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First Edition Cycling News, Thursday, September 8, 2011

Date published:
September 08, 2011, 1:00 BST
  • Bernaudeau on the hunt for leader for Europcar

    Jean-Rene Bernaudeau can't imagine the Tour de France without his team
    Article published:
    September 07, 2011, 15:45 BST
    Cycling News

    Priority is to recruit foreign rider

    In spite of the stirring displays of Thomas Voeckler and Pierre Rolland at the Tour de France, Europcar manager Jean-René Bernaudeau has been looking for an additional leader for his team in 2012.

    “We want to find a leader,” Bernaudeau told L’Équipe. “Not in the sense of a charismatic leader like Thomas Voeckler, but still, a rider who is capable of moving the team on, finishing off the work and winning the races in which we want to figure in the future.”

    Earlier in the summer, Bernaudeau spoke publicly of his desire to sign world champion Thor Hushovd and to bring Sylvain Chavanel back to the set-up where he began his career. Hushovd was snapped up by BMC, however, while Chavanel has opted to continue with Quick Step.

    “We really wanted to be able to attract Hushovd to our team,” Bernaudeau admitted. “He’s a very experienced rider, who would have been capable of bringing a new dimension to Team Europcar and allowing us to shine a little more in the classics like Paris-Roubaix or even the Tour of Flanders.

    “Hushovd joined BMC and Chavanel extended. They made their choice and we can’t do anything about that. We also have a certain budget and we can’t just recruit at any price. Our aim is to find riders who are capable of integrating into the team.”

    Registered as a Pro Continental squad in 2011, Bernaudeau feels that Europcar is worth a slot in the WorldTour for next season, but he pointed out that being part of cycling’s elite division wasn’t his sole aim.

    “The WorldTour isn’t an end in itself,...

  • Video: Froome enjoys his first big win at the Vuelta

    Christopher Froome (Sky) celebrates his Vuelta stage victory
    Article published:
    September 07, 2011, 19:27 BST
    Stephen Farrand

    Team Sky rider thought he had cracked Cobo

    Chris Froome (Team Sky) failed to distance Juan Jose Cobo (Geox-TMC) on the Peña Cabarga climb on stage 17 of the Vuelta a Espana but he was the hero of the day after his do-or-die attack in the final kilometre and deserved to take his first grand tour stage win.

    Froome thought he'd cracked Cobo at one point but the Spaniard came back up to him to hold onto his red race leader's jersey.

    "It was close. I thought I had him there for a second but he came back on me," Froome said.

    "I thought I'd got him off but then I saw a shadow hovering around me in the last 100 metres or so. But I didn’t hold anything back so I've no regrets. The team has done a fantastic job in the last two and half weeks and we can't be happier."

    Froome won a stage at the Giro del Capo in 2009 while riding for Barloworld but considers his Vuelta stage win as his first major professional victory. His father and brother were at the summit finish to see him win.

    "I'm really happy to win my first race. It's a special day," he said.

    "It's always been my dream to ride a Grand Tour and go for the general classification. I just didn’t think it'd happen so soon. It's a dream come true."

    He revealed that Team Sky studied the video footage of the same finish form last year's Vuelta, won by Joaquin Rodriguez (Katusha). Seeing the steepness of the final kilometre made him wait before launching his one big attack.

    "It was quite an eventful last two kilometres…" he said. "We watched the finish from last year and so we knew the last kilometre was very decisive, when either someone’s going to be on their limit or try and make difference."

    "With 800 metres to go, I tried to jump, got an initial gap and...

  • Cobo digs deep to hold onto Vuelta lead

    Cobo made it back up to Froome and challenged for the stage win
    Article published:
    September 07, 2011, 20:31 BST
    Stephen Farrand

    Cantabrian regrets not studying the climb to the finish

    Juan Jose Cobo (Geox-TMC) lives just 30km from the summit finish in Peña Cabarga but admitted that not studying the climb before the race almost cost him the lead in the Vuelta a España.

    Chris Froome (Team Sky) managed to gap the Spaniard during the very steep final kilometre of the Vuelta's 17th stage and Cobo almost cracked. Somehow he dug deep, was encouraged to fight back by the emotional local cycling fans, and managed to close the gap on the Kenyan-born Briton. Froome went on to win the stage and Cobo finished in second place, one second behind him.

