Updated: Sponsors unite to create Belgian super team
Omega Pharma and Quick Step will join forces to create a single team in 2012, the two Belgian companies announced on Monday, ending months of speculation about their future involvement in the sport.
Both are currently first name sponsors of their own teams but will join forces to create a new Belgian super team in 2012.
"With this agreement, we continue to invest in a Belgian team, reinforced with international talent. As in previous years, our goal is to be one of the top teams in the WorldTour," Marc Coucke, CEO of Omega Pharma said in a joint press release.
Quick Step team manager Patrick Lefevere confirmed that the flooring manufacturer would be remain as a main sponsor, with Innergetic also renewing its support.
"We are very pleased with the deal we reached with Omega Pharma/BCC, as much as we are about Quick Step's renewal as co-sponsor and Innergetic as official partner. I would like to thank everyone involved for their professionalism during the negotiations,” Lefevere said.
Omega Pharma revealed it would end its links with the Belgian national lottery Lotto after the spring classics and had talks with six potential team and sponsors. Coucke has opted to tie his reported 4.5 million Euro budget with the Quick Step team rather than with other possible partners such as Vacansoleil, Highroad and Leopard Trek. The two sponsors worked together in 2003 and 2005 before Omega Pharma joined forces with Lotto.
Lefevere sold a majority stake in the team structure to Czech businessman Zdenek Bakala but has been working hard to secure the future of the team. Tom Boonen has resigned with the team for a further two seasons, with an option for a third year.
However the names of other riders who will be part...
The BMC team has announced that Tour de France winner Cadel Evans has extended his contract with the team through to 2014, while George Hincapie have signed a new contract that will see him continue to race in 2012, his 18th season as a professional.
The team also announced that Evans would close out his 2011 season in Colorado, where he will compete in the USA Pro Cycling Challenge. It will be the Australian's first race in the US since the 2006 Tour of California.
"I'm looking forward to competing in the U.S. in one more stage race before I close out what has been a dream season," Evans said. "I've heard good things about the race in Colorado and I know it won't be easy. But I'm up for one more challenge."
After winning the Tour, Tirreno-Adriatico and the Tour de Romandie and coming second in the Critérium du Dauphiné, Evans is the UCI's number one ranked rider, leading by 92 points over Belgian Philippe Gilbert.
Ending his season in August, Evans will not compete in the world championships in Copenhagen, according to BMC directeur sportif John Lelangue. "With the worlds in Copenhagen this year being more for sprinters, Cadel wasn't expecting to go to the worlds," Lelangue said.
BMC retains its veterans
The team confirmed that Evans and Hincapie will continue on with the team, with the American on for another year and Evans staying put through the next three seasons.
"Having these two return to the BMC Racing Team next year allows for our continued growth by having our two captains stay on board to provide leadership and mentoring to others in our organization," Team President and General Manager Ochowicz said in a statement from the team.
"In George's case, we need him to help the young guys like Taylor Phinney and Greg Van Avermaet keep developing. For everyone else, he creates leadership in the...
A dramatic crash in the finale of the Tour of Poland's second stage has ended the race for Italian Alessandro Ballan. The BMC rider was taken down in a mass pile-up inside the final three kilometers when the rider on the front of the peloton veered suddenly, taking down part of the BMC lead-out train and a dozen more riders.
Cyclingnews understands the BMC Team talked to the UCI commissaire regarding the incident. TV pictures show an Astana rider suddenly shifting to his right. "It was a domino effect", BMC directeur sportif Noel Dejonckheere said to Cyclingnews.
Danilo Wyss, who was directly behind the Astana rider, described the crash in a press release from the BMC team. "It was slightly downhill, so it was very fast," Wyss said. "He went right and I had to go right as well."
Alexander Kristoff, who took second on the opening stage on Sunday, was behind Wyss and was the first rider to go down in the incident, which also took out Ballan, Omega Pharma-Lotto rider Bart De Clerq and Blazej Janiakczyk (CCC Polsat Polkowice). The latter also pulled out of the race with broken ribs.
All three riders went to the hospital for examinations. X-rays to Ballan's knee did not show any fractures, but the BMC team doctor Scott Major confirmed the injury was too severe for the 2009 Tour of Poland winner to continue. "Alessandro has a deep abrasion and how soon he can come back depends on how well it will close."
Movistar’s Andrey Amador has been received by Costa Rican president Laura Chinchilla on his return to his home country following his recent debut appearance at the Tour de France. The 24-year-old was the first rider from Central America to start the Tour.
His profile soared at home as he battled a serious ankle injury sustained early in the opening week to complete the race in 166th place, just one position ahead of the lanterne rouge.
