The test will be especially important for Evans, who last year used the Dauphiné not only to gain form but to scout the Grenoble time trial course which was used in both French races. The intimate course knowledge was critical to his Tour victory, but this season the courses do not overlap. The Dauphiné does, however, feature one 53km time trial and the 5.7km prologue which will help measure each contenders prowess against the clock ahead of the more than 100km of individual tests in July.

    Evans, who won the Critérium International in March but suffered from a sinus infection last month, will need to measure himself against his main competition, Wiggins, who won both Paris-Nice and the Tour de Romandie this season.

    "Dauphine is always a good race to see where you are at," said BMC's manager John Lelangue to the Herald Sun. "It will be pretty hard with a long time-trial and mountain stages but it's a one-week block of racing and you see a lot of GC contenders for the Tour are taking the same program.

    "We will be trying to test ourselves a little bit."

    Italian Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas-Cannondale) has built his 2012 season around the Tour de France, and will also be using this week's race to get back up to speed.

    "The Dauphiné is the best place to prepare for the Tour de France and my sole aim is to build my form for July," said Nibali, whose early season successes included stage wins in Tour of Oman and Tirreno-Adriatico and a podium in Liège-Bastogne-Liège.

    "After Liège-Bastogne-Liège," he said. "I took the days off I needed and since then I have only raced in the Tour of California, where I suffered, just as I expected (32nd in GC). But now I have the opportunity to take a step forward. I always start races with the objective to achieve the best possible result, so this is what I'll be aiming for in the Dauphiné."

    Teams will be announcing their final rosters in the coming days.

  • Colombia Coldeportes focussed on strong showing at Vuelta a Colombia

    Fabio Duarte (Colombia - Coldeportes)
    Article published:
    May 31, 2012, 02:21
    Cycling News

    Five men back up from California

    Colombia Coldeportes is back training in Colombia following their stint in the United States for the Tour of California. The ProConti outfit is now focussed on the Vuelta a Colombia which begins June 14.

    "This year's Vuelta a Colombia route is probably slightly easier than the previous in terms of overall altitude, and it's two days shorter than usual, but that won't make it an easier race itself," General Manager Claudio Corti explained. "They made it a more balanced race, and that helped to land here several non-Colombian teams – it's set to be an extremely contested one."

    "As usual, this race will be decided on mountains, but the two time trials scheduled on the first and final days have to be taken into fair account."

    The 10-man line up for the UCI 2.2 event is made up of half of the squad that rode California, where the team performed somewhat below expectations. Fabio Duarte was the best-placed for Colombia Coldeportes in California, finishing fifth overall behind winner Robert Gesink (Rabobank). Duarte and Darwin Atapuma took the minor placings behind the Dutchman on Mt Baldy.

    Atapuma, Duarte, Victor Hugo Peña, Carlos Julian Quintero, and Juan Pablo Suarez are all backing up with the remainder of the team for Colombia made up of Robinson Chalapud, Esteban Chaves, Juan Pablo Forero, Luis Felipe Laverde and Jeffry Romero.

    "I expect several sprint or breakaway chances throughout the 10 road stages," Corti said, "so we tried to find the best possible match to hold our own in every stage."

  • Women's Olympic road race allocations taking shape

    Nicole Cooke (Faren Honda) works hard on the climb
    Article published:
    May 31, 2012, 04:41
    Cycling News

    Stevens a virtual lock for USA's London Olympics team

    With no more women's races before the May 31 deadline to qualify nations for their Olympic Games spots, the UCI's nations rankings published yesterday are a good indication of which countries will send how many riders to London in July.

    The top five nations in the women's rankings as of May 29 are The Netherlands, Germany, the United States of America, Italy and Great Britain. The top five countries will send four women for the road race. The men's road race and individual time trial places have already been awarded. Time trial athletes must take part in the road race as part of the assigned allocation.

    The latest rankings also factor into the USA team selection. After winning La Flèche Wallonne and sitting seventh in the overall individual rankings, Evelyn Stevens is almost assured to be included in the USA team for London. The selection criteria include a World Cup win as a part of the selection criteria, but for only one athlete.