    "I seriously thought I'd lost the Vuelta," Cobo said afterward. "I live close by but I made a big mistake by not coming to check out the finish of this stage beforehand.

    "Froome's attack was really strong and when he went, I wasn't able to follow him. I couldn't go on and so decided to ease up a little and recover. I managed to gradually pull him back and get on his wheel."

    Fans of the Bison

    Hundred of Cobo fans traveled from his home town of Cabezón de la Sal, Cantabria, to cheer him on, many dressed as bison or 'Bisonte', the nickname given to the Geox-TMC rider because of his stocky but strong build.

    "If it hadn't been for all this support, I'd have lost the lead for sure," Cobo said, reinforcing his status as a national, or at least Cantabrian hero, at the 2011 Vuelta.

  • Q & A: GreenEdge financier Gerry Ryan

    The man with the cash behind GreenEdge, Gerry Ryan
    Article published:
    September 07, 2011, 21:18 BST
    Jane Aubrey

    Sponsors, motivations building a team with longevity

    Financial security is increasingly hard to come by in professional cycling and it took one of Australia's wealthiest men, Gerry Ryan, to bankroll the GreenEdge project which will find out in November if it will be a part of the ProTour in 2012.

    Ryan is the man behind Jayco Caravans, Global Creatures which is the production company of Walking With Dinosaurs, and part-owner of 2010 Melbourne Cup winner Americain and is reported to be worth A$180 million. He spoke to Cyclingnews about his involvement with GreenEdge.

    Cyclingnews: Are you happy with how everything has so far unfolded with the GreenEdge bid?

    Ryan: I am. In terms of when we set out and sat down and looked at the vision for the team and put a business plan into place. First of all we had to get the right management team to run it. Shayne has been going along and recruiting Neil Stephens and others along the way, there's more to be announced in the next month. The team's in place, some of them are still employed with other organisations and are required to complete their time there. So we've got management in place, all of our riders are signed up – we're just allowing others to finish their races with their teams and we're due to head into a training camp in October.

    Cyclingnews: What are your motivations for getting involved in the sport at this level of investment given your past backing of races and teams in Australia?

    Ryan: I've been involved in cycling for 20 years and in terms of sponsorship, it's a natural progression for Australia to have an Australian team – which has probably been a dream for a lot of Australians including Shayne Bannan and Charlie Walsh and I could rattle off another half a dozen or at least 100 names. It's just circumstances and time that Shayne and I came together and we thought that it was right...

  • Riccò hearing set for September 14

    Riccardo Riccò (Meridiana-Kamen)
    Article published:
    September 07, 2011, 23:20 BST
    Cycling News

    Defense requests meeting with CONI anti-doping prosecutor

    At the request of his defense team, Riccardo Riccò will have a hearing with the anti-doping prosecutor of the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) on September 14 to discuss the conclusion of the investigation into the rider's alleged botched blood transfusion.

    Riccò is facing a life ban from the sport in addition to a three-year prison sentence for his second doping offense.

    As reported on Monday, an investigation into Riccò's sudden kidney failure in February concluded that the near-fatal illness was caused by an attempted blood transfusion.

    Earlier this year reports stated that Riccò admitted upon arrival at the hospital to self-administering a blood transfusion, but he later denied having made these statements, asserting that he was unconscious when he arrived.

    However, his medical records stated that Riccò was conscious when he was admitted, and medical experts agreed upon examining the records that the Italian's illness showed hallmarks of an infection caused by the infusion of improperly stored blood.

    If Riccò is found guilty of violating the World Anti-Doping Agency's code, which prohibits blood transfusions, it would be his second anti-doping violation after his 2008 positive for the blood boosting hormone CERA.

    He is currently under provisional suspension and has thus been unable to race for the Meridiana-Kamen team, which hired him in June.

  • Euskaltel-Euskadi riders caught in training crash in Quebec

    Miguel Minguez was first to attack second time up the climb.
    Article published:
    September 08, 2011, 4:29 BST
    Cycling News

    Miguel Mínguez's participation now in doubt

    Something about Canadian roads and riders from the Euskaltel-Euskadi team just don’t seem to mix. For the second year running several riders from the team have been involved in a crash while out training for the upcoming Grand Prix Cycliste de Quebec, according to a report in Het Nieuwsblad. Six riders went down, including team captain Samuel Sanchez, who was at a loss to explain the incident.

