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First Edition Cycling News, Thursday, September 17, 2009

Date published:
September 17, 2009, 1:00 BST
  • ProTour 2010: decision on RadioShack and Sky close

    ProTour director Alain Rumpf
    Article published:
    September 16, 2009, 13:00 BST
    Richard Tyler

    ProTour licence commission makes first selections on Friday

    Team RadioShack and Sky could know as soon as Friday whether or not they will form part of the International Cycling Union's (UCI) ProTour in 2010. An independent ProTour licence commission is close to a decision on each of the eight teams who have applied, UCI's ProTour Manager, Alain Rumpf, told Cyclingnews.

    RadioShack, Sky and Skil-Shimano have applied for new licences, while AG2R La Mondiale, Bbox Bouygues Telecom, Cofidis, Lampre-NGC and Milram have all applied for renewal. The ProTour licence commission, who operate independent of the UCI, is currently making final evaluations on each team's eligibility.

    "The ProTour licence commission has had three hearings so far and all candidates have been heard by the licence commission," said Rumpf. "We [the UCI] are expecting the first decisions to be made on Friday."

    There are 13 teams who already have a licence for 2010. With the licence commission able to issue a maximum of seven ProTour licences, at least one of the eight teams is certain to miss out. "The UCI regulations limit the number of ProTour licences to 20, so the licence commission cannot issue more than that."

    More than one team could miss out on a ProTour licence. The licence commission has the power to deny a licence to any team that lacks the qualifications for ProTour status.

    "The licence commission has no obligation to issue 20 licences," said Rumpf. "So it could be that there are less than 20 ProTour teams for 2010, but this is up to the licence commission to decide."

    The licence commission bases its assessment on three criteria: sporting, ethical and financial structures. The commission has strictly assessed each of the eight teams, including one-on-one interviews between the team managers and the UCI's anti-doping department.

    "The licence commission looks at the quality of results the team has achieved in 2009, the riders on its team and, in the case of new teams, the quality of...

  • Contador supports powerful Spain for Worlds

    Spaniard Alberto Contador bets on his home team for the World Championships
    Article published:
    September 16, 2009, 13:35 BST
    Gregor Brown

    Tour de France winner to skips Worlds, but warns Spain is strongest

    Tour de France winner Alberto Contador will skip the World Championships next Sunday in Mendrisio, Switzerland, but warns his Spanish team will be the "most powerful" team.

    "Spain has the most powerful team for this race, with three great leaders: Samuel Sánchez, Alejandro Valverde and Oscar Freire. And they will have good helpers with them," Contador told Cyclingnews.

    This year's 262.2-kilometres course features more climbing, 4655 metres, than recent years. There are two climbs, Acqua Fresca and Novazzano, on the 13.8-kilometre circuit, with the last coming 2.5 kilometres from the finish.

    Freire is a sprinter, but has won three World Champion titles (Lisbon in 2001, Verona in 1999 and 2004).

    "The circuit is ideal for our leaders, also for Oscar, because he is very motivated for this race," continued Contador. "My best memories are from the first year that Freire won in Verona, when he attacked alone and he was a unknown rider."

    Besides the Spaniards, Contador listed Andy Schleck (Luxembourg), Fabian Cancellara (Switzerland) and Damiano Cunego (Italy) as favourites.

    Contador's last race was his second Tour de France win in July. He decided to end his season early and skip the Worlds, in order to prepare for 2010 and a likely change from team Astana. The last time a Tour winner went on to win the Worlds in the same year was in 1989, when USA's Greg LeMond won in Chambéry, France.

    "It is difficult to do, but not impossible," Contador said of the Tour-Worlds double. "The most important is to do the Vuelta a España if you want to be competitive at Worlds."

    The chances of a Tour winner winning the Worlds in the next two years are small. The next two years are suited to sprinters: Melbourne, Australia, in 2010 and Copenhagen, Denmark, in 2011.

    Contador is the only active rider to have won all three Grand Tours. He won the Giro d'Italia and Vuelta a...

  • ProTour 2010: Astana reassures UCI

    Team Astana rides to a stage win in the team time trial at the Tour de France.
    Article published:
    September 16, 2009, 14:55 BST
    Richard Tyler

    UCI President satisfied after Kazakhstan meeting

    ProTour team Astana has given assurances to the International Cycling Union (UCI) of its financial stability for 2010. The team had been close to losing its ProTour licence earlier this year after the non-payment of rider salaries, but its Kazakh sponsors have told UCI President Pat McQuaid that it is a situation that will not be repeated.

    "There will be protection put in place. I visited Kazakhstan two weeks ago and had a discussion with the minister for tourism and sport," McQuaid told Cyclingnews on Wednesday. "He assured me that they had put in place financial measures that would ensure that the same problems didn't occur this year."

    All UCI ProTour teams are subject to an annual review in order to ensure their licence for the following year. While McQuaid did not detail the measures that Astana has put in place, his comments indicate that stability has returned to the team after a period of uncertainty in the first half of this year.

