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First Edition Cycling News, Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Date published:
August 23, 2011, 1:00 BST
  • USA Pro Cycling Challenge time trial start order

    Levi Leipheimer (Radioshack) coming by at only 6" down on first place.
    Article published:
    August 22, 2011, 12:45 BST
    Cycling News

    Zabriskie, Leipheimer and Evans last off in Colorado

    The USA Pro Cycling Challenge begins on Monday with the opening prologue in Colorado Springs. At 8.2km, the route is a little longer than a traditional prologue and there may well be some significant time gaps at the end of the day.

    The first rider to roll down the start ramp will be Team Exergy's Carlos Alzate, who is scheduled to start at 1:15pm Colorado time. Riders will then leave at one minute intervals until the final ten. Riders starting after 3:14pm will leave every two minutes, with Tour de France winner Cadel Evans (BMC) the last man off.

    In the early session, look for riders like Christian Vande Velde (Garmin-Cervelo), Patrick Gretsch (HTC-Highroad), Peter Velits (HTC-Highroad) and George Hincapie (BMC) to set the bar high. The day's winner however is likely to come from a rider in the final 10.

    Former world and Olympic time trial silver medalist Gustav Larsson (Saxo Bank-Sungard) will be hungry to build on the form he showed at the Tour of Denmark where he was second in the time trial won by Richie Porte. While Tejay Van Garderen (HTC-Highroad) starting fifth from last, is coming off victory in the Utah time trial and has spent nearly a week acclimating in Colorado which can only help his cause.

    Leaving the best to last, the day ends with hit out between two of the sports best time trialists. Levi Leipheimer (RadioShack) and Cadel Evans (BMC) roll out at 3:32pm and 3:34pm...

  • Rast to ride for Leopard Trek in 2012

    Grégory Rast (RadioShack)
    Article published:
    August 22, 2011, 14:50 BST
    Stephen Farrand

    Swiss rider to boost Classics line-up and help Cancellara

    The Leopard Trek team has confirmed that Grégory Rast will join the team for 2012 and 2013, further boosting its squad for the cobbled Classics.

    The 31-year-old is a former two-time Swiss national time trial champion and finished fourth in this year’s Paris-Roubaix. He is expected to provide key support to Fabian Cancellara in the spring classics after the Luxembourg-based team lost Australian veteran Stuart O’Grady to the new GreenEdge team. Rast has ridden for RadioShack for the last two years. He started his professional career with Phonak in 2003.

    "It's great to be able to commit my future to Leopard Trek,” Rast said in a statement from his future team.

    “I’m really proud that a big and strong team like Leopard Trek showed an interest in me. This team has some of the greatest stage racers in the world, the Schleck brothers, and with Fabian Cancellara, they have the best classic rider of the last five years. This team is really strong on every terrain.”

    “The Tour of Flanders is my all-time favourite race. Over the years, I have also learned to love Paris-Roubaix. I’m really looking forward to racing alongside Fabian, who I’ve known since we were both juniors. I’m hoping to support him towards success in those races.”

    Team manager Kim Andersen is convinced that Rast will provide valuable power and support next season.

    “Grégory is a strong and stable rider that will fit in perfectly well with the team,” he said. “He has proven to be one of those riders that love to ride races like Paris-Roubaix and the Tour of Flanders. Grégory has a big engine and he will be a worthy support rider to Fabian Cancellara in the cobblestone Classics.”

    Leopard Trek previously revealed it...

  • Tour de France stars tip Colombians for success in Colorado

    Tom Danielson (Garmin-Cervelo) had a fierce battle with Gobernacion
    Article published:
    August 22, 2011, 15:48 BST
    Peter Hymas

    Gobernacion de Antioquia and EPM-UNE favoured at high altitude

    While five of the top-10 finishers of the 2011 Tour de France are poised to start the inaugural USA Pro Cycling Challenge on Monday, including the top three of Cadel Evans (BMC), Andy Schleck (Leopard Trek) and Fränk Schleck (Leopard Trek), the highly touted ProTour riders pointed to the Colombians of UCI Continental squads Gobernacion de Antioquia and EPM-UNE at Sunday's pre-race press conference as the riders expected to excel.

    Tom Danielson (Garmin-Cervelo), who finished ninth in the Tour, is the only top-10 Tour finisher to already face the Colombian onslaught in the recently concluded Tour of Utah. Gobernacion de Antioquia won three stages, two by Sergio Henao, who also finished second overall to Levi Leipheimer (RadioShack). Danielson finished fifth overall in Utah, 3:49 down on Leipheimer and 3:26 down on Henao.

