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First Edition Cycling News, Thursday, November 18, 2010

Date published:
November 18, 2010, 0:00 GMT
  • Armstrong investigation extends to French police

    Lance Armstrong in the 1999 Tour de France.
    Article published:
    November 17, 2010, 21:20 GMT
    Cycling News

    US government officially asked for cooperation

    US federal agents investigating charges of alleged doping on the former US Postal Service team, including seven-time Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong, have reportedly met with French police at the Interpol headquarters in Lyon, France today.

    The Associated Press reported today that the American delegation, led by FDA (Food and Drug Administration) agent Jeff Novitzky, interviewed members of the national police who are involved in investigating doping cases.

    The agency, the Environnement et santé publique (OCLAESP), was investigating syringes and illegal transfusion equipment discovered in a trash container at the 2009 Tour de France, and had questioned the Astana and Caisse d'Epargne team management in relation to this finding.

    Johan Bruyneel, the director of Astana in 2009, former US Postal Service team director and current director of Armstrong's RadioShack team was questioned as part of the OCLAESP investigation earlier this year, but the proceedings in that case have stalled.

    The agents yesterday questioned representatives of the French anti-doping agency, the AFLD (Agence Française de Lutte contre le Dopage), as part of the federal investigation which came to light earlier this year, when Armstrong's former US Postal Service teammate Floyd Landis confessed to doping and leveled accusations of widespread doping practices against Armstrong and the team management, including Bruyneel.

    A federal grand jury in Los Angeles has so far called a number of people to testify regarding Armstrong, including former teammates George Hincapie and Tyler Hamilton, and more recently Armstrong's current teammate Yaroslav Popovych.

    AP and Reuters have each reported that the US government officially asked the French agencies for their cooperation before the delegation arrived, and the French have agreed to assist the investigation.

    Former AFLD head Pierre Bordry offered...

  • Creed training in Italy for 2011 Kelly Benefit Strategies debut

    Mike Creed will join Kelly Benefit Strategies for the 2011 season.
    Article published:
    November 17, 2010, 22:17 GMT
    Daniel Benson

    Believes US team deserves invites to Amgen Tour of California, Quiznos Pro Challenge

    Michael Creed is hoping that an early start to his winter training will re-ignite his career after two disappointing seasons with Rock Racing and Team Type 1. Creed, 29, signed for US-based Continental team Kelly Benefit Strategies in September of this year and has been training in Lucca, Italy, in a bid to rediscover his racing appetite.

    "I missed out so on much last year so I've had to start training a lot sooner than I normally would have. Typically I would have started around November 25 but I've been trying to ride regularly since mid-October. My last race was in July, so it's been a long time since I've really tested myself," he told Cyclingnews.

    "I'm ahead of where I am normally in the winter but I really don't know what that means in terms of speed and power, I could still be really far behind in terms of being competitive."

    While training in Europe, Creed has clocked up over 3,000 kilometres, riding with the likes of former teammate Mario Cipollini and Thomas Dekker.

    "Cipo can go pretty well up the climbs but it's not that it was his forte, and it's not now even after retirement, so I wouldn't put a whole lot of stock into putting time into him on a climb," Creed joked.

    However, the serious work could start early in 2011 with Kelly Benefit Strategies planning to kick their season off in either Asia or South America.

    "We've not got our race program set in stone but it looks like things will start early in the year. My goal is just to race as much as I can and if I had my way I'd get in 90 days of racing next year. I just want to race.

    "With the last two years being completely messed up as far as racing goes I've been in this mental funk about it and a lot of opportunities have passed me by. When you get 25 days of racing in a year it's hard to call yourself a professional and you almost feel embarrassed to say it. I've not felt like a pro in the last couple of years."

    Two races that...

  • Smukulis signs with HTC-Highroad

    Stage winner Leigh Howard with the day's jersey holders: Tyler Farrar, Daniele Bennati and Gatis Smukulis
    Article published:
    November 18, 2010, 0:13 GMT
    Cycling News

    Latvian rewarded with a spot on international squad

    Team HTC-Highroad has announced the signing of 23-year-old Gatis Smukulis, bringing the squad's rider tally up to 24.

    The Latvian rider is a former winner of the U23 Ronde Van Vlaanderen (2008) and comes to the team after a two-year stint with the AG2R-La Mondiale squad.