    Astana had looked to be hanging by a thread in May and June after salary payments to riders were delayed and a bank guarantee required for ProTour membership was withdrawn. However, an eleventh-hour reprieve came after the Kazakh government – owners of the Astana ProTour licence – were able to provide $9 million to ensure the future of the team through 2009.

    Astana still holds its four-year ProTour licence, which will be up for renewal at the end of 2010. Although the team is not one of eight whose applications are currently being considered by the ProTour licence commission, McQuaid said Astana had been closely scrutinised by the commission this year.

    "The licence commission had quite a lot of things to deal with last year with...

  • Evans fighting on at the Vuelta

    Cadel Evans (Silence-Lotto)
    Article published:
    September 16, 2009, 15:09 BST
    Shane Stokes

    Silence-Lotto captain with three chances left to make up time

    Time is running out for Cadel Evans at this year's Vuelta a España. Wednesday's stage to Talavera de la Reina is mainly flat and expected to end in another bunch sprint and the same can be said for Sunday's final stage to Madrid. That presents the Australian with three days in which to try to make up his 1:51 deficit to overall leader Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne).

    It's a task that he admits is a difficult one. "I will continue on as I do, trying to do the best Vuelta as I can," he told Cyclingnews. "Losing eight seconds for not being able to sprint for the time bonus one day; that happens, and maybe losing a second here and second there; okay, but I lost one minute and 23 seconds on Saturday and that might be the difference between first and third."

    The Silence - Lotto rider's chances took a nose dive on the stage to Sierra Nevada. He punctured at a crucial moment, lost time due to a slow wheel change and, to add insult to injury, received a penalty for accepting a bottle once on his new bike.

    "I was going really well," he said. "I was really happy with the way the Vuelta was going, sitting there at eight seconds or whatever it was. I was in a perfect position, but then an incredible, ridiculous chain of circumstances on the Monachil has put me out of that perfect position, to nearly two minutes back.

    "The thing that cost me was firstly the incompetence of the neutral service guys, and also the fact that the [television and photo] media and their motorbikes had blocked the road. That meant that it took a long time for my team to get up to me with a spare bike."

    Evans implied that, had the puncture happened at another point in the race, those problems would probably have been avoided. "I punctured near the top of the climb. I know it very well and also the descent. I knew it would be better to change it on a big...

  • Gesink, Mosquera being assessed after crash

    Ezequiel Mosquera (Xacobeo Galicia) talks to reporters about his stage 17 crash.
    Article published:
    September 16, 2009, 17:48 BST
    Shane Stokes

    Continued participation in Vuelta unknown at this point

    On the eve of the final two mountain stages of this year’s Vuelta a España, several of those in the top ten crashed on today’s race to Talavera de la Reina. 126 kilometres after the start in Ciudad Real, a large group went down, with approximately twenty to thirty riders being involved.

    Amongst those hitting the deck were second-placed Robert Gesink (Rabobank), sixth-placed Ezequiel Mosquera (Xacobeo Galicia) and Tom Danielson (Garmin-Slipstream), ninth overall. All were able to finish the stage and their injuries will be assessed this evening.

    Gesink suffered a large cut to his left knee. He spoke with Rabobank directeur sportif Erik Breukink immediately after the finish and both entered an ambulance which was parked beside the team bus. Neither commented at the time, but team spokesman Luuc Eisenga said afterwards that a decision will be taken later on about his continuation.

    "Robert is in hospital at the moment together with our team doctor and Eric Breukink. There we will see the seriousness of his injury, what treatment he needs and, finally, if he can stay in the race. It’s too soon to say, but obviously an injury like that needs to be evaluated."

    If he is forced to withdraw, it will be a big blow to the young Dutchman. He had to withdraw from the Tour de France this year due to a broken wrist, and told Cyclingnews before the stage start that his Vuelta performance had given him a lot of satisfaction.

    Mosquera was seen taking a replacement helmet during the stage and confirmed to reporters after the finish that he hit his head. "I don’t remember anything," he stated. "I was dizzy after the crash. The first thing I can remember is that my teammates were pushing me along."

    He has also gone to hospital for assessment and will also decide later if he will continue.

    Danielson was less affected by the incident, but said afterwards that he still doesn’t feel 100%...

  • Valverde, Freire and Sánchez lead Spain's Worlds team

    Alejandro Valverde will be one of Team Spain's leaders for Worlds, September 27
    Article published:
    September 16, 2009, 17:53 BST
    Gregor Brown

    Spain sends star-filled team to Mendrisio World Championships

    Spanish director José Luis De Santos announced today the nine-man national team for the World Championships in Mendrisio, Switzerland, September 27. Triple world champion Oscar Freire, Olympic champion Samuel Sánchez and current Vuelta leader Alejandro Valverde will lead the team.

    We need "cyclists who are not only in the form at the moment, but with very specific characteristics," said De Santos. "We will encounter a course in Mendrisio more complicated than recent years, with more climbing than Liège-Bastogne-Liège. And, over very complicated and narrow roads."

