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First Edition Cycling News, Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Date published:
February 16, 2010, 0:00 GMT
  • Trofeo Costa Etrusca cancelled

    The Cervelo team dominated last year's Trofeo Costa Etrusca
    Article published:
    February 15, 2010, 20:23 GMT
    Cycling News

    Pro women's calendar shrinks even further

    Organisers of the Trofeo Costa Etrusca announced today that the race has been cancelled. The event, originally scheduled for three days from March 19-21 had already been cut to two days citing funding problems.

    "It was unexpected how many very serious problems of a familiar character we have that are preventing the dedication of myself and the organization of an event as complex as the Trofeo Costa Etrusca," said race director Renzo Parietti. "Together, with my collaborators, we really thank you for your understanding, we have decided to cancel our international appointment for elite women."

    The race is the fifth high-profile women's event to be removed from the UCI calendar this year. The Montreal World Cup, Grand Tour du Montreal and Tour de PEI were lost in one swoop earlier this year when the promoter retired. The Grand Boucle Feminine stage race was not granted UCI status this year.

    The World Cup rounds in Nürnberger and Berne were also lost this year, and while the Chongming Island round in China is a welcome addition, few women's teams can afford to travel halfway around the world for a one-day race as many are having their own budget problems in the wake of the global economic decline.

    The fragility of women's cycling is further demonstrated by the disappearance of several big teams including Flexpoint, Vision 1, Bigla and Selle Italia. The planned Skyter team which was supposed to be the squad of Olympic champion Nicole Cooke imploded, leaving behind the underfunded Noris team, while Cooke opted to ride out the season with the British National Team.

    Since reaching its peak in 2007 with 44 teams, the women's professional peloton has shrunk to just 27 UCI registered teams for 2010.

  • Boasson Hagen targets overall success in Oman

    Reach for the sky: Edvald Boasson Hagen takes over the leader's jersey
    Article published:
    February 15, 2010, 21:16 GMT
    Stephen Farrand

    Decisive hilly time trial stage suits the Norwegian

    Edvald Boasson Hagen pulled on three jerseys at the end of stage two of the Tour of Oman on Monday but quickly made it clear he's only targeting one of them.

    The 22 year-old Norwegian, who has been affectionately nicknamed Eddy –as in Eddy Merckx, as well as Edvald, by his teammates at Team Sky, pulled on the white best young rider's jersey, the green points jersey and the red race leader's jersey after finishing third on the stage behind Daniele Bennati (Liquigas) and Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Transitions).

    During Tuesday's 124km third stage from Saifat Ash Shiekh to Qurayvat, Boasson Hagen will wear the leader's red jersey and hopes to keep it until after the probable decisive stage, the 18.5km time trial on Friday.

    "It was great job by the whole team and it's good to get the leader's jersey thanks to the time bonuses. Now we've got to try and keep it for the rest of the week," he said after patiently collecting his three jersey, three trophies and three bouquets of flowers on the podium.

    "The Tour of Oman is a harder race than Qatar and so hopefully it's possible I can win it. It's early in the season and I've done mainly cross country skiing rather than long hours on the bike, so I wasn't expecting to have good form, but I feel good now and hopefully I can keep going like this."

    Friday's time trial includes some leg-sapping rollercoaster hills in the first section before diving down to the capital Muscat. The hills and length of the stage will mean the pure sprinters will have no chance of victory, but the same factors give Boasson Hagen a great chance to win his first stage race for Team Sky.

    "I hope so. But it's a lot up and down. Hopefully I can manage to go fast in the time trial as well in the sprints in the next few days," Boasson Hagen said.

    Cancellara, Pinotti and Bennati

    World time trial champion Fabian Cancellara (Saxo Bank) is the natural favourite for the time...

  • Australia gathering research with worlds camp

    The unmistakeable time trialling style of Bridie O'Donnell (VIC)
    Article published:
    February 15, 2010, 21:29 GMT
    Greg Johnson

    Green and gold girls looking for home turf advantage

    Australia's top female time trialers are attending a training camp in Melbourne, Australia this week to scout the 2010 UCI World Road Championships time trial course. The riders will also spend time in Monash University's wind tunnel, where a PhD student and the Australian Institute of Sport's biomechanics department hope to improve each rider's position.

    With the course weaving through the busy streets of Geelong, Australia's top women's coach Martin Barras has broken the route down in to eight segments which will be completed individually over two time slots today. Riders attending the camp include current Australian champion in the discipline Amber Halliday, top Australia finisher at last year's worlds Alexis Rhodes and time trial convert Bridie O'Donnell.