    Sergio Henao, who's bound for Team Sky in 2012, lives at 2,000m elevation in Colombia, an elevation rarely tackled in the high mountains of European races, and feels at home in the rarified air.

    EPM-UNE did not compete in the Tour of Utah, but the Colombian squad is expected to excel as well in Colorado with multiple climbs exceeding 12,000 feet in elevation.

    "I don't know [Gobernacion de Antioquia], I knew Sevilla before the race but I didn't know the other guys and they were super, super-strong," said Danielson. "First off, I expect chaos from them. If they're in the leader's jersey they probably won't ride, they'll just attack anyway, and if they're not in the leader's jersey they're going to attack.

    "Fortunately in this race there's a lot of really strong teams that will ride. Unfortunately for Levi last week it was really up to his team so basically it was those guys versus his team and that's what really made the race so difficult for Levi to win.

    "In order to beat those guys we're going to have to be attentive on...

  • Gilbert speaks about his move to BMC

    Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma Lotto) celebrates victory
    Article published:
    August 22, 2011, 18:33 BST
    Cycling News

    Belgian champion hits out at his critics

    Following the confirmation of his move to BMC for 2012, Philippe Gilbert has spoken about the reasons why he preferred to join the sports latest super team instead of staying with a Belgian team.

    Holding little back, Gilbert gave two reasons for his decision: less pressure to repeat his amazing 2011 season than at the new Omega Pharma-Quick Step team and a better, more professional atmosphere at BMC alongside Thor Hushovd, Cadel Evans and Taylor Phinney.

    “I’ve chosen the best team in the world”, Gilbert told the Belgian Le Soir newspaper. “The team answered all my hopes and desires about the length of the contract (three years) and is extremely professional.”

    Gilbert explained that the BMC management treated him “as a neo-pro, not as the world number one”, which reassured him during negotiations. He recalled how he suffered under the huge pressure of being the only leader of the Francaise des Jeux in 2007. He points out that he might not have the same success in 2012 as this year and he doesn’t want to carry the weight of a whole team on his shoulders.

    “I quickly realised it’s better to be one of many good riders in a dream team instead of racing in a squad where all the weight of responsibility is on your shoulders,” he said.

    “Cadel has become a true rider, self confident and fully mature,” he said, seemingly happy to be back alongside Evans after they spent two years in the same team in 2008 and 2009.

    A decision fuelled by anger

    Gilbert’s decision to turn his back on a Belgian team and instead join the Swiss-based US-registered squad has not gone down well in Belgium but he is convinced he has made...

  • Freire and Rabobank set to split?

    Oscar Freire (Rabobank) speaks to the press before the start.
    Article published:
    August 22, 2011, 21:39 BST
    Pete Cossins

    Spanish sprinter is in negotiations with four teams

    Three-time world champion Oscar Freire is reported to be negotiating a one-year contract with four ProTeam squads including his current employers, Rabobank, with whom he has spent the last nine seasons. However, according to one report in Spain, it will be "a surprise" if Freire, who is planning to retire at the end of the 2012 season, opts to spend the last year of his career with Rabobank.

    Freire's brother and agent, Antonio, has revealed that Movistar is one of the other teams interested in signing the veteran sprinter. "We would like for Oscar to ride on a Spanish team, we've always said that, and Movistar is the best Spanish team around," Antonio Freire told "It's an historic squad and we've got a good relationship with the managers there."

    Asked about the possibility of completing a deal with Rabobank, Antonio Freire stated: "It's one option, but it's not the best from either a sporting or a financial point of view." He suggested that relations between the Freires and Rabobank have cooled and added that he expects to close a deal with his brother's new team within the next few days.

    During his 14-year pro career, Freire has only spent two with a Spanish team. He turned pro in 1998 with Vitalicio Seguros and was still with them when he won the world title for the first time the following season. He then spent three seasons with Mapei before moving on to Rabobank in 2003.

  • Australia selects stellar long list for Road Worlds

    Michael Matthews (Australia) was just too quick over the last 10 metres.
    Article published:
    August 23, 2011, 2:43 BST
    Jane Aubrey

    Tabotta says team prepared for "alternative scenarios"

    Australia has named its long team for the UCI Road World Championships in Copenhagen next month with some new faces making an appearance, and some old failing to make the cut.

    Cycling Australia National Performance Director, Kevin Tabotta, says the long teams give selectors a wide range of options for selection of teams that will suit the Denmark road course.

