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First Edition Cycling News, Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Date published:
August 09, 2011, 1:00 BST
  • Basso looking to bounce back after poor Tour de France

    Ivan Basso (Liquigas-Cannondale)
    Article published:
    August 08, 2011, 13:50 BST
    Stephen Farrand

    Italian ready to create Schleck style brotherhood with Nibali

    Ivan Basso (Liquigas-Cannondale) has insisted he has no regrets about his season despite only finishing eighth at the Tour de France, 7:23 behind Cadel Evans and more than a minute down on rival Italian Damiano Cunego (Lampre-ISD).

    Basso struggled to respond to the decisive attacks in the mountains and lost time in both the team time trial and the final individual time test. He blamed his lack of form on the nasty crash he suffered while at an altitude training camp on Mount Etna in mid-May. He hit a road grid, needed 15 stitches in a head wound and was unable to train properly for two weeks.

    “I’m not looking for excuses, it’s not an alibi but I think it’s fair to take an objective look at what happened. The crash was serious,” Basso pointed out in an interview with the Italian La Repubblica newspaper.

    “There were some serious consequences too. As well as the stitches and the weakening of my vision, I also had vertebrae problems which caused me to lose feelings in my wrists and so stopped me working on my time trialing. I also had to take antibiotics for a long time and make up for the missed training. People can criticise me but my conscience is clear. I did more than 40,000 metres of climbing in the month before the Tour. Maybe that was too much but I’m a perfectionist and I didn’t want the crash to affect my Tour.”

    Basso conceded that he was unable to go with the attacks at the Tour de France but suggested that Evans and the Schlecks were unbeatable whatever his level of fitness.

    “That happens when your form isn’t perfect. You push a bigger gear to try and compensate for your lack of rhythm,” he said. “But there was little anyone could do against Cadel and the...

  • Breschel will be back for World Championships

    Matti Breschel (Rabobank) lost his overall lead
    Article published:
    August 08, 2011, 15:47 BST
    Daniel Benson

    Illness at Tour of Denmark

    Despite having to pull out of the final stage of the Tour of Demark through illness, Matti Breschel (Rabobank) is confident his form is heading in the right direction in time for the World championships at the end of September.

    The Dane has missed the majority of the season after undergoing two separate knee operations. He looked to be closing in on his best form at his home Tour, running close to victory on two stages. However illness struck before the penultimate stage.

    "I came down with the flu on the morning of the final stage. I had a fever and I was being sick. I really wanted to do the stage, it was in my home town and all my friends and family were there,” Breschel told Cyclingnews.

    His problems also meant that Breschel missed out on the chance to race on this year’s World Championship course, which was covered by the peloton on the final day.

    “They did one lap but that’s not a problem, I’ve done it 30 times already. I have to keep positive though. It’s better to be sick now rather than in three weeks,” he said.

    Building for the World Championships

    Despite his troubles, Breschel is happy with how his strength and speed are progressing. His season looked in tatters back in April when he was forced to miss the Classics but his second operation, coupled with two months of pain-free training have allowed him to build up towards the Worlds, a race in which he has twice placed on the podium.

    “I’m definitely a lot happier. I was up there for a win on a few stages and my shape is good. I still need the extra two per cent to make a difference but I feel like I’m getting there. If I think back I’ve been away for a long, long time so to be up there and be one of the strongest was really...

  • Parker primed for RadioShack debut at Tour of Utah

    Dale Parker (Trek-Livestrong) won the men's time trial at the Tour of the Gila
    Article published:
    August 08, 2011, 18:18 BST
    Jane Aubrey

    Aussie young gun joins squad as stagiaire from Trek-Livestrong

    RadioShack heads into the Tour of Utah with two stagiaires in their ranks – Kiwi George Bennett and Australian Dale Parker, the latter telling Cyclingnews that he was shocked by his inclusion in the team despite an impressive year to date.

    "I knew I had some good results but it was still a surprise being so young – I only turned 19 in May," he explained via phone prior to the teams presentation. "It's just starting to feel real now, I've just got to the motel and got my kit and went for a ride with George [Bennett]. It's starting to feel a bit more real. It's going to be good to meet all the guys and I'm enjoying myself."

    Parker claimed the Trek-Livestrong team's first win of the 2011 season, with his shock six second victory over a field of veterans in the 26.6 kilometre time trial at the Tour of the Gila in April, a moment he claims was a turning point in his road career. Weeks earlier, the South Australian rider had crashed out of Redlands resulting in badly bruised calf, restricting his training. But when it came to the time trial, everything fell into place.