    Sprinter Shelley Olds won a World Cup as well, the Tour of Chongming Island, but the USA Cycling selection procedure states that if more than one rider wins a World Cup, the highest ranked rider in the World Cup first, or UCI rankings next will determine who is given the nod.

    Since Olds and Stevens are each at 75 points in the World Cup rankings, Stevens' seventh in the UCI rankings trumps Olds' 30th place.

    The countries ranked sixth through 13th will be awarded three places, which should go to Sweden, Australia, Russia, Belgium, Canada, France, Brazil and South Africa.

    Some countries with two slots, those ranked 14th-23rd will have one position removed if all of the countries with riders in the top 100 individual rankings don't already have an allocation by virtue of their position in the nations rankings.

    Since there are 10 nations that meet the above criteria, all 10 of the countries ranked 14th through 23rd will have one position: Lithuania, New Zealand, Venezuela, Cuba, Luxembourg, Ukraine, China, El Salvador, Belarus and Norway.

    Mexico, Thailand, Finland, Chinese Taipei, Estonia, Azerbaijan, Japan, Poland, Korea and Slovenia should be also added to the roster with one position each.

    To fill out the 67-woman start list, Asian, African and American continental champions award positions for countries not already given a quota (Hong Kong, Mauritius and Chile, respectively).

    Olympic women's road race qualifications per nation, estimated

    # Country Quota
    1 Netherlands 4  
    2 Germany 4  
    3 United States Of America 4  
    4 Italy 4  
    5 Great Britain 4  
    6 Sweden 3  
    7 Australia 3  
    8 Russian Federation 3  
    9 Belgium 3  
    10 Canada 3  
    11 France 3  
    12 Brazil 3  
    13 South Africa 3  
    14 Lithuania 1  
    15 New Zealand 1  
    16 Venezuela 1  
    17 Cuba 1  
    18 Luxembourg 1  
    19 Ukraine 1  
    20 People's Republic of China 1  
    21 El Salvador 1  
    22 Belarus 1  
    23 Norway 1  
    24 Mexico 1  
    25 Thailand 1  
    26 Korea 1  
    27 Finland 1  
    28 Chinese Taipei 1  
    29 Poland 1  
    30 Estonia 1  
    31 Japan 1  
    32 Switzerland    
    33 Azerbaijan 1  
    34 Slovenia 1  
    35 Mauritius 1  
    36 Hong Kong, China 1  
    37 Colombia    
    38 Czech Republic    
    39 Greece    
    40 Mongolia    
    41 Ireland    
    42 Zimbabwe    
    43 Portugal    
    44 Israel    
    45 Turkey    
    46 Spain    
    47 Austria    
    48 Denmark    
    49 Malaysia    
    50 Romania    
    51 Serbia    
    52 Croatia    
    53 Belize    
    54 Eritrea    
    55 Vietnam    
    56 Hungary    
    57 Guyana    
    58 Netherlands Antilles    
    59 Morocco    
    60 Kazakhstan    
    61 Chile    
    62 Argentina    
    63 Antigua and Barbuda    
    64 Ivory Coast    
    65 Namibia    
    66 Latvia    
    67 Egypt    
  • Tanner rolls with the punches

    David Tanner
    Article published:
    May 31, 2012, 06:28
    Jane Aubrey

    Australian all-rounder eyeing worlds berth

    While many of the riders taking on next week's Critérium du Dauphiné will do so with an eye to the Tour de France, it's unlikely to be the case for Saxo Bank's David Tanner as he winds down this half of his season.

    Tanner had been due to make his grand tour debut at the Giro d'Italia before the residual effects from a crash at Circuit de la Sarthe ended his hopes.

    "It was just disappointing because if things were done differently after the crash I had, and I had time to recover, then I would have been fine to do it but I kept racing," he told Cyclingnews. "I'm not so disappointed about not being there, it was more the situation that I was in. But anyway, that's cycling and I'll get another chance another time. I'm not bitter about it at all."

