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First Edition Cycling News, Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Date published:
January 17, 2012, 0:00 GMT
  • Video: Boonen is sure he can win a Classic

    Tom Boonen
    Article published:
    January 16, 2012, 18:14 GMT
    Barry Ryan

    Belgian hails new approach at Omega Pharma-Quick Step

    There may be a new sponsor and a renewed emphasis on stage racing, but it was business as usual for Tom Boonen as the Omega Pharma-Quick Step team was launched in Vilvoorde on Friday. No sooner had the curtain fallen on the presentation than the local media swept past Tony Martin, Sylvain Chavanel et al and descended upon their man, eager to talk classics.

    Following that lengthy Flemish inquisition, Boonen then had to repeat the ordeal for the foreign press. After shaking hands with his new batch of interviewers, the amiable Belgian explained that at this stage he is well used to the vagaries of living in the spotlight in one of cycling’s true heartlands, even if that has hardly made the criticism he has faced in recent seasons any more palatable.

    “I’m not a guy that really reads the Belgian press. I think I’m pretty experienced in that regard, but if I read it, it still hurts me, so I don’t read it,” Boonen said. “I know my weaknesses and I know my strengths and I don’t have to read it because it still hurts me. Everybody has to earn a living and the Belgian press is sometimes pretty critical. The Belgian public is pretty critical too, but I think it’s up to me right now for myself to be back on the level I was before. I mean, I’m only 31, so I think I have a few good years left.”

    Although Boonen captured Gent-Wevelgem last season, it’s no secret that he has fallen short of his usual standards in the Classics over the past two years, as he suffered from the effects of a persistent knee injury. In theory, surgery at the end of 2010 ought to have put the problem to rights, but in practice, Boonen needed another year to build the muscles in his leg back up again.

  • Belgian selection for Cross Worlds announced

    The elite men's podium: Niels Albert, Sven Nys and Rob Peeters
    Article published:
    January 16, 2012, 19:50 GMT
    Cycling News

    National coach De Bie snubs Nys' teammate Vanthourenhout

    The Belgian cycling federation has released the names of the seven riders that will represent the country at the upcoming UCI Cyclo-Cross Worlds in Koksijde, on January 29. National coach Rudy De Bie selected Sven Nys, Niels Albert, Kevin Pauwels, Klaas Vantornout, Rob Peeters, Bart Aernouts and Tom Meeusen.

    Sven Vanthourenhout, Nys' teammate at Landbouwkrediet, was not selected even though Nys had explicitly asked for his integration in the Worlds team. "At the Worlds, less competitive riders will be dropped anyway as soon as the favourites accelerate,' De Bie told Sportwereld. "Rob Peeters has proved at the most recent races that he deserves to be in the selection."

    Peeters finished third-placed at the Belgian Championships where Nys reclaimed his title, and teammate Vanthourenhout got fourth.

  • Gallery: Katusha's new red army advance on Spain

    The Red Army advance on Mallorca
    Article published:
    January 16, 2012, 21:07 GMT
    Cycling News

    Russian team training in Mallorca

    "We're like a new team," declared Denis Galimzyanov as he sat down with Cyclingnews on a rare rest day at the Team Katusha camp in Mallorca, Spain.

    The powerhouse sprinter may well have a point. After three years Katusha's Andre Tchmil handed over the reins to German school teacher Hans-Michael Holczer, the man who led Gerolsteiner until their demise. Holczer has drafted in new blood both on the athlete side as well as the management, handing picking a number of former colleagues as well as cherry picking the likes of Michael Rich and Torsten Schmidt.  Valerio Piva, from HTC, was added earlier by Tchmil and the new structure has apparently improved spirits within the Russian team.

    Galimzyanov was keen to stress that Tchmil had done much for his career, but pointed to elements of organisation and equipment that had let the team down in previous years. Holczer refrained from pointing holes in the previous system but told Cyclingnews that he had overseen an overhaul of the old structure, and brought in a number of new elements, including a long-term partnership with Canyon.

    See a photo gallery from the team training camp.

  • Landbouwkrediet adds Euphony for 2012

    Frédéric Amorison and Bert De Waele model the 2012 Landbouwkrediet-Eupohny kit
    Article published:
    January 16, 2012, 21:48 GMT
    Cycling News

    Belgain ProContinental team adds name co-sponsor

    Team Landbouwkrediet will be known as Landbouwkrediet-Euphony as of this year. The team announced the  Belgian telecommunications and energy firm,w hich already sponsors teams in other sports, as its co-title partner today.

    With Landbouwkrediet planning to gradually phase out of sponsorship after 12 years, “it was necessary to find a new partner interested in investing in the world of cycling,” the team said on its website.

    The new name co-sponsor “now allows to ensure the continuity of the Professional Continental team in 2013 and even a glimpse of longer horizons.”

    Euphony already sponsors Racing Genk, the current Belgian football champion, and Euphony Asse-Zellik volleyball team.

