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First Edition Cycling News, Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Date published:
December 13, 2011, 0:00 GMT
  • USA Cycling announces American UCI-registered Continental Teams

    Michael Creed (Kelly Benefit Strategies-OptumHealth) and the rest of the Kelly team set the pace for the field for most of the race.
    Article published:
    December 12, 2011, 19:45 GMT
    By:
    Cycling News

    Two UCI-registered women's teams also released

    USA Cycling announced on Monday the 12 teams registered as UCI Continental Teams in the United States, as well as the two US-based squads registered as UCI Women's Teams for the 2012 racing season.

    The 12 Continental Teams are in addition to the two US-based UCI ProTeams (BMC Racing, and Garmin-Cervelo) and the two Professional Continental Teams (Team Type 1-Sanofi and UnitedHealthCare Pro Cycling Team) previously announced by the UCI. This means that all together, the United States houses 16 professional men's cycling teams recognized by the UCI.

    US-based UCI Continental Teams for 2012 include: Bissell Cycling, BMC Hincapie Sportswear Development Team, Bontrager Livestrong Team, Chipotle Development Team, Competitive Cyclist Racing Team, Jamis/Sutter Home, Jelly Belly Cycling Team, Kenda/5-Hour Energy Cycling Team, Team Exergy, Team Mountain Khakis/Smartstop, Team Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies, and Wonderful Pistachios Cycling

    For 2012, the Kelly Benefit Strategies team will be known as Team Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies thanks to a new title sponsor. Last year Optum was a secondary sponsor. The squad has signed Tom Zirbel for 2012.

    Team Mountain Khakis/Smartstop is making a return to this UCI registered continental team list.

    Bontrager took over title sponsorship from Trek for the Bontrager Livestrong Team. The team is now indepedent from Radioshack because in 2011, the association meant that it wasn't allowed to race the Amgen Tour of California, Tour of Utah or USA Pro Cycling Challenge due to being part of the same organization. Chipotle Development Team, on the other hand, has not implemented such a...

  • Astana and Liquigas announced for 2012 Tour Down Under

    The bunch lined up on the start line, which used the same course as the later Tour Down Under Cancer Council Classic
    Article published:
    December 12, 2011, 22:08 GMT
    By:
    Cycling News

    More European riders to South Australian stage race in January

    The list of European riders heading to South Australia in January continues with the announcement of the Astana and Liquigas-Cannondale team line-ups for the 2012 Santos Tour Down Under.

    The Kazakh outfit will bring three new signings to the event, with Borut Bozic and Jacopo Guarnieri acting as the squad's new sprinters and Dmitriy Muravyev another candidate for the stage race's overall classification, together with Valentin Iglinskiy.

    Race director Mike Turtur was looking forward to see how both teams performed. "They have always been very competitive here in the past, so in 2012, we are expecting no different," Turtur said. "Muravyev, Bozic and Guarnieri all join Astana for the 2012 season. Guarnieri was selected to add to the team's sprinting stocks, perhaps making him one to watch vying for points for the Jayco Sprint jersey. Moreover, we will expect Bozic to come out strong having had a taste for victory in 2011, with a stage win at the Tour de Suisse."

    Joining them will be Assan Bazayev, who finished eighth in the 2010 Worlds.

    Liquigas-Cannondale has assembled a mixed team of young and a mittle more experienced riders for the race, also including three newcomers to the squad, Stefano Agostini, Federico Canuti and Daniele Ratto.

    Slovenian Kristijan Koren will be a rider to watch with the victory of the 2010 G.P. Città di Camaiore on his palmarès.

    The full Liquigas-Cannondale team for the 2012 Santos Tour Down Under will include Stefano Agostini, Alan Marangoni, Federico Canuti, Kristijan Koren, Daniele Ratto, Mauro Da Dalto and Fabio Sabatini.

    Astana will line up with the following riders: Dmitriy Muravyev, Borut Bozic, Jacopo Guarnieri, Francesco Masciarelli, Assan Bazayev, Valentin Iglinskiy and Dmitriy Gruzdev.

  • Win a Cyclepassion calendar 2012

    Polish cross-country racer Maja Wloszczowska
    Article published:
    December 12, 2011, 23:56 GMT
    By:
    Cycling News

    Three calendars to give away

    Ever wonder what some of the world's elite female bikers look like under all the mud and their jerseys, helmets and sunglasses? A few of the fastest female bikers bare not quite all to show off their super fit bodies in the 2012 Cyclepassion calendar.