    The 27-year-old admits that while nothing will make up for the fact that he has missed the Giro, he's primed to make the best of the opportunities he has at the Dauphiné, now back to full fitness following Bayern Rundfahrt. The eight-stage event, while not overly suited to his strengths, will see Tanner in support for JJ Haedo in the limited sprinting opportunities and also for GC hopes Jesus Hernandez and Danny Navarro as the race heads into the mountains.

    After the Dauphiné, Tanner will race the Tour de Slovenie before taking a six week break from competition which will provide him with a launching pad for an important back end of 2012.

    Interesting times at Saxo Bank

    With a new co-sponsor, Spanish timeshare group Anfi, in the works for Bjarne Riis' outfit and it looking ever more likely that Alberto Contador will return from his clenbuterol ban with his former team, the next few months at the Danish-registered team could prove formative.

    Contador's movements could prove pivotal in Tanner's quest for a start in a grand tour with the Vuelta a Espana a possibility for the Australian should the Spaniard not return to Saxo Bank.

    "I've got no idea to tell you the truth," Tanner admitted when quizzed on the likelihood of Contador's return to the team. "No one talks about it. I only know as much as what everyone else sees on Cyclingnews. It's not like we get updates via email or anything like that. It would be nice to know but it's like everything. There's always speculation, but until they make an announcement then I try not to think about it."

    As Saxo Bank languishes at the bottom of the UCI points table for the season so far, there is continued speculation on what the wash-up will be should the team not get some big results on the board. Under UCI rules, any points Contador gains over the next two years would not count for the team. Riis has indicated he is willing to challenge those UCI rules.

    "It's a tricky case, because there are many other rules to be observed. It's more complicated than that," he said in April. "I'm getting tired of it, but it is evidently a part of the game. Right now though we ride our races and that is where we try to keep our focus."

    Tanner gave Cyclingnews some insight as to what is has been like for the riders.

    "I don't feel the team is pushing us saying ‘we need points, we need points' – it's not as if we're going to try any more or any less," he explained. "Everyone is trying as hard as they can now. Everyone knows that it's there but we're not reminded of it consistently."

    Limburg would be nice...

    Tanner's season is once again set to finish quite late – in 2011 he rode all the way through to the Japan Cup in October. But it's not such a bad thing for the Victorian. During his downtime, Tanner will head to altitude in Boulder, Colorado in preparation for what he hopes is a fruitful few months which should include the Eneco Tour and GP Ouest France – Plouay.

    In the back of his mind is a spot on the Australian team for the UCI Road World Championships in Limburg – an area Tanner loves to race in and is well-suited to and would prove quite dangerous in tandem with Simon Clarke.

    "I like the conditions and the terrain and I'd love to go there and support Cadel [Evans] and Simon [Gerrans] but I think at this stage I don't have the results to warrant a spot," he said. "Hopefully the team's not too decided at the moment. I'd love to do it but I need performances."

    Tanner hasn't celebrated a win since 2010 at the Tour of China, and this is something he's keen to rectify – "it's the stimulation that reminds you of why you work hard and why you make the sacrifices that you make."

    He will admit to be slightly frustrated by the fact that another season has been punctuated by injury, but Tanner won't allow himself to be defined by it.

    "There's all these good races at the end of the year and I love racing," Tanner told Cyclingnews. "I'd prefer to finish off the year really motivated and eager than to just go through the motions like some guys do so for me it's not a big deal.

    "I had a lot of hurdles with the bad accident [in 2010] that I had and I guess it is one factor but I don't look into it too much. It's just the way that I've always been. You have to keep pushing forward at all times. Just because you have one problem doesn't mean that it's the end of the season. It's important to try and stay positive."

  • Norwegian team named for London 2012 Olympics

    Alexander Kristoff and Edvald Boasson Hagen were pillars of strength for Thor Hushovd (centre) on the Norwegian team.
    Article published:
    May 31, 2012, 10:09
    Cycling News

    Hushovd and Boasson Hagen lead the line

    With just under two months to the London 2012 Olympics, Norway has named its men’s road team for the Games, with Thor Hushovd (BMC) and Edvald Boasson Hagen (Sky) leading the line.