    "It's a heavily urbanized course which makes it unpractical to run the course all in one shot without any interruptions due to traffic lights, traffic or stop signs," Barras told Cyclingnews. "There will be no trial event, so for a local team there's no option to run a full rehearsal on the course.

    "We're taking the girls on the course with the purpose of familiarizing themselves with the course – wind directions, road conditions - all those kind of things," he added. "We're recording the performances so we can start profiling the type of race we're going to get."

    Barras hopes the data gathered from the camp will assist with designing course-specific training programs and also project a likely winning time for the event. It's the second camp the Australian squad has held on the course and with the European season about to get underway it also represents the last chance to gather data on the course before worlds.

    "It's very much to improve our knowledge of the course, improve our knowledge of the girls which go with us to the course, so we can then apply the best training prescription as possible," said Barras. "On top of that we want to get an...

  • Xacobeo Galicia presentation a 'family' affair

    Xacobeo Galicia rides with 200 locals.
    Article published:
    February 16, 2010, 6:51 GMT
    Cycling News

    Pro Conti squad continues to punch above its weight in 2010

    Xacobeo Galicia presented its 2010 squad on Sunday, and true to style the low key affair reflected the team's focus on its regional roots.

    The festivities included a religious ceremony in Obradoiro Square, followed by a team ride with 200 young locals (pictured, right) and a presentation of the squad by President of the Xunta de Galicia Alberto Núñez Feijoo, Regional Minister of Culture and Tourism Roberto Varela and General Secretary for Sports, Jose R. Lete.

    The team took out the teams classification at last year's Vuelta a España, with captain Ezequiel Mosquera securing fifth place on general classifcation. This came after the squad had ridden the Giro d'Italia may, its first grand tour appearance.

    The Galician squad was again granted Professional Continental status by the UCI and aims to return to the Vuelta this season to defend its crown, and while there were lingering doubts about the team's future late last year, the announcement of its status and eligibility to ride the season's biggest races meant the regional outfit would continue to punch above its weight in 2010.

  • Roberts focuses on Classics and Giro

    Luke Roberts (Milram) was happy about something, it might have been being the highest place South Australian - but we have our doubts.
    Article published:
    February 16, 2010, 8:05 GMT
    Richard Tyler

    Milram rider to make second career Grand Tour appearance in May

    Bouyed by a strong start to the season which sees him in fifth on the UCI world rankings, Australian Luke Roberts is hopeful he can hold his strong form through the Spring Classics and into the second Grand Tour appearance of his career at the Giro d'Italia.

    "When I was with Team CSC I raced Paris-Roubaix with [Fabian] Cancellara and Stuart O'Grady when they won, so I've got a lot of experience that I'm hoping I can put to use at Milram," Roberts told Cyclingnews in Mallorca, Spain, on Monday.

    The 33-year-old will shortly embark on a Spring calendar that features Milan-Sanremo (March 20), Gent-Wevelgem (March 28), the Tour of Flanders (April 4) and Paris-Roubaix (April 11). His preparation for the Classics began ideally thanks to a strong return to the ProTour at last month's Tour Down Under, where he finished fifth overall, 17 seconds adrift of winner André Greipel.

    "When I met with [Milram] we spoke about the Tour Down Under as an important goal; I know the roads and I've had a lot of experience at the race." said Roberts, who had expected to arrive in Adelaide in good form. "Finishing last season early meant I could put in a really strong couple of months of training, so the Tour Down Under was a big goal."

    Although pleased with his result at home, Roberts admitted things could have gone even better. "I was hoping it would be a little bit harder, to be honest. It was more difficult that previous years but it was still essentially a sprinter's race.

    "I knew it would be difficult to get the time bonuses over the sprinters so I decided to have that dig on the Saturday [stage 5] from a kilometre out and was able to get a time bonus and time on the peloton which I was able to hang on to. If it had been a little bit harder it would have been good for me."

    In addition to his potential for the Tour Down Under and the Classics, Milram signed Roberts to bolster the lead-out train of their star sprinter,...

  • Sutherland and De Maar reunited Stateside

    Rory Sutherland enjoying his morning stretch.
    Article published:
    February 16, 2010, 10:00 GMT
    Kirsten Frattini

    United Healthcare pair targets Tour of California

    United Healthcare presented by Maxxis's recruitment of powerhouse rider Marc de Maar from the Rabobank ProTour team means the Dutchman has been reunited with former teammate and two-time NRC winner Rory Sutherland as the team held its opening training camp in Tucson, Arizona last week.

