French Feillu brothers join Dutch Pro Continental team, Vacansoleil
Romain and Brice Feillu have signed two-year contracts with Dutch team Vacansoleil. In a surprise double transfer, the two brothers will leave their current team, Agritubel, at the end of the season. French sponsor Agritubel will leave the sport end of the year. The team lost leader Christophe Moreau to Caisse d'Epargne last month.
"I am happy with these two reinforcements," said Team manager Daan Luijkx, when describing what might be considered one of the transfer coups of the season. "We felt an immediate and positive feeling when we talked to Brice and Romain. They are young, achieved big results and have an obvious career plan. This suits the team's policy.
"The two different riders balance the team for different races."
Romain, at 25 years old, is the older of the two and is a sprinter. He wore the yellow jersey in the Tour de France in 2008. He won a stage in the Tour de Picardie and the Tour du Limousin this year.
Vacansoleil already boasts talented sprinter Borut Bozic, who won a stage of the Tour of Pologne earlier in the month.
In his debut season as a professional, Brice Feillu won stage seven of this year's Tour de France. He stormed away from a break on mountaintop finish to Andorra's Arcalís.
Four cyclists completed a massive 970 kilometres of racing to win the inaugural 24 Hours of Le Mans cycling race at the weekend. Cyril Masson, Jimmy Aubert, Bruno Teillet and Sebastien Heron won the event, etching their name alongside some of motor sport’s greatest names on the track which is home to sports car racing’s oldest endurance event.
Some 276 teams, comprising of up to six riders, took part in the race. True to Le Mans heritage, riders had to line up and run to their bikes to commence the race.
Amongst the competitors were the likes of Roger Legeay, who directed the now defunct Credit Agricole following his own professional cycling career, and sports car driver Stephane Sarrzain. Having already finished runner-up at Le Mans once this season Sarrazain, who also competed in the World Rally Championship with Subaru, again led his team to a second place finish. Legaey’s team included former Festina rider Jean-Jacques Henry, among others.
From L to R, French TV sports anchorman Gerard Holz, former professional rider Roger Legeay and Stephane Sarrazin, driver of the Peugeot 908 HDI FAP.
While David Brabham, Marc Gené and Alexander Wurz averaged 213 kilometres per hour on their way to victory in this year’s sports car race, the cyclo-sportif winners set a modest, yet still impressive, 39.3 km/h average during the 24 hour event race.
Former professional cyclists Eddy Seigneur and Jean-Francois Bernard also contested the event, held on Le Mans’ 4.185 kilometre Bugatti circuit. The Bugatti circuit, which was floodlit during the evening, is a shortened version of the whopping 13.65 km Circuit de la Sarthe used for the sports car race.
Kazakh professional rider Alexander Vinokourov is part of Team Astana effective Monday, August 24. He will race for team at the Vuelta a España, which starts Saturday in Assen, the Netherlands.
Team manager Johan Bruyneel and Rinus Wagtmans, the representative for the Kazakh authorities, reached an agreement on the fate of the Kazakh cyclist Vinokourov. His new contract is good through the end of 2010.
"There were hard negotiations as there were some problems between Johan Bruyneel and Vinokourov at the beginning of the Tour de France," said team spokesperson Philippe Maertens. "It took awhile [to reach an agreement] but, of course, the sponsors want Vino on the team. He created the team."
"Vinokourov gave a press conference in Monaco and said that if Johan didn't want to take him then Johan would have to go. Of course Johan wasn't happy with what Vino said," said Maertens, who added that negotiating the contract meant sorting out a financial issue, too. "It's not easy adding a new rider to a team in the middle of the season."
The Astana team faced financial troubles earlier this season when some rider were not paid for a few months. Eventually the situation was resolved, and the necessary bank guarantee, required by the UCI for rider salaries, was replenished after the Giro d'Italia.
The 34-year-old's first race for Astana will be the Vuelta a España, a race he won previously in 2006. Vinokourov will race with Astana teammates Assan Bazayev, Maxim Iglinskiy, Jesús Hernández, Chris Horner, Daniel Navarro, José Luis Rubiera, Michael Schär and Haimar Zubeldia. Sean Yates and Alexandr Shefer will direct the Grand Tour team.
Vinokourov will ride with an eye toward the overall win. "Chris Horner and you never know with Zubeldia, but those two and Vinokourov will ride for the classification," said Maertens.
"Vino has won the Vuelta, but nobody knows how good he is. It's...
Squad hopes to match its performances at the Giro and Tour
Though it will be racing without sprint star Mark Cavendish, Columbia-HTC is hoping to match its successful performances of the Giro d'Italia and Tour de France while racing at the Vuelta a España. Bunch sprint specialist André Greipel, time trial expert Bert Grabsch and GC contender Kim Kirchen will lead the team.
Kirchen is a former leader and top ten finisher in the Tour de France, Grabsch is the reigning World Time Trial Champion and Greipel's total of 15 wins this season thus far is second only to Columbia-HTC teammate Cavendish.
"The aim is essentially to shine on every different kind of terrain," said Columbia-HTC's sports director Brian Holm. "Kim is very motivated to take a strong result in the overall classification. His start to the season was all but ruined by injuries, so he's aiming to have a good end to the year.
