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First Edition Cycling News, Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Date published:
February 21, 2012, 0:00 GMT
  • Van Den Broeck improves time trialling skills

    Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Omega Pharma-Lotto) wasn't the worst of the GC contenders in the time trial, but fell to 12th overall.
    Article published:
    February 20, 2012, 13:18 GMT
    By:
    Cycling News

    Lotto-Belisol rider very happy with Tour of Algarve test

    Jurgen Van den Broeck had reason to smile after Sunday's last stage of the Volta ao Algarve, a 25.8km time trial from Lagoa to Portimão. The Belgian completed the course only 29 seconds slower than the winner Bradley Wiggins (Sky), finishing in sixth position. The Lotto-Belisol Tour de France hope was relieved to see that the specific time trialling work he did over the winter bore fruit.

    "I'm overjoyed. This was my best time trial in years," Van Den Broeck told Sporza.

    The climber has worked hard to improve his abilities against the clock, which are his main obstacle in view of a Grand Tour success. Van Den Broeck had to abandon last year's Tour de France, but his performance at the Dauphiné time trial in Grenoble - on the same route that was used later at the Tour - saw him lose 2.28 minutes on Wiggins on a 42.5km course. He has greatly improved his skills since last year, a fact he also attributed to a bike change.

    "It's very pleasant that the work I've done in the winter is paying off," he continued. "I felt that I had more power in my legs. I think it's also got to do with my bike."

    But Lotto-Belisol not only put a new bike at Van Den Broeck's disposal, also a new mechanic: Chris Van Roosbroeck, who has worked for seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong during his time. "He's given me a lot of clues already. We've worked hard on my position because this time trial was so important. Now that I've got Armstrong's mechanic, perhaps he'll also give me Armstrong's legs..."
     

  • Madariaga: Euskaltel budget’s not risen for five years

    A team Euskaltel rider
    Article published:
    February 20, 2012, 14:38 GMT
    By:
    Peter Cossins

    Team boss confirms that the Basque team needs new sponsors and quickly

    Euskaltel team manager Miguel Madariaga has admitted that the squad needs a substantial injection of funds in order to keep competing at the top level of the sport. One of the founders of the team back in 1993, Madariaga says that the search for sponsors has been widened beyond their Basque Country base and confirmed that any new sponsorship deal could lead to non-Basque riders joining the team.

    “At the moment the worst thing about the team is that we have working with the same budget for the past five years. In fact, I’ve had to make some cuts because of the loss of some financial support, principally from the Basque government. Now we are looking for another sponsor to make up the money we’ve lost. The days are passing and I don’t think we will have any problems in 2012, but we have to find something
    for the future,” Madariaga told Marca.

    Madariaga described Euskaltel’s current budget as “the smallest of all the teams in the WorldTour”, revealing that it amounts to seven million euros. “It’s less than some continental teams,” he added. “We’ve not been able to raise it for five years and that’s not to be recommended."

    He said that the current UCI ranking points system works against the team’s philosophy of developing young Basque riders who work with two or three leaders, such as Samuel Sánchez, Igor Antón and Mikel Nieve. “It doesn’t only work against us from the economic point of view. Due to our philosophy we can’t pick up riders from outside the Basque Country, which means we can’t sign the exotic riders who have got
    lots of ranking points. We need to have nine million euros if we hope to have a competitive team,” he said.

    Madariaga revealed that team is considering a range of options, including a step down...

  • Vinokourov back in Langkawi after 15 years

    Alexandre Vinokourov (Astana)
    Article published:
    February 20, 2012, 15:34 GMT
    By:
    Cycling News

    Astana leader debuts 2012 season in Kuala Lumpur

    It's been 15 years but Alexander Vinokourov still remembers the first and last time he raced the Tour de Langkawi in 1997, as a member of the Kazakh national team. This week, the leader of the Astana squad is back in Kuala Lumpur to start his final season in the pro-ranks.

    Le Tour de Langkawi triggered Vinokourov's career as a professional bike rider, as it was during the 1997 event that the Kazakhstan caught the eye of Gilles Mas, directeur sportif at Casino, who brought him to the French team as a stagiaire in August that year. Vinokourov signed his first professional contract in 1998 with the squad directed by Vincent Lavenu.

    "It's fantastic to be here once again in my final year as a professional," Vinokourov told Biciciclismo. "I've always remembered my first time here in 1997 and I've always wanted to come back. But it was never included in my team's calendar, or suited to my race programme."