A large group fans welcomed the Movistar rider when he flew into San José airport last weekend. He went on to presidential residence in the Costa Rican capital, where he presented President Chinchilla with a Movistar team jersey.
“Andrey not only gave us plenty to get excited about from the moment that he announced his participation [in the Tour], but we were also able to follow his exploits throughout the race, where he had to face up to a very difficult test,” said President Chinchilla. “But Andrey showed determination, perseverance and fighting spirit and finally managed to finish the Tour de France.
“As Costa Ricans we feel immensely proud that we have been able to receive him and to tell him in the name of the whole country that we are happy to have him back because he is a real source of pride and a great example for many young people at a moment when we really him. We would like to see many more examples like Andrey in order to face up to the problems that are affecting our young people such as violence, drugs and criminality.”
In January this year, Amador was a victim of that criminality when he was attacked by a group of thugs during a training ride and left for dead at the side of the road. His Pinarello Dogma bike was stolen, while Amador...
Australian-German Heinrich Haussler has been off cycling's radar since the Tour of Switzerland six weeks ago. There were even rumours that he was back in Australia. That's not true: in this exclusive video interview, Garmin-Cervélo's finisseur tells Cyclingnews that he is focused on the world championships, and has been training in Germany with long, steady rides.
Haussler has had his sights on the rainbow jersey ever since he switched his nationality from Germany to Australia last year. Even though he has battled knee problems and a lack of results over the past year, he hopes to be part of the Australian national team in Copenhagen in September.
He is currently racing at the Tour of Poland to build form for Worlds, and is already seeing progress: he took fourth and second in the first two stages in the Tour of Poland. His next race will be the Vuelta a Espana where he aims to take a few stage victories, "to gain a bit of motivation" prior to the Worlds.
"The Classics were a big goal for me, but I didn't have the legs, I didn't have the form," Haussler said. He blamed a trip to altitude prior to Paris-Nice and a lack of racing since his knee problems in 2010.
"Last year I only had 26 days of racing," he explained, and revealed that he had decided not to race the Tour de France not only because of his lack of form, but because of his focus on the Worlds.
Haussler told Cyclingnews that he's not really satisfied about his first part of season, even though he took two stage victories in the Tour of...
Thomas Dekker is hoping to make up for his past mistakes when he lines up at the Tour of Portugal in the colours of the Chipotle team. The Dutchman will ride his first stage race since serving a two year suspension for taking EPO.
"I'm super excited to be back at a stage race again. Of course I'm also nervous and stressed, but in a good way," he told Cyclingnews.
"I just want to finish the race good. The Tour of Portugal is a super hard race, I will suffer for sure. But that's good. I want to make steps in my race condition and I want to enjoy being back racing on such a level. For the rest I just take it how it comes."
According to Dekker there was only one team that has wanted to join since beginning his rehabilitation, although it must be stressed that even though he will ride for Chipotle in Portugal, it is only a small step towards finding a possible slot on Chipotle's senior team, Garmin-Cervélo.
"Since January 2010 I have always had the goal to make a comeback with Jonathan Vaughters' team. I am not there yet, but I am on the right path. It's a long path, with tests, commitments and now a place in their 'second team'. I learned from my mistakes, coming back with the clean team will be the ultimate victory for myself and the perfect fit from rider perspective. Other teams informed, there was interest. But we never turned it into something concrete, because I have chosen to try to make my comeback under Vaughters' wing. I follow the difficult path, but I feel I need to do that for my future as rider, but also as a person."
The Belgian has a 92-point deficit on Tour de France champion Cadel Evans (BMC), but with the Australian ending his season with the USA Pro Cycling Challenge which is not on the WorldTour, Gilbert still has time to make up ground. He has only 11 points over Alberto Contador (Saxo Bank).
Leopard Trek remains the sport's top team, while Spain continues to lead the country rankings.
Matthew Busche (RadioShack), currently riding the Tour de Pologne, is looking forward to his Grand Tour debut at the Vuelta a Espana. Busche took the first win of his professional career at the US road championships in May, and feels that he has progressed significantly as a rider over the last six months.
"I don't know if I'm any stronger this year, but I think the experience [having ridden a year already] makes a big difference even just riding in the bunch," Busche said to Cyclingnews. "I feel like I can navigate the race a bit more which helps a lot."
The 26-year-old finished 36th overall in the recent Tour of Austria and hopes to prove his form ahead of debuting in Spain.
"I hope I get to do the Vuelta this year, that would be a big goal, a big dream for me," he said.
"I think I have the potential to do better in the sport, but there's still a long way to go in terms of learning mentally, physically and simply gaining more experience."