    "A course like Copenhagen comes around every five years or so and is an opportunity for nations to select riders suited to a fast bunch finish," said Tabotta. "But we also have to ensure we have alternative scenarios covered as well because, for example, a cold wet race could make for a very difficult day that might see a very different race evolve."

    While talk of a course custom made for sprinters has dominated the lead up, Tabotta says that coming up with a team to deliver the right result is not an easy task.

    "Fast finishers, opportunists, workers, we need to get the mix right to handle how the race might unfold," he explained. "There are a few races between now and the final selection dates and we'll be looking at who is in form.

    "Copenhagen might appear to be a less demanding course than some past circuits but there are no easy world titles and the riders will make it a tough and exciting week of racing."

    Australia has qualified nine riders for the road race, with Rory Sutherland making the initial selection for what would be his first selection in a national team since 2000. Missing is stalwart Michael Rogers who has sat out most of the 2011 season with a viral infection.

    Fourteen riders will be cut to nine closer to the event with Simon Clarke, Baden Cooke, Simon Gerrans, Matt Goss, Adam Hansen, Heinrich Haussler, Matthew Hayman, Leigh Howard, Michael Matthews, Robbie McEwen, Stuart O’Grady, Mark Renshaw, Sutherland and CJ Sutton all making the long list for...

  • Förster narrowly misses podium in Colorado opener

    Robert Forster (UnitedHealthcare) heading out for fourth place.
    Article published:
    August 23, 2011, 3:52 BST
    Kirsten Frattini

    Sprinter looks to stage four and five for victories

    The recent talk of high-altitude mountain climbing at the USA Pro Cycling Challenge might cause some people to wonder why a sprinter like Robert Förster (UnitedHealthcare) would dare show up and contest the seven-day event held from August 22-28 in Colorado. The German proved his worth by placing fourth in the opening prologue and he sees a potential victory at the finish of stage four in Steamboat Springs and stage five in Breckenridge.

    "My goal this week is to try and get a stage win from a sprint," Förster told Cyclingnews. "This is a good race for UnitedHealthcare. I think there are two or three chances for a bunch sprint. We will try for the sprints and that is an option for the team and it is not a bad option. I think the fourth and fifth stage could be field sprints."

    Förster finished the 8.2km prologue in a time of 8:33 minutes, losing six seconds to stage winner and overall race leader Patrick Gretsch (HTC-Highroad). American's Christian Vande Velde (Garmin-Cervelo) placed second and Brent Bookwalter (BMC Racing) placed third.

    However, Förster placed higher than he thought he would prior to the start of the stage. "The prologue is not too technical, there is one technical corner and the rest was straight, our team tried it out before the race," he said in the morning before the prologue.

    "I hope the prologue is good for the fast guys here and I will try to do well. I think I can try make a good result but I don't think that I can go for the top 10 because there are also a lot of good time trialist here and the level of racing is higher than it was at the Tour of Utah. I will try my...

  • Clarke bound for GreenEdge

    Australian Simon Clarke is making his Astana debut
    Article published:
    August 23, 2011, 4:17 BST
    Jane Aubrey

    Bannan says former Australian under 23 champion "can deliver"

    Simon Clarke is the 10th rider to join GreenEdge, the former Australian under 23 champion leaving Astana after just one season.

    Clarke has an established relationship with GreenEdge General Manager Shayne Bannan having spent six years at the Australian Institute of Sport and the 25-year-old explained that joining the project which is currently applying for a UCI ProTour licence was an "opportunity that couldn't be missed."

    "The launch of this team has been a dream and a work in progress for Shayne for the last 20-years and having been part of his development program in the past, it's going to be great to be part of this dream coming true," he said.

    "It's also a great honour to be part of a groundbreaking Australian team."

    Clarke joined Astana for the 2011 season after his plans to join Cervelo Test Team fell through with its collapse. Racing in Belgium for only the second time in his career, Clarke's debut at the Tour of Flanders showed some really promising signs. Clarke was able to anticipate the jockeying for position on the Oude Kwaremont and made a daring move before the peloton hit the climb. He was joined by eventual second-place-getter Sylvain Chavanel (Quickstep) and quickly found himself in the lead group on the road.

    While he ultimately finished 70th, it's efforts like that, that give him hope of more impressive performances in the spring with GreenEdge.

    "Next year I hope to be able to be competitive in the big one day races, particularly the Ardennes classics, and to gain the experience of the Grand Tours – Italy, France or Spain," Clarke said.

    Announced as part of the long list named Tuesday for the...