    "I knew I felt good, my warm up was good and I thought that I could be on a good one," he recalled. "It was weird, once I came back I was in the hot seat for maybe a half and hour waiting for some of the bigger guys to come in and I somehow managed to hold the fastest time all day. So I took a fair bit of confidence out of it. I knew I was strong in the time trial in juniors but I think I've sort of made myself aware that I can be a good time triallist at that next level and that's something I want to try and specialise in after London."

    Parker went on to finish second overall, 3:17 behind Francisco...

  • Latest UCI rankings reveal the chase for points

    Cadel Evans (BMC) is lauded by the Schleck brothers.
    Article published:
    August 08, 2011, 20:38 BST
    Stephen Farrand

    Great Britain and the USA set to have nine-rider teams for Worlds

    Teams, riders and nations are continuing to fight for UCI WorldTour ranking points as they chase qualification places for the road race world championships, ProTeam licences and contracts for 2012.

    The latest UCI ranking was issued on Monday following the Tour of Poland. Riders and teams have until the end of the season to score as many points as possible to boost their chances of staying in the WorldTour in 2012. However next week’s ranking will be decisive for deciding the number of riders each national will be allowed to field in the elite men’s road race and time trial.

    Under UCI rules, the first 10 countries in the UCI WorldTour nation ranking on August 15, 2011 will be allowed to have nine riders in the race. Other nations have to qualify via their ranking in the Europe Tour, but only the leading six nations in those rankings can have nine riders in the race. Nations ranked from seventh to 16th can field three riders.

    Spain currently dominates the nations' ranking with 1306 points. Italy is second with 1041 points and Australia is third with 1022.

    Both Great Britain and the USA are in the top 10 thanks to recent success in WorldTour races. Great Britain has risen from ninth to seven in this latest ranking after Pete Kennaugh, Steve Cummings and Adam Blythe scored precious sprints in the Tour of Poland. The USA is ranked ninth, slipping one place from eighth, with 482 points. France is a distant 10th with 377 points and with Taylor Phinney (BMC) performing well at the Eneco Tour, the USA looks assured of a place in the top 10.

    Switzerland, Kazakhstan, Denmark, Norway, Slovakia and Ireland are all outside the top 10 and so will only, at best, be able to field six-rider teams.

    Great Britain is targeting the rainbow jersey in the elite men’s road race with Mark Cavendish but will only be able to field an eight-rider time trial...

  • Tour of Utah raises competition level in USA

    Levi Leipheimer (Radioshack) is the number one favorite for the week of racing.
    Article published:
    August 09, 2011, 2:30 BST
    Laura Weislo

    'Heyday' of cycling with three major stage races

    The Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah is one of three stage races to attract the sport's top teams in 2011, and together with the Amgen Tour of California and the USA Pro Cycling Challenge in Colorado it has brought about the "heyday" of cycling for the United States, according to USA Cycling COO Sean Petty.

    Speaking at the press conference in Salt Lake City, Petty applauded the race organisation, in particular Larry Miller, who was the driving-force behind the creation of the race and after whom the event was named following his death. The event became UCI-licensed for the first year, and immediately was given a 2.1 status - something which Petty said was unusual.

    "Usually a race starts at 2.2 status before working up to 2.1, but we made an exception for Utah because of the reputation of this race - it's known for its quality and its difficulty.

    "We are grateful for the vision of the Millers and their perseverance: sticking with this race and promoting it and elevating it, because it's truly going to be a great event."

    The race has attracted five ProTeams, four Professional Continental squads and seven Continental teams, and brought in riders from across the globe.

    "This is the heyday for American cycling," Petty said. "We have the greatest amount of high level racing that we've ever had at one time, and it's a credit to the drive of the sport and the teams driving it."

    Defending champion Levi Leipheimer (RadioShack) agreed with the assessment, listing the three big US races, four WorldTour teams and the fact that a US team won the Tour de France (BMC) as evidence.

    "The health of US...

  • Jamis-Sutter Home primed for Utah after Elk Grove victory

    Tyler Wren (Jamis) just about snuck into the top 10 today with his strong ride.
    Article published:
    August 09, 2011, 5:21 BST
    Kirsten Frattini

    Team designates Wren for the mountains and Zirbel for the time trial

    US-based Continental outfit Jamis-Sutter Home's recent overall victory at the UCI 2.2 Tour of Elk Grove is a good indication that it is primed for the upcoming UCI 2.1 Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah held from August 9-14 in Salt Lake City. According to directeur sportif Sebastian Alexandre, the team will have several cards to play when it comes to placing well during individual stages and in the overall classification.