    "The collaboration with Landbouwkrediet is an opportunity to broaden our horizons," Frank Van de Wege, Managing Director at Euphony, told Sportwereld. "Landbouwkrediet is a team with great ambition and potential, focusing on the Benelux, as does Euphony. The presence of the team on the road and in cyclo-cross is a perfect combination for us. We are confident that this collaboration will be a successful trip. "

  • Video: Tour Down Under still popular without Armstrong

    Race director Mike Turtur.
    Article published:
    January 16, 2012, 22:30 GMT
    Alex Hinds

    Race director Turtur says challenges lie ahead for Oceania calendar

    The Tour Down Under has grown over the past 14 years from a small regional race to a steadfast part of the WorldTour calendar, race director Mike Turtur can’t help but be pleased to reflect on the event’s history.

    Over the last three editions, an association with seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong helped to increase the race's popularity, and even after Armstrong's retirement, Turtur still sees value in the still undisclosed investment in his appearance fees.

    "It was the deal of a lifetime," said Turtur to Cyclingnews. "There’s speculation about fees and everything else, but the fees were nowhere near what was being reported.

    "The value we got out of having him was amazing. He wasn’t just here for the race; he had a lot of involvement throughout the South Australian community."

    And whatever the allegations that have dogged Armstrong – particularly in the last 12 months with respect to his FDA investigation there is no doubt that the American boosted the race’s profile in the community. Last year the estimated economic impact was over $43 million, and record crowds attended the events six stages. The big question was whether without Armstrong the race could retain its current status. Turtur is adamant that it has.

    "I think the best early gauge is the registrations for the Bupa Challenge Tour, and though we expected those to fall this year, the numbers have in fact remained steady.”

    Turtur puts that down to the race’s new race route which he argues has given a wider range of riders the chance to compete for overall honours. Combine that with the increasing focus on WorldTour points and you have arguably the best field the race has seen it’s now 14 year history.

    "I think when the list started to come in it was...

  • Cyclingnews daily trivia for the Santos Tour Down Under

    Adelaide, Australia hosted the Down Under Classic.
    Article published:
    January 16, 2012, 23:00 GMT
    Cycling News

    Each day a chance to win a pair of Bont's top of the range Vapour Shoes

    Tune into Cyclingnews' live coverage of the Santos Tour Down Under for a chance to win a pair of Bont's top of the range Vapour Shoes.

    All you have to do is follow our live coverage during each stage. We’ll post a question during the stage and you can answer it on Twitter with the hashtag #cyclingnewstdu and we’ll pick a winner at random.

    The winner will be able to customise their colours too. Still here? Head over to our live coverage now to be in with a chance of wining.

    Live coverage for stage 1 of the Tour Down Under begins at 11 AM local time in Adelaide.

  • Gallery: UnitedHealthcare train on track for 2012 success

    Boy Van Poppel comes back to the team for another season.
    Article published:
    January 16, 2012, 23:35 GMT
    Laura Weislo

    Steady growth could yield Vuelta start

    The UnitedHealthcare team has been dubbed "the blue train" by race announcers for its well-drilled lead-outs, but the locomotive analogy holds true in a number of other ways, as Cyclingnews found out at the squad's 2012 "sponsor summit" and team camp in Palm Springs, California last week.

    While the riders lined up in front of sprinters like Jake Keough and Robert Förster on the last lap of a criterium may be likened to high speed rail, the team's business model as described by general manager Mike Tamayo is more like a fully loaded freighter - slow, steady and careful.

    "We're the steady team - we will be for the next three years," Tamayo told Cyclingnews. "We're the team that's going to continue to grow year after year, and we like to do things methodically. We'll take our time and conquer our current level, and then tackle the next."

    While other Professional Continental squads battle for invitations to the Giro d'Italia and Tour de France, Tamayo is more cautions in his approach to attaining Grand Tour status, aiming at the Vuelta a España for UnitedHealthcare's first experience at that level.

    "I think the Vuelta is a race that suits us well. Individually we've had riders who have had success there - who have been top 10 and won stages, we have riders who can sprint and climb at that level and race at the GC level. Now it's a matter of giving them the support and tools to do it again."

    With newcomers Jason McCartney and Philip Deignan in addition to Förster, the squad now has three riders who have won stages at the Vuelta, and Deignan placed ninth overall there in 2009 when racing for the Cervélo TestTeam. UHC has also added WorldTour experience in the form of Jeff Louder (BMC), Marc De Maar...

  • Video: Tim Roe on sitting out his home race with injury

    Roe (BMC) is building toward a return in the early spring.
    Article published:
    January 17, 2012, 4:06 GMT
    Alex Hinds

    Plan to miss Tour Down Under "better" for rider's long term future

    Tim Roe (BMC) is sitting out this year's Tour Down Under in the hope that he'll be fully recovered from a hip injury that plagued his 2011 season. The Australian rode his first year in the prestigious WorldTour with the team last season but struggled to adjust to the higher level of racing.

    "You go from being one of the best climbers at the under 23 level to one of the first guys to get dropped," said Roe. "It’s all a lot harder, and I think I’ve learned that lesson now. Hopefully I can just concentrate on riding the bike now."

    Despite the injury, Roe also insists that he's feeling considerably stronger this year, and hopes to be competing again in the near future.

    "I definitely feel a lot stronger now, you adapt to the competition, your body adjusts and you improve," said Roe.

    "When I wasn’t making the progress I wanted to be making in December I told the guys maybe it’s better that I don’t do the Tour Down Under. I know a lot of riders say that riding the Tour Down Under can be hard."

    Roe next heads to Europe for a training camp with his BMC teammates.

    For the full interview see below.