    The 38-year-old returns to racing after fracturing his femur in a crash at the 2011 Tour de France. He competed in the Chrono des Nations last October but to him, "This is the first big race since I crashed in the Tour de France last year and it will be a good start into the new season for me, to get back to full fitness before travelling to Europe for the Classics."

    Vinokourov is set to leave his mark on the race, together with his teammates Valentín Iglinskiy, Aleksandr Dyachenko, Assan Bazayev, Andrey Zeits and Dmitriy Gruzdev. "We have a strong team with the potential to win the general classification. My work here will be to help my teammates achieve the victory," he said.

    After Le Tour de Langkawi, Vinokourov is scheduled to compete in Italy at the Settimana Internazionale di Coppi e Bartali at...

  • First 'truly African team' set for Tour de Langkawi

    Adrien Niyonshuti
    Article published:
    February 20, 2012, 18:22 GMT
    By:
    Cycling News

    Van Niekerk and Janse van Rensburg lead team

    With the Tour de Langkawi boasting one of its strongest line-ups in recent years one might be forgiven in glossing over some of the so-called smaller teams, but the MTN-Qhubeka team posses some of the most exciting talents in the race, and have been dubbed the first 'truly African team' by their team manager.

    The race squad comprises of athletes from around the African continent, including four black African riders (Adrien Niyonshuti from Rwanda, and Jani Tewelde, Meron Russom and Tesfai Habtariam from Eritrea) and two South African riders (Jacques Janse van Rensburg and Dennis van Niekerk).

    Van Niekerk and Janse van Rensburg are no strangers to the race, with Van Niekerk finishing fourth overall in 2011 and Janse van Rensburg finishing sixth in 2009.

    Douglas Ryder, MTN-Qhubeka Team Principal, rode the Tour de Langkawi seven times as a member of the South African National Team, finishing fifth overall in 1996 and winning the KOM competition in 1998.

    "I have always enjoyed the people and the hardness of the event in which South African riders have always done well," said Ryder. "2012 sees the first truly African team participate, and with this event favouring the climbers, it will be great to see how our team will perform against one of the best fields ever assembled."

    The team will be looking for a strong performance in the GC, and will also be targeting the key mountain stage to Genting Highlands.

    "Janse van Rensberg, Niyonshuti and Van Niekerk are amongst Africa's best climbing talents," said the team coach, Dr Carol Austin.

    "They have been training hard over the past two months, and their SRM power data confirms their current form. Eritrian neo-pros Russom, Tewelde and Habetarium joined our team mid-January. They have rapidly adopted our team's high-tech training methods and their performances in hard, specific interval training sessions confirm their depth in conditioning. The Tour de Langkawi...

  • Caruso given back-dated suspension by CONI

    Damiano Caruso (Liquigas-Cannondale)
    Article published:
    February 20, 2012, 19:06 GMT
    By:
    Cycling News

    Andrenacci given two years for EPO

    24-year-old Italian Damiano Caruso is free to resume racing with Liquigas-Cannondale following a decision by the doping tribunal of the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) to give him a one-year back-dated suspension for a doping infraction. The case dates back to 2007, before he turned professional.

    The CONI also announced today it has suspended Danilo Andrenacci for two years. The 33-year-old Italian tested positive for recombinant EPO at the Trofeo Melinda-Val di Non on August 20, 2011 while racing for D'Angelo & Antenucci - Nippo. Andrenacci's ban runs through December 19, 2013.

    No details were given as to the doping infraction of Caruso. His ban was dated October 6, 2010 to October 5, 2011, disqualifying all of the results he earned while racing in his first season for the Liquigas-Cannondale team. The best result was a fourth overall in the Challenge Calabria last January.

    Caruso was punished for "complicity in the attempted acquisition of banned substances", an infraction dating to his time with the Mastromarco amateur team, the year prior to his victory in the U23 Italian road championships. He turned professional with LPR Brakes in 2009 based upon that result among others. He moved on to De Rosa-Stac Plastic before being signed by Liquigas-Cannondale for the 2011 season.

    "The disqualification has to be considered moderate compared to the request of the Italian Procura Antidoping, but Damiano is sure of his innocence and absolute non involvement and after reading the judgment and grounds for the decision," his agent's statement read. "He will immediately evaluate the possibility to appeal before the CAS, in order to delete also...

  • Special Breschel back in form

    Matti Breschel
    Article published:
    February 20, 2012, 19:55 GMT
    By:
    Daniel Benson

    Dane buiding up for Classics and injury free

    Matti Breschel is back on the bike and competing again after an injury stricken 2011. The Danish ride finished the Volta ao Algarve last week, picking up two top-ten placings and escaping into the key break on the penultimate stage.

