- Article published:
- January 23, 2012, 14:02
- Cycling News
American team beef up their leadout
American outfit Garmin-Barracuda perfected their sprinting this weekend at their team camp in Calpe, Spain.
With Tyler Farrar gunning for a number of targets in 2012, including the Classics, green jersey at the Tour de France and the Olympic road race, the team has recruited a number of riders to beef-up his leadout train.
The experienced Robbie Hunter returns after a year with RadioShack, Koldo Fernandez joins from Euskaltel and Murilo Fischer has extended his stay with the team. Heinrich Haussler, currently in Australia, will also help Farrar, while also having his own chances.
The team has also brought in a sprint coach with a strong track pedigree to help propel them to glory. These photos from Lucas Gilman show the team hard at work, both in the sprints and out on the hills.
- Article published:
- January 23, 2012, 15:10
- Daniel Benson
British rider wants more support from UCI for women's cycling
Emma Pooley has called on both the UCI and the women's peloton to do more in a bid to grow women's cycling. The British Olympic champion was speaking after an uncertain period that saw her switch from Garmin-Cervelo to the Dutch squad AA Drink-Leontien.nl.
"It's all sorted now and I'm happy with the team," Pooley told Cyclingnews from her training base in Australia. "They're keen, they want me and they're into women's cycling. They're also organised and it's a good result in the end."
Pooley and the Cervelo women's team moved to the Slipstream organisation at the end of the 2010 season. However, financial constraints meant the team could not continue under the same conditions in 2012. There are rumours that Slipstreams Sports may be contractually sponsoring the AA Drink-Leontien.nl.
Pooley will centre her season around the London Olympic Games, where she will target the time trial and compete in the road race in support of GB's sprinters.
"The Olympics are key. I've planned my season to be at my peak but there's a lot of races on the way and I won't be upset if I win races before the Olympics, obviously. The Worlds look like they'll be on a super course, too, so that's at the back of my mind as well. The Olympics come around just once every four years and a home Olympics once in your lifetime, if you're lucky. We're going to have a super strong team and I'm really looking forward to it."
UCI should step up
Pooley is one of the most decorated riders in women's cycling but despite the sport's growth over the last few years, she believes that much more should be done to help develop women's racing.
Earlier this month Australian cyclist Chloe Hosking called the UCI President, Pat Mcquaid, 'a dick' leading to a controversial apology and a fine for the rider. McQuaid refused to comment on the story during a recent trip to the Tour Down Under.
"She put it quite bluntly but the UCI isn't there to just ride on the back of the men's sport, it's also there to encourage cycling and women's cycling, they should be encouraging it. You get a strong impression that it's run by an old boys club," Pooley told Cyclingnews.
Pooley did acknowledge that the entirety of the issue wasn't just something the UCI could solve, and called on the women's peloton to become united and petition the governing body in a way that didn't involve throwing insults.
"A lot of the problems are down to the fact that there isn't much representation at the UCI from women. I think the women's peloton needs to get together and petition hard for this because a few people like me are just told they're whinging about nothing. It's not my intention to whinge and I'm grateful for the chance to do my job but I do think it could be improved. The women need to get together and argue more strongly for more women's races at men's races, and more women's teams that can attract more sponsors.
"I might well agree [with Hosking] but I've not met him so I don't really know," she continued, alluding to Hosking's remark. "It's not about what the person is like though, it's about the proof that the organisation hasn't moved women's cycling further forward. I know I sound like a raving feminist but the thing I particularly care about is women's cycling because it's my job and frankly it's a bit depressing that year after year you see teams and riders disappearing. All the while you see the governing body regulating saddle angles and what colour overshoes you're allowed to wear. They could be doing more."
Last week the UCI published the list of women's teams registered for the 2012 season, and the Olympic year has yielded a net gain of seven squads for the coming season. Despite tough economic conditions women's cycling does show small shoots of growth, however it appears that without television broadcasting, it will lack the expansion that has seen women's tennis and soccer prosper.
