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First Edition Cycling News, Thursday, September 23, 2010

Date published:
September 23, 2010, 13:00
  • Cipollini questions the strength of Italian team

    It wasn't until 2003 that Mario Cipollini beat
    Article published:
    September 22, 2010, 17:42
    By:
    Stephen Farrand

    2002 world champion picks Freire, Gilbert and Cavendish as favourites

    Mario Cipollini has questioned the strength and form of the Italian team for the world championships, suggesting that new Italian coach Paolo Bettini has opted to select riders he knows and trusts rather than riders who are on form.

    Cipollini won the world title in Zolder in 2002, beating Robbie McEwen and Erik Zabel, and still considers it one of the best moments of his extraordinary 17-year career as a professional.

    "The world championships is a very special race but I'm not sure if Italy has a good chance of winning this year," he told Cyclingnews.

    "I'm not criticising Bettini because I think he's a good national coach and the right person to take Franco Ballerini's place. But looking at the riders he's chosen for the Italian team, they seem to be people he knows really well, rather than riders who are on form and best suited to the course in Melbourne.

    "The Italian cycling team looks like the Italian football team Marcello Lippi selected for the World Cup in South Africa. He went for the older players and avoided the younger players who could have caused him some problems. But because of that Italy had a poor World Cup.

    "I just hope it doesn't end up the same way in Australia. I'm not sure if Marzio Bruseghin is fit enough this year to ride on the front for three laps like he's done in the past.

    "He could be the Fabio Cannavaro of the Italian team, who had a nightmare World Cup because he wasn't competitive. And what has Andrea Tonti done this year? He's a nice lad but is he one of the strongest riders we've got? I don’t think so.

    "Paolo seems to have gone for the easy option, while in the past Alfredo Martini managed to get the likes of Francesco Moser and Beppe Saronni to work together and win the world title."

    Cipollini says he would have selected Liquigas-Doimo sprinter Daniele Bennati in case the race ends in a sprint. He named Philippe Gilbert, Oscar Freire and Mark Cavendish as his favourites to win the rainbow jersey.

    "Nobody really knows what the course will be like. I've heard that it will be as hard as the Tour of Flanders but the world championships is always a pretty controlled race," he said.

    "I'm sure Mark Cavendish is going there thinking he can win it and so Bettini should have selected a sprinter too. Daniele Bennati seemed on form at the Vuelta, so he should have been included in the Italian team.

    "I hope [Filippo] Pozzato, [Giovanni] Visconti or [Vincenzo] Nibali can step up and win but I'd put money on either Freire or Gilbert pulling on the rainbow jersey. Freire was hiding at the Vuelta but he's at his most dangerous when he's hiding because it means he's working on his form and serious about his big objective. Gilbert looks good and has proved he knows how to win big races by going on the attack and in a sprint."

    Cipollini retired in 2005 before making a comeback with the controversial Rock Racing team in 2008. He rode the Tour of California but retired again when team owner Michael Ball refused to back his plans for a European-based team.

    Cipollini has since begun to produce his own line of MCipollini bikes and will continue to supply bikes to the ISD-Neri team in 2011 captained by Italian national champion Giovanni Visconti. He has also created a line of clothing that was recently on show at Eurobike.

  • Phinney explains decision to sign with BMC Racing Team

    The top three for the TT: Levi Leipheimer, Taylor Phinney and Bernard Van Ulden.
    Article published:
    September 22, 2010, 18:06
    By:
    Daniel Benson

    Reveals strained relationship with Lance Armstrong

    With his move to BMC Racing Team confirmed today, Taylor Phinney is looking forward to a new chapter in his young but already prestigious career. The 20-year-old penned a multiple year contract with the American Professional Continental team despite offers from Lance Armstrong's RadioShack, the new Schleck team and Garmin-Transitions.

    Speaking ahead of his press conference today, Phinney told Cyclingnews that his move was motivated by longevity of his contract and security - two things that RadioShack, who currently has just one year left in the sport, could not guarantee.

    "Jim Ochowicz flew out to Boulder to meet with me. He's a close family friend and has been around my life since I can remember and if we were ever going to entertain any kind of offer it was going to be from him," Phinney told Cyclingnews.