    "A rider, lost concentration, must’ve touched a wheel, and went down," said Sanchez at the team hotel in Quebec. "I think it caught us off guard because [suddenly everyone] else was down. It’s [obviously] a really poor outcome of the training session."

    Though the team has released no official information, Miguel Mínguez is reported to have been the most seriously injured and his participation for the September 9 race is now in doubt.

    "Last year there were eight riders who went to the ground, this time there with six, it’s not ideal," said Sanchez. "Unfortunately [Mínguez] went down hardest and I would say he is unlikely to start on Friday."

    The Grand Prix Cycliste de Quebec is the first of two WorldTour races taking place in Canada over the weekend, taking riders around a hilly 201.6 kilometre route around Quebec City.

  • Dan Martin satisfied with fourth after aggressive ride at the Vuelta

    Marzio Bruseghin on the attack with Dan Martin.
    Article published:
    September 08, 2011, 5:49 BST
    Stephen Farrand

    Irishman enjoyed going on the attack on Peña Cabarga

    Dan Martin (Garmin-Cervélo) again went on the attack on the mountain finish at Peña Cabarga as he chased a second stage win at the Vuelta a España.

    This time his move did not come off and he was caught midway up the climb concluding the 17th stage. However, he had the legs to stay close to Chris Froome (Team Sky) and Juan Jose Cobo (Geox-TMC) and finished fourth at 24 seconds.

    As he waited to be called into anti-doping, Martin admitted he had initially felt disappointed with the result but quickly began to see the positive aspects of his performance.

    "When I first finished I thought I'd made an error in attacking so early but in hindsight, with how Cobo and Froome are going, I knew I had to at least try and beat them," he told Cyclingnews.

    "Fourth on the stage is a good result. If I hadn't attacked, I might have finished third but that's no real big difference. I tried to win the stage and that's the important thing.

    "I had good legs all day and the team did a great job protecting me. I was confident I could do something and I'm glad I did. What a beautiful climb. It was stunning. I enjoyed racing up that."

    Fourteen overall

    Martin moved up to 14th overall and is now 7:22 behind Cobo. He confessed he is not really interested in a good GC placing in Madrid. But he does want to try and win more stages before the end of the Vuelta on Sunday.

    "For now Grand Tours are about winning stages for me. I've got one and tried hard today," he said. "Unfortunately we're running out of options and there are no more real mountain...

  • Bruyneel and Becca speak out on new team

    Team manager Johan Bruyneel has finalized Radioshack's 2010 roster.
    Article published:
    September 08, 2011, 10:06 BST
    Susan Westemeyer

    UCI and sponsor surprised, personnel comment on future

    Johan Bruyneel is looking forward to helping Andy Schleck win the Tour de France. The Belgian said that will be one of his main goals at RadioShack-Nissan-Trek in the coming season, while admitting that the team is having some growing pains at the moment.

    It was announced earlier this week that RadioShack and Leopard Trek will join forces to ride as one team next season.

    He  “very much looks forward” to working not only with current RadioShack riders but also with current Leopard riders, including Fabian Cancellara, Fränk Schleck, Jakob Fuglsang, Maxime Monfort and Daniele Bennati, Bruyneel wrote on his website.

    The biggest challenge, however, would seem to be Andy Schleck, “obviously one of the most talented riders in cycling and it is my goal to help him achieve the goal of winning the Tour de France. As with every rider, there are always improvements to be made and I think with these adjustments and the team we will put together, Andy will have his best chance yet of standing on the top step in Paris.”

    The final details of the structure of the new team are still being worked out, and Bruyneel acknowledged that “the information (sometimes not completely accurate) finds its way into the press, which has caused us to announce this new venture a bit earlier than we originally planned.” The final team roster will be announced by September 15.

    UCI apparently not informed

    The International Cycling Union issued a stiffly-worded announcement Wednesday evening concerning the new 2012 team, and indicated that it had not been informed beforehand of the changes. The UCI said that it “is aware of the information published in the media concerning the project”, and added that “the UCI has also...