    This season he scored podium places in both the time trial and road race at the Latvian national championships and it's for his all-round ability that HTC-Highroad hopes to continue the rider's development and integrate him into its Classics lineup.

    "Gatis is a very talented all around professional who likes the spring classics very much," said team manager Rolf Aldag. "He has earned respect in the peloton by [riding] long breakaways and is a very loyal teammate who helps his team leader.

    "We believe he has great potential and we want to help him to discover how far he can go."

    Smukulis said he is pleased to join the team. "I am grateful that I was recognised, and will prove myself in the best way I can. I will work with all my heart to show my membership in this strong and organised team."

  • Hulsmans joins Donckers Koffie-Jelly Belly

    Kevin Hulsmans (Quick Step)
    Article published:
    November 18, 2010, 9:56 GMT
    Cycling News

    Quick Step rider assumes leadership of small Belgian team

    Kevin Hulsmans has decided to sign up with Belgian Continental team Donckers Koffie-Jelly Belly. The Quick Step rider, who has spent his entire career in the pro cycling circuit with Patrick Lefevere, now has the opportunity to assume team leadership for a smaller outfit, which he hopes to develop further.

    "There are two important reasons for my move," the 32-year-old told Belgian news agency belga. "Firstly, I will be able to show myself in the forefront as a team leader, as I still have the ambition of winning races. Secondly, I want to bring the team to a higher level using my experience. With sports director and team owner Rudy Donckers I moreover work with someone who has been my mentor since the start of my career in the cycling school of Neerpelt."

    The team has already boosted its 2011 roster with new recruits Kurt Hovelynck from Quick Step, Ricardo Van Der Velde from Garmin-Transitions, Huub Duyn from NetApp as well as re-signing James Spragg and Michael Vanderaerden from the Qin team. With the addition of Hulsmans, who has been a valuable worker for such top level rider as Tom Boonen, the outfit is certain to make a stronger impact next season.

    Hulsmans became a pro in 2000 with Mapei, after winning the 1999 U23 Tour of Flanders. Other victories include a stage of the Niedersachsen Rundfahrt in 2000 and a stage of Circuit Franco-Belge in 2002.

  • Sky announces new co-sponsor

    Tim Howkins, Chief Executive of IG Group, and Bradley Wiggins
    Article published:
    November 18, 2010, 10:45 GMT
    Hedwig Kröner

    IG Markets to support British squad in 2011

    IG Markets, an international market-maker in financial derivatives and part of the IG Group, has been announced as an official partner of Team Sky from the start of the 2011 cycling season.

    Team Sky will carry the IG Markets brand on the collar and seat of all team kit for next season, starting with the Tour Down Under in Adelaide, Australia in January.

    "To start our second season with a world-leading partner in IG Markets is great news and a real testament to both our ambitions and achievements to date," added Dave Brailsford, Team Principal for Team Sky. "We are pleased to welcome them into the team and onto our kit."

    Tim Howkins, Chief Executive of IG Group said: "Although we have sponsored sports teams in the past, this is certainly our most significant venture so far. Cycling is currently going through a renaissance and we believe it has a specific appeal to our target audiences."

    IG Markets will be offering members of the public the opportunity to race against some of the team's stars - including Bradley Wiggins - on a set of Wattbikes. The event will be held in the City of London on Friday, November 26. For more details visit

  • Italian police meet with Novitzky in Lyon

    Yaroslav Popovych (Radioshack)
    Article published:
    November 18, 2010, 10:49 GMT
    Stephen Farrand

    Has Popovych become key to the investigation?

    US federal agents, including Jeff Novitzky, have met with Italian police, in addition to their French counterparts, according to a report in Gazzetta dello Sport.

    The investigation of alleged doping at the former US Postal Service team, including seven-time Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong, continues to pick up pace and this latest development comes off the back of Novitzky's meeting with the French Anti-Doping Agency (AFLD).

    Armstrong has repeatedly denied ever using banned substances during his career but the investigation has intensified thanks to coordination between US agents and investigators in Europe that began in July. Also said to be present in Europe are federal prosecutor Doug Miller and US Anti-doping Agency CEO Travis Tygart.

    AP and Reuters have reported that the US government officially asked the French authorities for their cooperation before the delegation arrived, and the French have agreed to assist the investigation. On Tuesday the US agents reportedly questioned the director of the Châtenay-Malabry anti-doping laboratory and the ex chief of the Agence française de lutte contre le dopage (AFLD) Pierre Bordry and current head of testing Jean-Pierre Verdy.