"It's a hard climate," admitted Pooley. "I appreciate that but it's a lot less to run a women's team. You can do that on less than a quarter of what some men are on. Going on television is a big step in that TV time is worth so much to a sponsor. But the people who tell me women's cycling isn't as interesting because it's slower, well that's total bullshit. It's not the speed of cycling that makes it interesting it's the interaction of riders, the tactics. Our races are exciting to watch, not all of them but not all men's racing is."
- Article published:
- January 23, 2012, 16:30
- Cycling News
Saxo Bank rider still losing weight gained after the Tour de France
Alberto Contador may be the star of the show at the Tour of San Luis in Argentina, but don't expect him to claim the overall at the end of the race. The Spaniard says he is still losing the weight he put on after this year's Tour de France, and won't play a role in the overall rankings.
“It is difficult now to go up against such well-trained men as Levi Leipheimer and Vincenzo Nibali,” he told Het Nieuwsblad. Nibali, with Liquigas, won the race in 2010.
“After the Tour I did nothing,” Contador said. “I gained 7.5 kilograms. I have already lost four at the Saxo Bank training camp in Mallorca, but to be able to climb fast, you should be at your ideal weight. “
Still, Team Saxo Bank hoped to see him do well in the mountains,although the team is looking to brothers JJ and Sebastian Haedo to do well in the sprints in their homeland tour.
“We've put together a very versatile and powerful line-up. For the sprints we have both Haedo brothers and of course they're extremely motivated to perform on home ground and JJ seems very slim and focused,” said sports director Philippe Mauduit on the team's website.
“Even though it's early in the season, we can't hide the probability of seeing Alberto (Contador) do well on the climbs and on the time trial halfway through the race. Personally, I'm looking forward to be following our two debutants, Troels (Vinther) and Chris (Juul-Jensen) while Matteo (Tosatto) will be leading the battle on the road. The main goal is simply getting a stage win.”
The Tour of San Luis starts today and runs seven stages through January 29.
- Article published:
- January 23, 2012, 18:05
- Cycling News
Belgian hopeful to drive Greipel train again in Spring
Jürgen Roelandts, who fractured a cervical vertebra in a crash of the Tour Down Under stage 1, has said he was eager to take up training again as he returned to his Belgian home with his Lotto-Belisol teammates. Wearing a neck collar, Roelandts told Sporza that he did not feel any pain as long as he held his head in the right position.
"I don't take a lot of pain killers - that way, I'll feel it when I do a wrong movement," he said. "It's a 'clean' break, so six weeks of neck brace will be enough to make it heal completely. Hopefully, I will be able to get back on my bike a bit sooner than that, perhaps on the rollers. The I'll be able to get back to competition fast."
But Roelandts also admitted that he was aware of the seriousness of his injury. "Afterwards, you realise you've come close... The break is near the spine - I'm happy that I can still walk!"
With regard to his return to competition, the 27-year-old hopes that he will overcome the shock of his accident and that it will have no impact on his ability to lead out a sprint train for team captain Andre Greipel. "Greipel asked me about this, as he had problems with it after a severe crash," Roelandts said. "We'll have to wait and see how it'll be the first time I'm back in a sprint. This will only come in over two months time, but right now I think it'll turn out well."
- Article published:
- January 23, 2012, 20:00
- Pete Cossins
Another Spanish stage race in trouble due to budgetary cutbacks
Vuelta a Castilla y León race director José Luis López Cerrón has revealed that this year's race will be cut from five days to three due to a significant reduction in its budget. Speaking at the Tour de San Luis in Argentina, López Cerrón said that the final details of this year's schedule and route have yet to be confirmed with the race's principal backers, but explained that the three days are likely to focus on the cities of Salamanca, Ávila and Segovia.
Due to take place on April 11-15, the race has been one of the very few in Spain that has flourished in recent seasons. Thanks partly to the regular participation of Alberto Contador, some particularly supportive sponsors and extensive TV coverage, the race also appeared to have avoided the effects of Spain's ongoing economic crisis.