    Enter Cyclingnews' contest to win one of three copies of the Cyclepassion calendar.

    Featuring top female cycling stars in poses photographed by Daniel Geiger, the calendar will be in its seventh year in 2012.

    Shooting the calendar took the Cyclepassion guys all over the racing circuit, from the mountain biking World Cups in Offenburg and Nové Mesto na Morav, to the Tour de France. The riders featured are cross-country racers Pauline Ferrand-Prévot, Hanna Klein, Katherine O`Shea and Maja Wloszczowska, and road racers Veronica Andréasson, Liz Hatch and Marion Rousse.

    The contest's winners will be selected at random from all correct answers to a trivia question.

    Visit the Cyclepassion website. Cyclepassion produces annual calendars and some posters featuring some of cycling's favorite stars.

    Hurry and enter now to be in the draw. For a gallery of the calendar, click here.

  • Kreuziger to focus on Giro d'Italia in 2012

    Roman Kreuziger (Astana)
    Article published:
    December 13, 2011, 1:13 GMT
    By:
    Cycling News

    Czech shirks the amount of time trialing at Tour de France

    The three individual time trials of the 2012 Tour de France have forced Roman Kreuziger (Astana) to reconsider his anticipated role in the race, and ultimately confirm he will be a non-starter for the prologue in Liège.

    "I will risk losing a lot of time in them," said Kreuziger.

    The first race against the clock will the prologue in Liège over 6.1 kilometres, with the next on stage 9 over 38 kilometres between Arc-et-Senans and Besançon and then finally on the penultimate stage – also the most lengthy at 52 kilometres between Bonneval and Chartres.

    Instead, the Czech will focus on the Giro d'Italia, with less racing against the clock required and more of his favoured cols.

    "The next Giro will be more reasonable than the 2011 race. I'll have a real chance of making the podium," he said.

    The Tour de France is set to feature 96.1 kilometres of worth of individual time trials, as opposed to the 72.4 kilometres on offer at the Giro, which includes a 32.2 kilometre team time trial on stage 4.

    This year, Kreuziger finished 6th overall at the Giro and won the young rider classification.

     

  • Tour Down Under victory Greipel's first objective

    Andre Greipel (Omega Pharma-Lotto) was over the moon with his stage win
    Article published:
    December 13, 2011, 2:11 GMT
    By:
    Cycling News

    Hansen, Henderson to support two-time winner

    Two-time winner of the Tour Down Under, Andre Greipel will return to the Australian WorldTour race in January in a bid for his third victory which would surpass the record he currently shares with Stuart O'Grady.

    Greipel previously won the event in 2008 and 2010.

    It will be Greipel's first outing in Lotto Belisol colours, the team having been largely formed out of the Omega Pharma-Lotto squad. The German sprint powerhouse will be joined by trusted leadout man, Australian Adam Hansen.

    Greipel said he was excited to be returning to what has been a happy hunting ground, with eight stage wins to his name.

    "Racing in Australia has a special meaning for me, since it is here that I first knocked on the door as a world class sprinter. I am looking forward to the stages where we will be able to test our new sprint train with solid riders in who I believe a lot. Winning a stage in the Santos Tour Down Under is my first objective for the 2012 season," he admitted.

    Sky-recruit Greg Henderson will be making his debut for the Belgian-based outfit, with Directeur Sportif suggesting that the Kiwi will play a key role in delivering Greipel to the line.

    "The Santos Tour Down Under has gained its position as opening stage race for the new season. We have selected a team that will be ready to compete for victory in each of the stages. A good start of the season is very important to us and how could we better start the season than with a stage win in the Santos Tour Down Under?" Sergeant said.

    "The Lotto Belisol squad...

  • 2011 Reader Poll: Weylandt and Tondo remembered

    Only in the latter part of his career did Tondo overcome misfortune to show his true talent.
    Article published:
    December 13, 2011, 9:36 GMT
    By:
    Daniel Benson

    Wouter Weylandt and Xavier Tondo, legends of cycling

    Each year we ask the cycling community to vote in our reader poll. One category that always stands out is the Legend of the Year award. In most cases it's awarded to a rider who has retired - a farewell token of thanks as they leave the peloton for the real world - or in last year's case to Laurent Fignon, who gave so much to our sport.