    "It was a really nice camp and it was different to what I'm used to in Europe because we did a lot of cycling and training and of course we had some sponsor activities and some team building stuff," De Maar told Cyclingnews.

    "I'm living here full time now. Before camp I stayed at Rory's place in Boulder, Colorado and that's also the place where I will stay the rest of the season. I will try to find an apartment for myself because at the moment I am still staying at Rory's and he will kick me out I'm afraid."

    De Maar, 26, arrived Stateside after a four-year term with the Rabobank ProTour team. He spent the majority of his career with the Dutch squad, beginning with the youth program in 2001 and 2002, followed by the amateur team in 2004 and 2005 before joining the ProTour ranks. Sutherland's five-year term with Rabobank overlapped with De Maar's in 2004, when they were both racing for the amateur outfit.

    "Marc is fitting in really well," explained Sutherland. "I think it's always difficult for a foreigner to come into a predominantly English-speaking team and in a different country. The language, sponsors and the way you live is different, everything changes.

    "It's not an easy step to make but I have a great respect for Marc. I know what he can do on a bike and I wouldn't have recommended him to the team if I didn't think it was someone that could head into the way that we race here and really help the team."

    De Maar noted that with the Rabobank ProTour team he was just one of many good riders who spent countless races working for riders like Denis Menchov and Oscar Freire. This year, United Healthcare presented by Maxxis has given...

  • Contador: First race since Tour de France

    Alberto Contador (Astana)
    Article published:
    February 16, 2010, 10:19 GMT
    Cycling News

    Downplays chances of repeating 2009 Algarve victory

    Alberto Contador is getting ready for his first race of the season, the Volta ao Algarve, and is downplaying his chances of repeating his overall victory in the Portuguese race from last year.

    The Astana leader knows his rivals will keep a closer eye on him and he, “will not get the same opportunities as in 2009.” In addition, last year he came directly to the race after a training camp in California. “This year, however, there has been very bad weather in Madrid and I have not trained as I would have liked.”

    “Anyway, this is the first race of the year, and we should not give it too much importance.”

    The Tour de France winner is still looking forward to the race, though. “I am a rider who likes to compete and that's what motivates me. I think I come with a good level, but not with that of 2009, when I won.”

    His main goal, he said, was not to win but to prepare for future racing. “I'm fine, but what I want is to have good preparation for Paris-Nice, which I want to contest.”

    Wednesday's start will be his first UCI-ranked race since the Tour de France last summer, making this the longest he has ever voluntarily not raced. Starting up again, “is a handicap, because you lack a bit. It's not as if you had finished the season after the Worlds,” Contador said.

    “You must train hard to reach the same point, although it has its positive side. In the long term, the body will appreciate this rest.”

    Contador is not one to rest on his laurels, and looks to keep on getting better. “I think I can improve in both mountain and time trials. I'm doing some tests and the results are even better than last year. I hope that it works out in competition.”


  • Rasmussen still considering Mexican citizenship

    Michael Rasmussen (Miche) shivers after stage 1
    Article published:
    February 16, 2010, 10:42 GMT
    Cycling News

    Wants to ride Worlds in native Denmark in 2011

    Michael Rasmussen is considering taking on Mexican citizenship in order to ride the World Championships in his native Denmark in 2011. Rasmussen is eligible because his wife is a Mexican citizen.

    Since his two-year suspension for violating the “whereabouts” rules before the 2007 Tour de France, the Danish Cycling Federation (DCU) has said it would not nominate him to the national team.

    Being excluded from the team, he would “lose the opportunity to stand at the Worlds,” he told the Danish website "I'd love to ride the Worlds on home soil next year and if it is not feasible as a Dane, then I still go as a Mexican."

    Last year Rasmussen, 35, rode with the Mexican team Tecos Trek, before signing with Miche for the 2010 season. He indicated that he was told it would not be a problem to get Mexican citizenship, and the plan is still under serious consideration.

    "I have far from abandoned the idea, and it is actually the only way out if the DCU does not change its attitude,” he said.

    Rasmussen's next race will be the Trofeo Laigueglia, followed by the Giro de Sardegna, February 23 – 27.

    “Although it is still early in the season, it is a race I look forward to with some expectations. Partly because it will hopefully be slightly warmer, and also because one of the stages offers an exciting finale with a long climb,” he said.