    Gazzetta dello Sport claims the Italian police revealed details of the recent search of Yaroslav Popovych’s home in Tuscany to the US investigators. Popovych’s address book, computer and mobile phones were seized. The search was carried out on Thursday November 11, just over a week after the Ukrainian rider was questioned in Los Angeles as part of the investigation.

    The Italian sports newspaper suggests that Popovych could have become a key to the investigation. He rode with Armstrong in 2005 at the Discovery Channel team, at Astana in 2009 and at RadioShack this year.

  • Details of 2012 Tour de France start official

    The start in Liege.
    Article published:
    November 18, 2010, 10:59 GMT
    Cycling News

    First three days from the Belgian Ardennes to Northern France

    Tour de France race director Christian Prudhomme from Amaury Sports Organisation (ASO) has released the details of the 2012 Grand Départ. Speaking at a press conference in the Palais provincial of Liège in Belgium, Prudhomme revealed the first three stages of the three-week Grand Tour starting in Liège, and travelling through Belgium's Ardennes region, home of ASO's other races Liège-Bastogne-Liège and Flèche Wallonne.

    On Saturday, June 30, the 2012 event will again set off with a prologue. The short individual race against the clock will take place on a 6.1km course in the heart of Liège - identical to the one where Swiss rider Fabian Cancellara was victorious in 2004. The start ramp will be located in the Avenue Rogier in the Parc d'Avroy and run alongside the river Meuse until it turns back to the park. Flat and not technical, this will be a course for the true specialists of the discipline.

    The first stage on Sunday over 180 kilometres will then see the riders head out of Liège onto the roads taken by the Ardennes Classics. After the official race start ceremony in front of the Palais des Princes-Évêques, stage one not only has hilly roads on the menu, but also the motor racing circuit of Spa-Francorchamps. The race will then make a detour through the Province of Luxembourg, via the Baraque de Fraiture, one of Belgium's highest bridges (652m) and Hotton, before moving back north to Seraing. This route seems tailor-made for Classics riders such as Philippe Gilbert, who has snubbed the Tour de France several times these last few years.

    Monday's stage two will be the peloton's third and final day in the Province of Liège. The race will set off from Visé, which will be hosting a Tour stage for the first time, with the stage finish not yet official. A return into France seems likely, but speculation also points to a finish in Tournai before a stage three...

  • Norwegian team sets the Tour de France as ultimate goal

    A Joker Bianchi rider signs in for stage 1.
    Article published:
    November 18, 2010, 11:04 GMT
    Susan Westemeyer

    Joker-Merida looks to move up the ladder

    The Norwegian Continental team Joker-Merida team has major plans for the future with the Tour de France as its ultimate goal. The team directeur sportif Gino Van Oudenhove said he envisions a team built around Edvald Boasson Hagen, with Norwegians making up half the team.

    The team is growing from six to twelve riders, with Merida replacing Bianchi as bike and co-sponsor. The team has served as a launch pad for a number of riders now in the ProTour, with Boasson Hagen being the best-known.

    Interest in cycling in Norway has grown even further following Thor Hushovd's victory at the world championship in Australia. The Norwegian cycling federation has also indicated interest in hosting the 2016 world championships.

    “We need a sponsor to offer at least 25 million Kroner (3.35 million Euro), and we should build the team around a future man like Edvald Boasson Hagen. The team should consist of 30 riders, of which at least half of them Norwegians,” Van Oudenhove said, according to the NTB news agency.

    “A rider like Edvald Boasson Hagen would have been number one in the world if there was a team built around him - like Eddy Merckx, Lance Armstrong and Tom Boonen have had,"he added.

    The plans for the team are long-term, with the first step obtaining Professional Continental status. Van Oudenhove sees the project taking between three and five years.

    Stian Steen-Olsen, representing sponsor Merida, said that there are two criteria which must be met: “First, one must believe that it is possible.”

    From there, “You must have cyclists who are good enough. Joker Merida has fostered such riders as Edvald Boasson Hagen and Norway already has world champion Thor Hushovd. We know that the Merida bikes are good enough.”

    “When it lacks only a few dollars,” Steen-Olsen said. “I say 'only' because I think the money is there.”