"André is always ambitious in the sprints. You just have to look at his results to see that. And Bert [Grabsch] already knows what it takes to win in the Vuelta. He won a time trial stage there in 2007, and he's in good shape again.
"We've got lots of other cards to play, too," said Holm. "After doing a great Tour of Switzerland, Michael [Albasini] is eager to see what he can do in the overall for a major Tour, and I know Adam Hansen is motivated for the general classification. We have every chance of getting some top results in Spain."
The complete Columbia-HTC Team for the Vuelta includes Michael Albasini, André Greipel, Bert Grabsch, Adam Hansen, Greg Henderson, Kim Kirchen, Frantisek Rabon, Vicente Reynes and Marcel Sieberg.
US organiser calls for co-operation to improve safety
A five-rider crash on a high-speed descent at the 1000 Warriors Race has left three people in hospital, one with critical injuries. The race on Saturday was held in conjunction with the Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah.
The five riders included Dave Collins, Steve Beck, Mike Skousen, Wayne Smith and Grant Taylor - all members of the Red Mountain Brumpys Cycling Club from Mesa, Arizona. They crashed in to the back of a Ford Explorer that had stopped suddenly in front of them on the way down American Fork Canyon, hitting the back of the vehicle at approximately 64 km/hour. The vehicle stopped to avoid a truck pulling a trailer. The road was not closed to traffic.
“They had a rolling enclosure for the road race but people came back out as soon as the police went by,” said race promoter and cycling enthusiast Rick Bennett. “UDOT did not think it warranted a full road closure. We need to reach out to UDOT because that is a treacherous road and we have to have them close it in the future. If we don’t get full enclosure then this ride will never happen again.
“We need to be positive in looking forward rather than point fingers,” he added. “I have never seen so many cars up there before. By the grace of God we could have had a fatality there. We want to see what we can learn from this.”
Collins bore the brunt of the accident when he went through the vehicle’s rear window. According to group leader Sterling Baer, he was airlifted to the University of Utah Hospital. He underwent three surgeries over 13 hours to correct a broken jaw, facial bones, a punctured lung and a cut from his sternum to his ear that severed his jugular vein. Doctors report that despite his extensive injuries, they are positive he will make a full recovery.
Beck hit the back door of the vehicle and suffered a partially collapsed lung along with lacerations that required extensive stitching. He was taken to the...
21 seconds should see Norwegian survive time trial
Team Columbia-HTC believes Edvald Boasson Hagen will hold on to his Eneco Tour lead and win this year’s race heading into today’s final stage. Team sports director Tristan Hoffman believes Boasson Hagen has the psychologically edge heading into the closing individual time trial, where his race lead will come under pressure from the discipline’s specialists.
“He's now got nearly 30 seconds on the time trial specialists overall, and psychologically today's victory should give him the edge on his rivals for the final time trial," said Hoffman.
Should the young rider hold on to some of his 21 second lead after the 13.1-kilometre stage in Amersfoort, it will be his first stage race victory.
“My advantage should be enough to win overall, and I hope I get the victory because it would be a nice way to say thank you to the team for helping me so much here," said Boasson Hagen.
The Norwegian rider out-sprinted Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Slipstream), second on general classification, on Stage 6 to accumulate vital bonus seconds. "We couldn't have asked for a better result," said Hoffman. "We had to make a decision whether we went for the bonus seconds or not, and we decided to go for them. Other teams were interested in a bunch sprint, and in the last 10 kilometres it all came together.
“We knew Farrar was fast in a sprint, but Edvald's form is getting better and better,” he added.
Time is a tickin', and the seconds are counting down until the 64th Vuelta a España gets going this Saturday in Assen, the Netherlands. It's the first time the race has started outside the Iberian peninsula and the organisers hope that this will add a bit of 'orange zest' to an event that occasionally lacks a bit of the 'X Factor'.
This year, anticipation is higher thanks to an impressive lineup. With names such as Evans, Valverde, Basso, Vande Velde, Kreuziger, Gesink, Kirchen, Fuglsang plus the two Schlecks all on the start list, there are expectations of a real ding-dong in the weeks ahead. Factor in the participation of cycling's bad boy Alexandre Vinokourov, a born attacker, and there's grounds to believe that this year's edition should be one of the best in recent years.
Stages two and three travel 203.7km and 189.7km to Emmen and Venlo, respectively. The first of these is completely flat, with less than a 10 metre variation between the start elevation and the highest point, which should produce a big bunch sprint. It's more of the same the following day, the stage dipping into Germany before veering back into the Netherlands, the parcours including two uncategorised climbs.
So who will challenge? Last year's champion Alberto Contador...
Tom Zirbel and Alison Powers have maintained their National Racing Calendar leads in the men’s and women’s individual standings after the latest round. The weekend, which included the Tour of Utah and Marion Classic, will be the last weekend with multiple events for 2009 as the season draws to a close.
Zirbel leads the men’s standings by nearly 100 points, while Powers has a stranglehold on the women’s standings some 386 points ahead of nearest rival Kristin Armstrong (Cervelo-Lifeforce).
Colavita-Sutter Home extended its lead in the men’s team standings after winning the Marion Classic. Team Tibco placed two riders on the podium at the same event, furthering its lead in the women’s standings over Team Type 1.