    Although he admits he’s still not on top form, it’s a thoroughly different Breschel to the one that was hampered by a stop-start season last year.

    Breschel was signed by Rabobank last season to lead the Dutch team in the Spring Classics, but he ended up missing virtually the whole early part of the year with knee problems and subsequent surgery.

    He recovered in time for the Vuelta a Espana with an eye on competing at his home Worlds in Copenhagen, but a crash forced him to abandon in Spain after just week of racing. On top of that he had to undergo surgery on his hand, which subsequently ended his season.

    “It actually went better than expected and it was a long time since I did a stage race," Breschel told Cyclingnews about Algarve. "On the second last stage I spent the whole day in a breakaway and got some good training in and few placings before the big races start in the coming weeks.

    “2011 was a really difficult year but the team supported me 100 per cent and they were there for me. It wasn’t nice being injured. I couldn’t do anything but they supported me and they know what I’m worth and what I’m capable of.”

    His long road to recovery did take its toll. The lack of fitness and racing created a constant sense of frustration for the rider who at the start of 2010 looked on...

  • Brailsford nurtures shoots of growth as Great Britain march towards London Olympics

    Jess Varnish and Victoria Pendleton celebrate their team sprint win and world record
    Article published:
    February 20, 2012, 21:15 GMT
    By:
    Richard Moore

    Momentum building for home nation after World Cup display

    Last Wednesday evening, on the eve of the London World Cup in the new Olympic velodrome, Dave Brailsford met his British team and thanked them for their hard work during the winter.

    Six days later, on Tuesday, Brailsford and his coaching team will gather again, this time to review the weekend’s work. And the overall assessment, said British Cycling’s performance director, will be positive, after what he described as “the best performance across the board for a good couple of years."

    There were even some surprises. “You could see the green shoots of spring appearing during training,” said Brailsford. “Just little signs that we were moving forward.” But he hadn’t expected those shoots to burst into flower so early. “We’re a lot closer in some events than maybe we thought. We’re further ahead than we thought we would be.”

    Those events include the team pursuit, though Britain were beaten by an Australian team that posted the second fastest time in history. Despite the defeat, Brailsford singled it out as the most pleasing performance: “If you look at where we were at the Europeans [where they won gold ahead of Denmark], which wasn’t our best performance, they have made big strides forward. They have worked their socks off over the winter."

    Britain topped the medals table for the weekend with five golds, two silvers and a bronze. Of the ten Olympic events, they won medals in seven, including four golds. But there were gaps: after Victoria Pendleton and Jess Varnish won gold in the team sprint, both female sprinters failed to medal in their individual events, and Ben Swift never looked like challenging in the omnium, though Brailsford pointed out that the Team Sky rider “is not an omnium rider.” At the...

  • European stint final rite of passage for Morton's pro ambitions

    Lachlan Morton (Chipotle) looking pretty satisfied with his second place finish today
    Article published:
    February 21, 2012, 2:27 GMT
    By:
    Alex Hinds

    20-year-old disappointed to miss Langkawi, shifts focus to Colorado, L'Avenir

    After finishing sixth overall in his debut at the 2011 Tour de Langkawi, Lachlan Morton (Chipotle-First Solar) felt he had some unfinished business to settle when he made his planned return to the Malaysian race this year.

    The dream of a podium, or even arriving in Kuala Lumpur in the yellow jersey seemed not improbable for the 20-year-old, who Jonathan Vaughters has tipped as a future Tour de France winner. Claims that are not so farfetched when you consider he distanced Alpe d’Huez stage winner Pierre Rolland (Europcar) on the toughest climb of the 2011 race to Genting Highlands, and terrorised Francesco Mancebo in his successful stint in the US.

    But just months out from the Langkawi start, the race organisation received interest from the ProTeam, Garmin-Barracuda, and under the same UCI regulation that ruled out both Trek-Livestrong and Chipotle from last year’s USA Pro Cycling Challenge, Chipotle’s invitation was rescinded – forcing Morton to rewrite his plans for the 2012 season.

    "It was a blow for sure," Morton explained to Cyclingnews. "[Langkawi] was the race I was really looking forward to doing this year.

    "The team was disappointed, but I was really disappointed personally as well.

    "It’s a race I think is really well suited to me, with the altitude, and I was definitely looking forward to having a real crack this year."

    Perhaps the silver lining for the Australian is the prospect of racing in Europe, with Chipotle basing themselves out of Toulouse in...