    The pair are joined in the four-man team by Alexander Kristoff (Katusha) and Lars Petter Nordhaug (Sky), while Gabriel Rasch (FDJ-BigMat) and Vegard Stake Laengen (Team Type 1) have been listed as reserves for the road race, which takes place on July 28. Boasson Hagen will also participate in the time trial on August 1.

    Used to competing at the world championships with significantly fewer riders than rival nine-man squads (a handicap which of course did not prevent Hushovd from taking the rainbow jersey in 2010), the balance will be tilted more in favour of the Norwegian team in London, with the five the maximum number of riders allotted to any nation.

    “This is a difficult race to control because each nation has fewer riders at the start than at the Worlds,” said Norwegian director of sport Steffen Kjærgaard. “This will be an advantage for the Norwegian team, as we have more riders at a high level to determine the race in our favour."

    Hushovd has been named as the team’s road captain for London, but this does not necessarily mean that he will be the leader on the day. “It’s too early to say at this time,” said Kjærgaard.

    Norwegian men's road team for London 2012 Olympics:

    Road race: Thor Hushovd (BMC), Edvald Boasson Hagen (Sky), Alexander Kristoff (Katusha), Lars Petter Nordhaug (Sky) Reserves: Gabriel Rasch (FDJ – BigMat), Vegard Stake Laengen (Team Type 1)

    Time trial: Edvald Boasson Hagen (Team Sky)


  • Giro d'Italia wildcards prove their worth

    Domenico Pozzovivo (Colnago - CSF)
    Article published:
    May 31, 2012, 10:51
    Cycling News

    Stage wins for Colnago, Farnese and Androni vindicate invites

    The four wildcard teams invited to the 2012 Giro d'Italia certainly enriched the event, lighting up the race at various points over the three weeks. While Garmin-Barracuda's Ryder Hesjedal and Katusha's Joaquim Rodriguez fought out an intriguing battle for the pink jersey, there was plenty to be proud of for Colnago CSF-Inox, Farnese Vini-Selle Italia, Androni-Venezuela and Team NetApp.

    In the overall classification, Colnago's riders performed best. Domenico Pozzovivo secured the biggest victory of his career in front of his home fans by dancing clear to win at Lago Laceno on stage 8. He was unable to sustain his challenge for pink into the race's final week but he still dug in and managed to finish eighth overall. His teammate and countryman Gianluca Brambilla also made the top 15 (13th overall) and finished third overall in the young riders standings.

    "I hope this victory, my first in the Giro, inspires other riders from the south of Italy to try to turn professional in these difficult financial times," an emotional Pozzovivo said after his triumph at Lago Laceno. "There are just two pros from my region and I would like there to be more."

    Elsewhere, both Farnese and Androni won two stages apiece, delighting their fans, sponsors and the race organisers. Matteo Rabottini and Andrea Guardini won stages 15 and 18 respectively for Farnese, with the latter's duel with king of the sprinters Mark Cavendish providing one of the race's most abiding memories. Rabottini's long, solo raid to Pian dei Resinelli not only brought him stage honours, but also set him up for victory in the mountains classification and he duly reached Milan as the first winner of the new blue jersey.

    Miguel Rubiano started the ball rolling for Androni by soloing to victory in stage 6, and a few days later Roberto Ferrari, who had been at the centre of a controversial crash at the end of stage 3 in Denmark, sprinted to victory in stage 11. After his victory Ferrari paid tribute to team manager Gianni Savio, who he singled out as a big factor in his improved form.

    "Before now, I'd never ridden a lot, or at least not consistently through the year," Ferrari said. "But thanks to Gianni I've done a full calendar for the past two seasons."

    While they didn't secure a victory of their own, Team NetApp made many friends over the course of the Giro. They operate on a fraction of the budget of their rivals in Italy but managed to secure two second places and eight top ten finishes.

    "The team far exceeded our expectations," said team manager Ralph Denk. "Our goal was to come in among the top ten in at least one stage. And now we have stood on the podium twice.”