    This year, however, the Cyclingnews team has decided to acknowledge two riders - Wouter Weylandt and Xavier Tondo.

    Both men were hugely popular within the sport and touched so many fans with their racing styles and personalities. They are, and will be, greatly missed.

    Personally, I only got the chance to interview each rider on few occasions. At the start of Amstel Gold Race in 2010 I remember talking to Xavier. He'd just driven all the way up from Girona, Spain, to Holland in order to take part in the race. The drive, brought on by an ash cloud, meant a race against time in order to make the weekend start but as the Spaniard lined up he was a jovial as ever, chatting freely with the press and fans. He made it clear that he was here to respect the race and that it was an event he dearly enjoyed.

    In an age where sports personalities are often criticised for attitude or lack of commitment, it spoke volumes of the man's passion.

    My only interview with Wouter came almost a year later and on the eve of Paris-Roubaix. He'd crashed a few days earlier but at the Leopard pre-race press conference, he remained strong and full of confidence that he could pull out a performance to help his teammates. He was clearly uncomfortable and in pain as he patiently answered questions, but his resolve as well as Xavier's spirit go a long way to show just how special our sport can be: the dedication, sacrifice, hard work but most of all love everyone even remotely...

  • Lotto-Belisol training in Spain

    Mehdi Sohrabi (Tabriz Petrochemical) tried to replicate his stage win from the Tour of Qinghai Lake in July when he broke free of the leading group of five riders with Volodymyr Duma (Ukrainian National Team).
    Article published:
    December 13, 2011, 10:27 GMT
    By:
    Cycling News

    Sergeant happy with new signing Mehdi Sohrabi

    Off-season training is going well for the Lotto-Belisol squad, who are currently holding a team camp in Mojacar, Spain. Since December 6, the Belgian outfit directed by Marc Sergeant has gathered on the Southern Spanish coastline to work out smoothly in decent temperatures between 15 and 20° Celsius.

    The team, which has just announced its line-up for the first World Tour event of 2012, the Santos Tour Down Under, is doing four-hour training rides each day. Sergeant was impressed with the way his returning riders had already integrated the new arrivals amongst them, and with the strength and motivation some of them were showing.

    "The good atmosphere that we already felt during the team building camp now continues on the bike," the team manager told Het Nieuwsblad. "The integration of Mehdi Sohrabi is also going well. On both a cultural and sporting level, the man is making enormous efforts and is surprising us with his explosiveness and power."

    The Iranian, two-time wnner of the UCI Asia Tour, was signed by Lotto as a valuable addition for next season, notably securing its World Tour status. The mostly Belgian team nevertheless has eight foreign riders on its 2012 roster after parting ways with Omega Pharma at the end of this season. The team's star rider next year will be the German sprinter André Greipel.
     

  • 2011 Reader Poll: Gilbert named Rider of the Year

    Belgian champion Philippe Gilbert on the podium after winning the Grand Prix de Wallonie.
    Article published:
    December 13, 2011, 11:57 GMT
    By:
    Barry Ryan

    Belgian takes your votes ahead of Evans and Cavendish

    Philippe Gilbert has been crowned Best Rider of the Year by Cyclingnews readers, earning over 50% of the votes cast. Always a consistent performer in recent years, the Belgian seemed to reach new levels in 2011, and his devastating accelerations on short, sharp slopes allowed him to reel off a series of victories remarkable in their quality as well as their quantity.

    Tour de France winner Cadel Evans took second place in the poll, while world champion Mark Cavendish was third. In any other season, either man would have been a worthy winner of the Rider of the Year crown, but such was Gilbert’s dominance that his triumph can brook little argument.

    On learning of the honour, Gilbert thanked his Omega Pharma-Lotto teammates for their work in helping him to throughout the season, as well as Cyclingnews’ readership for voting for him.

    “First of all thanks to all of the team and then I thank everybody behind this screen,” Gilbert told Cyclingnews in a video interview. “For me, it’s the first time so it’s a good prize and I’m happy to have it.”

    With 18 victories to his name in 2011, it is an onerous task to pick out a single defining highlight from a season where Gilbert appeared equally at ease on the Strade Bianche of Tuscany under slate grey March skies as on the melted tarmac of the Clasica San Sebastian on a dog day afternoon in August.

    Raised at the foot of La Redoute and weaned on La Doyenne lore, however, Gilbert understandably plumped for his victory at...