    Spain's road race team:
    • Oscar Freire (Rabobank)
    • Juan Manuel Gárate (Rabobank)
    • Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne)
    • Joaquím Rodríguez (Caisse d'Epargne)
    • Daniel Moreno (Caisse d'Epargne)
    • Samuel Sánchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi)
    • Juan José Cobo (Fuji-Servetto)
    • Carlos Barredo (Quick Step)
    • Rubén Plaza (Liberty Seguros)

    Valverde placed in the top three on three occasions at the World Championships. He was second at the 2005 Worlds in Madrid and 36th last year.

    This year's circuit in Mendrisio is shorter than last year's 17.35-kilometre circuit in Varese, Italy. It has two climbs, Acqua Fresca and Novazzano, in 13.8 kilometres. It's repeated 19 times at 262.2 kilometres and 4655 metres of climbing.

    "It is very selective and that is exactly what we like," Valverde told Cyclingnews.

    Spain's time trial team:
    • Iván Gutiérrez (Caisse d'Epargne)
    • Hector Guerra Garcia (Liberty Seguros)

    The time trial covers three 16.6-kilometre circuits for 49.8 kilometres. The 650-metre long Rancate climb is the main difficulty with sections of 10 percent.

    Tour de France winner Alberto Contador is the notable absence...

  • Gesink and Mosquera get all clear to continue

    Robert Gesink (Rabobank) was in a crash with 75km to go.
    Article published:
    September 16, 2009, 20:30 BST
    Shane Stokes

    Injured GC contenders will start Avila stage

    Crash victims Robert Gesink and Ezquiel Mosquera have been given the green light to start Thursday's 18th stage of the Vuelta a España, following medical assessment.

    Rabobank rider Gesink sustained injuries to his left knee, his elbow, back and buttock in the fall, which saw a large group of riders hit the deck 126 kilometres after the start. Xacobeo Galicia's leader Mosquera also came down in the same incident, suffering a blow to his head. He said after the stage that he couldn't remember the moment of the crash.

    The duo are second and sixth overall in the general classification, 31 seconds and one minute, 54 seconds back respectively from the maillot oro Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne).

    The Rabobank team stated on the website on Wednesday evening that the Spaniard had caused the mass crash when he hit a pothole.

    Team spokesman Luuc Eisenga initially said that Gesink and the team would not know if he could continue until after the hospital examination. However team doctor Gert Wielink later confirmed on the same website that he should be able to line up on Thursday.

    "In principle, he'll ride," he said. "But we cannot absolutely predict how it will go. He is rock-hard, like all cyclists, and he will need that character."

    Wielink said that Gesink will be given painkillers, and that he had two open wounds in his knee. "One was quite deep, and you could see the tendons. The other is quite superficial, but no less painful. He is missing skin there and the surrounding area is pretty sore."

    Mosquera was given the all clear to continue in the race, and will hope to be at full strength for the next two days which feature the last mountain stages in the race. A strong performance there is crucial if he is to chase a place on the podium.

    "I will continue in the Vuelta," he said to reporters on Wednesday evening. "I had a scan and it said that I have no serious injuries. I will get...

  • Redant admits Vuelta win is a long-shot

    Davitamon-Lotto team manager Hendrik Redant
    Article published:
    September 17, 2009, 10:00 BST
    Shane Stokes

    Silence-Lotto will sustain fight all the way to Madrid

    With four stages left in this year's Vuelta a España, Silence-Lotto director Hendrik Redant has admitted that it will be difficult for Cadel Evans to get back into contention in the race. When asked how the team will play things out in the days ahead, he said that he expected things to be tightly controlled by Alejandro Valverde's Caisse d'Epargne team, and that the time losses sustained by Evans so far would be hard to overcome.

    "There's not a lot of tactics for us to choose because I think the race is going to be a bit blocked. The three days where you could do something were in the area of Granada," he told Cyclingnews. "There are still a few hard stages to come, but I think the favourites there won't be dropped. Okay, there could be a real disaster for one of the [other] general classification riders, but normally you would expect that everything will come down to the time trial."

    Evans was sitting second overall and looked poised to strike, but then lost considerable time on Saturday's stage to Sierra Nevada. He punctured on the penultimate Monachil climb and had an extremely slow wheel change, then finally got a spare bike. However he was unable to return to the group of other race favourites and that, plus a penalty for taking a water bottle, cost him more than a minute.

    He conceded another 18 seconds on Sunday's stage to La Pandera and is now nearly two minutes back. Evans is a strong time trialist, but Valverde has improved his own ability against the clock and finished just behind him in the Valencia time trial.

    "One minute 50 seconds is a lot, of course, especially when you see that Cadel only gained three seconds [on Valverde] in the first time trial over 30 kilometres. I hope it is going to be more, he should be able to get some time back, but 1:50 is a lot. The the podium is possible, I think."

    However, Redant hasn't given up all hope. "Let's hope he can still do it. Everything is still...