    "He came over to the house and blew us away. Not in terms of money but from a career standpoint. It all made a lot of sense. But once Jim opened that door it gave a lot of teams the opportunity to jump in and come in with offers. Then we had to riffle through everything and it was a stressful time. There was interest from the Schleck team and Garmin, who I worked with too and they wanted me back in Argyle."

    With pressure mounting on Phinney to make a decision he headed for last week's US professional national championships in Greenville, South Carolina where he stayed with future teammate and defending US road champion George Hincapie.

    "I stayed with George at his house and just inside, for me it felt like that right choice. The riders they have on that team, it's just getting better and better and I'm looking forward to that process," Phinney said.

    "The main thing for the Olympics is that I need to be riding the same bike for the next two years and with RadioShack only able to offer me a one year deal it made sense because BMC could offer me that security and great bike for the track."

    Despite his excitement for the future, Phinney is sad to be leaving behind the relationships he made at Trek-Livestrong over the last two years, including his friendship with Armstrong, who Phinney revealed, had broken off all communication ever since Ochowicz made his first offer.

    "I formed some really good bonds at Trek-Livestrong with the team and Lance and the riders - they were my family.

    "However, we had a chat with Lance, Bart Knaggs and Johan [Bruyneel] just to let them know that Jim had put in an offer and Lance had to leave half way because I think Senator Kerry was on the other line. I've tried to call, email and text and I've not really heard anything. I've talked to Bart Knaggs, who is at CSE (Capital Sports & Entertainment), and I'm sad that I've had to leave but I think they understand where I'm coming from. I think if Lance was in the same situation that I was in he would have done the same thing. That makes me feel more comfortable but it's not all smiles and laughs.

    "But I want everyone to know that my time on the team was great and last weekend at Nationals was one of the highlights of my career so I'll look back on the last two years with a lot of fondness and I'm looking forward to create a new chapter in my life."

  • Freire faces record fourth world title

    Oscar Freire (Rabobank)
    Article published:
    September 23, 2010, 05:07
    By:
    Cycling News

    Spanish veteran tipped as a favourite for Geelong

    The odds on experienced Spaniard Oscar Freire adding another title to his three road world championships have shortened in recent days as the likes of former world champions Paolo Bettini and Mario Cipollini are tipping him as a favourite.

    And the significance of that isn't lost on the 34-year-old Rabobank rider.

    "The record must be in my legs not just in my head, although, in principle, I have the opportunity to enter history," Freire told Spanish news agency Europa Press after the team was presented in Madrid before heading to Australia for the world championships.

    "I am the only one who can do it now. It would be disappointing if I didn't. I have had a great career as a cyclist and a fourth world championship would be no thorn. Winning three is important, but four is the best."

    Freire was originally slated as one of the names to watch for the title when the course was announced, in addition to riders such as the Spaniard's old sparring partner, Robbie McEwen. Several months ago, however, the talk of a sprinter prevailing changed to that of the Ardennes Classics riders, such as Philippe Gilbert and reigning world champion Cadel Evans.

    The three-time Milan-San Remo winner isn't getting carried away with talk of what type of rider the winner could be, preferring to focus on the course from his own perspective. "Some say it is very hard and others [say] that it will be easy. I must await the passage of the race to value and see how it goes. But what is certain is that it will not be easy," he explained.

    Whilst he's feeling confident in his form now, Freire's preparation throughout 2010 hasn't been ideal; sinus problems that required surgery put a dampener on his Tour de France and Vuelta a España and he didn't perform to his potential in either. With that issue ironed out, he could focus on what he does best - winning.

    "Although the Tour was not right due to sinusitis and at La Vuelta I wasn't quite right after the operation, I've achieved six wins and the Milan-San Remo, between them. I just hope to regain the level of the first part of the [2010] campaign," he added.

    It wasn't that easy however, and Freire had to trust in his body's ability to recover from the hard effort of the Vuelta. "In La Vuelta I knew it would be difficult because of the heat and travel. I thought I would be better [than I was], but I couldn't [do it]. So when I retired after Cotobello, I rested for three days and my form came to me very well. Then I noticed it was much better," he said.