However, it now looks set to suffer the same fate as the Majorca Challenge and Vuelta a Murcia, which have had to sacrifice one day and two days of racing, respectively, due to budgetary constraints.
López Cerrón told the Spanish website Biciciclismo that the first stage of this year's race is likely to finish in Salamanca, where Movistar's Francisco Ventoso won the bunch finish last year. The main mountain stage will focus on either Ávila or Segovia, although there will not be a summit finish as there was last year when the late Xavier Tondo won the overall title.
The race director explained that he is investigating the possibility of having a split stage on the third and final day, comprising a short road stage in the morning and a time trial in the afternoon. He said he will be discussing this option with several teams during his stay in Argentina.
- Article published:
- January 24, 2012, 00:41
- Neil Browne
Tactical training on tap for young riders
The Garmin-Barracuda development team - Team Chipotle - gathered in Wimberely, Texas for its pre-season training camp. Surrounded by the Texas Hill Country, Wimberely offers some great training opportunities and is an area team director Chann McRae knows well calling it his "home roads". Also the local weather calls for warm temperatures - an added plus.
In addition to the standard long training rides, the development team is going to take part in some tactical training, otherwise known as a paintball fight. "We are going to have some military personal out there and we'll be dividing the team and seeing who can lead the squad and protect the leaders," said McRae.
The camp has a full agenda including three days of testing. "We're conducting threshold testing - the same test that the Garmin guys will be doing," explains McRae.
In addition, there's the usual bike fittings and new equipment that needs to be dialed in for each of the riders.
When BigMat pulled out in the 11th hour as a title sponsor, the financial fallout was significant. However, according to McRae, the development team wasn't affected.
"Our program is actually stronger than last year. I was able to still go out and recruit the best talent for the team," said McRae. "It's really important that when I scout and recruit for the team they will be WouldTour caliber within two to three years. I had the green light from JV (team manager Jonathan Vaughters) to do that. and that's what I did."
In an email, Vaughters clarified the development team's financial position saying that the squad was operating on a slightly smaller budget as they couldn't pull any funds from the men's WorldTour team.
"But we're blessed as it (the development squad) has its own proprietary sponsors which fund 100 percent of the budget now," wrote Vaughters.
When asked about who is developing to make the jump to a WorldTour team McRae won't name names, but states that he has four to five guys in his development stable that can progress to the next level in their cycling career.
To ensure that the development riders are being properly groomed for a WorldTour program the squad's race calendar has been changed in comparison to other years.
"We selected a lot of races in Europe - a lot of 2.2 events like Tour of Romandie, Circuit des Ardennes and U-23 Paris-Roubaix - balanced with some here in the US, but we're not looking to be at any races that the WorldTour team is at."
The reason is to teach these young riders the craft of racing a bike.
"I might have a rider who is an awesome climber, but he's never going to be good at the Tour de France if he can't be in a good position. So how do you do that?" said McRae. "You put them in races in Belgium and France and they'll be riding in the gutter, which makes them really comfortable with positioning. Once they have that dialed in, they'll be flying. He's going to hit the climb in the optimal position. If he's a good climber, but starts in 90th position, it won't matter."
So with the development riders entering prestigious races does the team have potential winners or are they riding for experience?
"We're not holding back and will be contending wherever we go. We have 15 guys so some will be stronger earlier in the season, others later, and we'll go off that rotation."
With a heavy European campaign the development team has a home base in Toulouse, France.
"There's really good training and racing in France. We can also just cross the border and race in Spain or travel to Belgium."
- Article published:
- January 24, 2012, 09:38
- Peter Hymas
Belgian plays key role in squad's first win of 2012
More than four months after a crash in the Vuelta a España put a premature end to Tom Boonen's 2011 season, the 31-year-old Belgian returned to racing in fine fashion at the Tour de San Luis's opening stage, playing a key role in the race finale for stage winner and teammate Francesco Chicchi.