    "We were really happy with the win at Tour of Elk Grove, it is good for us heading into the Tour of Utah," Alexandre said. "I'm really happy with the team that we have and the way that our riders are riding, not only Luis Amaran. I have four riders that were staying at altitude before the Tour of Utah with Tyler Wren, Jamie Driscoll, Nick Frey and Andy Guptill."

    The team will be lead by Tour of Elk Grove winner Luis Amaran, who placed second out of a breakaway in stage two and moved into the leader's jersey.With the help of his teammates, he maintained that lead through a tactical battle for time bonuses during stage three finale.

    The flat parcours of the Tour of Elk Grove is vastly different in comparison to the high-altitude and mountainous terrain that makes the Tour of Utah one of the toughest stages races in the nation. According to Alexandre, Amaran is not in top climbing form and will not be the team's go-to GC rider during the upcoming six-day event.

    "Luis just won Elk Grove but he is not...

  • Landa the latest Euskaltel prodigy

    Euskaltel-Euskadi at the presentation of the teams
    Article published:
    August 09, 2011, 7:25 BST
    Peter Cossins

    Winner of stage in Burgos

    Mikel Landa went into the Vuelta a Burgos with his role very much one of working for Euskaltel-Euskadi team leader Samuel Sánchez. However, when the exertions of the last month and a half caught up with Sánchez on the key final stage to Lagunas de Neila, 21-year-old Landa was given the chance to show what he can do and delivered an impressive demonstration of his talent.

    Heading up the final climb, Landa was with the highly experienced Juan José Cobo less than half a kilometre from the finish, but then accelerated away to finish three seconds clear of the Geox rider at the summit to claim his first victory as a pro in his debut season in the elite ranks. The win also gave him the mountains title, underlining where his talent lies.

    The victory is even more impressive when you consider that Landa has spent a good deal of his first pro season on the sidelines recovering from two bad crashes. The first occurred in the Vuelta a Murcia back in March, when he crashed on the descent of the Collado Bermejo, breaking his right collar-bone. That put him out of race action until May.

    Just a month after returning, Landa was hit by more bad luck when a herd of cows wandered into the road on a descent during the penultimate stage of the Criterium du Dauphiné. He collided with one of them, ending up in hospital with a suspected fracture of his left collar-bone this time. Fortunately, the bone wasn’t broken, but Landa was forced to sit out again for a few weeks to allow his injuries to heal.

    The young Basque has long been earmarked for big things. The first rider to advance all the way through the Euskadi structure via their Naturgas junior...

  • Aldag helping HTC-Highroad riders find teams for 2012

    Mark Cavendish (HTC-Highroad) was full of praise for Tony Martin after the stage.
    Article published:
    August 09, 2011, 9:24 BST
    Daniel Benson

    Only a few riders still to find places

     Rolf Aldag is confident that all the HTC-Highroad riders will successfully find new teams after it was announced last week that the team would cease to operate at the end of the year.

    The team’s senior sports director has spent much of the last few days using his extensive list of contacts to help riders, staff and teams personnel find positions for 2012. He estimates that all but a few have either secured or are in negotiations with new teams.

    “Most of them are pretty much alright now. Most of them are set,” Aldag told Cyclingnews.

    “Many people have the luxury to have people waiting on them. So for example Tony Martin hadn’t signed yet. I think he can hold himself back for a bit from a few offers because I don’t think he’ll have any trouble because the offers he’ll get are just crazy.”

    “If you look down the rankings of the first 70 riders you’ll see Tony and Marco Pinotti are available and that’s about it. So if teams want points for their licences they’d better talk to him quick. A rider like Tony, his value will not drop down because he keeps his points as long as he signs a contract before ProTeam applications are submitted for approval. If I was him I would lean back and have meetings with every team manager and see what they offer and what they can do.”

    However not everyone on HTC-Highroad’s roster are as luck or as talented as Pinotti or Martin. And no matter how much support they may have given their team leaders, they have fewer opportunities to find homes for next year, Aldag acknowledged.

    “Other guys will say, well I do have an offer, it’s not exactly what I’m looking for but that’s life. This...