    His preparation work isn't finished though, and Freire explained that there's last minute adjustments to make, including to a time zone far from that to which he's accustomed. "I've trained very well these past days and now, once you travel, it will take some special training because we have many more days ahead," he said.

  • Tech news: Garmin acquires Metrigear

    The MetriGear Vector power meter design is among the tidiest and easiest to move across multiple bikes that we've seen - plus it's superlight.
    Article published:
    September 23, 2010, 06:19
    By:
    Cycling News

    Vector power meter may finally become reality

    GPS powerhouse Garmin has announced the outright purchase of MetriGear, inventor of the highly promising pedal-based Vector power meter first seen at last year's Interbike show.

    Unfortunately, the subsequent release of the Vector has been repeatedly postponed from the original target date supposedly due to various development delays but this latest move provides much more confidence that the clever power meter will actually see the light of day - and probably relatively soon.

    Even as of last year, the hardware in the MetriGear Vector - all housed inside a Speedplay pedal spindle - was impressively finished-looking and company representatives told us several times that they only had some software and firmware issues to iron out before the product was ready.

    The last company communiqué before the acquisition suggests that most, if not all, of that work is completed and given the ready ANT+ compatibility with Garmin's range of GPS-enabled cycling computers, a complete package probably isn't far off.

    "From the start, our vision has been to deliver an easy-to-own cycling power meter with unique capabilities," said MetriGear CEO Clark Foy in a press release. "Garmin's world-class engineering, wireless, manufacturing expertise and their ability to deliver an end-to-end solution from sensors to displays will be instrumental in realising this vision.

    "We can't imagine a more capable partner to bring Vector to market, and we are absolutely thrilled to join the Garmin team."

    We'll post more concrete information once it becomes available but in the meantime, this is very good news for consumers who have been eagerly awaiting the Vector's release - stay tuned.

  • Di Luca judgement date set

    Danilo Di Luca asks to keep the waves calm
    Article published:
    September 23, 2010, 09:06
    By:
    Cycling News

    Italian may be handed reduced sentence for cooperating with authorities

    The Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) has set the date for a final judgement on the doping case involving Danilo Di Luca on October 15. The Italian, who finished second overall in last year's Giro d'Italia, returned two positive anti-doping controls for EPO-CERA during the race.

    The positive results were announced in July 2009, and the B samples confirmed positive in early August by the Châtenay-Malabry laboratory in Paris. While Di Luca has maintained his innocence in public and appealed his initial two-year ban, the Gazzetta dello Sport reports that according to unconfirmed sources, Di Luca may have collaborated with anti-doping authorities in recent months, providing them with "interesting information useful to revenue tax officers and Italian doping police NAS."

    On the basis of the international anti-doping code, this cooperation could get him a reduced ban and even see him back in the peloton as soon as January 2011, Gazzetta claims. According to the paper, the Italian has even already had contacts with various teams, including the newly-found Geox outfit.

    Di Luca is thought to defend his innocence by questioning the analysis methods used in the French Châtenay-Malabry laboratory. His racing ban ends July 21, 2011.
     

  • Bbox future hanging in the balance

    The Bbox Bouygues Telecom squad
    Article published:
    September 23, 2010, 09:25
    By:
    Barry Ryan

    Bernaudeau rates chances of survival at "6 out of 10"

    Jean-René Bernaudeau has rated his Bbox Bouygues Telecom team’s chances of survival at “6 out of 10” and announced that he will make a definitive announcement on the team’s future at the Tour de Vendée on Sunday.

    Bernaudeau has been in negotiations with potential sponsors throughout the season but failed to land a backer for 2011.

    “I have only one possibility left, and I’m awaiting a response” Bernaudeau told L’Équipe. “Between now and Friday evening it should be decided.”

    According to reports in Ouest France, talks with oil company Total ultimately came to nothing and Bernaudeau’s team’s fate is in the hands of a banking group, which will make a decision on whether or not to sponsor the team at the end of this week.

    “A team of our size can only survive thanks to sponsorship,” Bernaudeau said. “We have just had a great season, but everything rests on negotiations, on a vote in a boardroom. We live at the whim of advertising budgets, you have to seduce or die.”

    Bernaudeau will make an announcement regarding his team’s future at the weekend. “I would say our chances of survival are 6 out of 10. We will tell everybody on Sunday at the Tour de Vendée, in our own backyard, which will welcome the start of the Tour next year,” he said. “That would be very sad and surreal.”

    Meanwhile, team leader Thomas Voeckler confessed his concerns to Ouest France. “We couldn’t have done any better this season. I don’t understand why the decision is so delayed and I’m worried,” Voeckler said. “I’m finding it hard to sleep. I’ve always had confidence in Jean-René and I’ve always said that I would stay with him if the team continues.”

  • Bennati to Luxembourg team for two years

    Stage runner-up Daniele Bennati (Liquigas - Doimo)
    Article published:
    September 23, 2010, 10:39
    By:
    Cycling News

    Italian sprinter leaves Liquigas

    Daniele Bennati will ride for the Luxembourg team featuring the Schleck brothers, he has announced on his Twitter site. He has signed a two-year contract. 

    The Italian, who turns 30 on Friday, has been with Team Liquigas since 2008. This year he won the second stage of the Tour of Oman and the third stage of Tirreno-Adriatico. The sprinter most recently rode the Vuelta a España, where he brought in second-place and third-place stage finishes.

    The Luxembourg team is being directed by Brian Nyborg and Kim Andersen, formerly of Team Saxo Bank. Andy and Fränk Schleck are joining their home-country team, as are a number of their former teammates from the Danish team. The new team has not yet announced its roster, name or sponsors.

    Bennati turned pro in 2002 with Acqua & Sapone, where he helped prepare sprints for Mario Cipollini. In 2004 he joined Phonak but missed much of the year due to a virus. From 2005 to 2007 he rode for Lampre, where he finally became a top sprinter, moving to Liquigas in 2008.

    He has won two stages at the Tour de France, four stages and the points classification (2007) in the Vuelta a Espana, and three stags and the points classification (2008) at the Giro d'Italia. He has also won the points jersey at the Tour de Suisse (2006, 2007), Deutschland Tour (2005), Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana (2007) and the Tour de Romandie (2008).
     

  • Abbott signs for Safi-Pasta Zara-Manhattan

    The 2010 Giro Donne winner - Mara Abbott (United States) waits to receive her ultimate maglia rosa.
    Article published:
    September 23, 2010, 11:13
    By:
    Barry Ryan

    More American riders anticipated at Italian team

    Mara Abbott has signed for the Safi-Pasta Zara-Manhattan team for 2011. Abbott rode for Peanut Butter & Co TWENTY12 this season. She took overall victory at the Giro Donne in July and followed that up with the US national championship in August.

    “Mara exploded this year at the Giro d’Italia when she opened big gaps in the mountains, but we had already been watching her for some time,” said Safi-Pasta Zara-Manhattan manager Maurizio Fabretto. “She’s one of the strongest athletes in the world and still has significant margin for improvement given that she’s only 24 years old.”

    Abbott had been linked with a move to the Garmin-Cervélo team for 2011 after Jonathan Vaughters expressed his admiration for his fellow Coloradan’s achievements, but she has opted to move to Italy. Her new manager hinted that she would not be the last American to sign for his team ahead of 2011.

    “In the United States there’s currently a winning generation of girls,” Fabretto explained. “I can’t hide the fact that others could join Abbott here. Some of our sponsors are supporting this operation as they have important commercial interests in the United States, a country in which women’s cycling has a big following.”

    Abbot has delivered some of best performances on Italian roads in recent seasons. She sealed her victory in the Giro Donne with spectacular back-to-back mountain stage wins at Livigno and atop the Stelvio and she was second overall in the event in 2009. She also impressed at the 2008 Giro del Trentino and Giro di Toscana.

    The Safi-Pasta Zara-Manhattan squad will compete both in Europe and the United States next season and ambitions for the team are high. “Our transfer campaign has just begun,” Fabretto said. “We have some riders in our sights, among them a high-profile Italian to complement Eleonora Patuzzo, who is getting stronger.”

    Abbott will not participate in the world championships in Australia. She was forced to rule herself out of the USA selection due to illness.