Entering the final kilometres of a wet and wild 189.3km stage from San Luis to Villa Mercedes, featuring torrential rain, cold, and hail, a select 38-man group was all that remained at the head of affairs. Within this selection were five of Omega Pharma-Quick Step's six riders, working to set up Italian sprinter Chicchi for the win.
"It was very hard, Boonen told Cyclingnews. "We had only six guys and at the end we had only five guys, so it's not easy to control, especially with the wind and after a hard day. We had everything - rain, hail...
"In the last five or six kilometres it was just us trying to control the race – not easy, but controlled. A steady pace, but not pushing it every 500 metres – steady so we can arrive for the last kilometre."
With 1.5km to go, however, Boonen launched a dangerous solo attack which put sprint rival Team Saxo Bank on the defensive, interrupting their lead-out train for local favourite Juan Jose Haedo.
"At the end I had a turn alone at 1.5k for Chicchi," said Boonen. "I went alone and he stayed with the Saxo Bank guys behind me. He caught me back at 200m to go and he went and won it just barely by a few millimetres.
'Today we wanted to do everything possible for Francesco because he already won here two years ago. His best day is always the first day so we tried for him today."
Chicchi already had a stage win at the Tour de San Luis on his palmares thanks to his victory on the opening stage of the 2010 edition.
While the Belgian is no stranger to competing in nasty weather conditions, the extreme conditions which battered the peloton on the first day of racing in Argentina came as a surprise.
"The problem was everybody was expecting a really hot day so everybody had really light clothes on and when we crossed the top of the climb (the KOM at 41.3km) the temperature, the sensation, was about 3 degrees [Celsius]. It was unbelievable. Everybody was putting on their big jackets, everyone was freezing."
The KOM at La Cumbre was the highest elevation of the stage at 1,033m, and from there to the finish it was predominantly downhill.
"It was all the way [to the finish] a false flat descent so you didn't have to push, and then a really hard headwind plus hard, cold rain and hail.
"The drainage isn't so good here so when it rains the water just moves, but it doesn't really leave the streets and it's really slippery."
While the Belgian ProTour team has earned its first season of the victory, Boonen hopes to add to the squad's success at the Tour de San Luis by seeking his own chances.
"I will try it (finishing sprint) one day, I'm not sure which one, and maybe go in a breakaway. I for sure want to do one sprint here and for all the rest we want to do good work here, not skip any efforts.
"After that we go to Qatar and it starts to get a little bit more interesting for me."
- Article published:
- January 24, 2012, 10:29
- Cycling News
Italian still weighing up his stage racing options for 2012
Michele Scarponi (Lampre-ISD) has yet to decide if he will ride the Giro d’Italia or the Tour de France in 2012, but he has ruled out the possibility of lining up at both races. The Italian cited Alberto Contador’s travails at last year’s Tour as proof of the difficulty of being competitive in back-to-back Grand Tours.
“The question of the choice between the Giro d’Italia and the Tour de France remains open, I’m reflecting on it,” Scarponi told Gazzetta dello Sport. “I was pleased that the sponsors have given me carte blanche to evaluate my options. What I can say already is that my preparation is based on being at the start of only one of those races.
“Besides, it must mean something if even a champion like my friend Contador has reached the conclusion that doubling up at the Giro and Tour is hardly feasible.”
Scarponi and Contador were teammates at Liberty Seguros in 2005 and 2006, prior to Scarponi’s suspension for his implication in Operacion Puerto.
In spite of his fine run of form in the spring of 2011, Scarponi surprisingly opted to forgo the Ardennes classics in order to concentrate on his Giro preparation. This time around, he is set to make the late April classics a major target of his early season, along with Tirreno-Adriatico, where he is a perennial challenger.
“At the moment I’m working hard with the team at our camp, and my training is pitched at being competitive at Tirreno-Adriatico and in the Ardennes,” Scarponi said.
Although he turned 32 in September, Scarponi is determined to be a part of the Lampre-ISD set-up for years to come, after joining the team from Androni Giocattoli at the beginning of 2010. “I feel good in this team, and in the years to come I’d like to be a point of reference for Lampre-ISD,” he said. “Along with the management, I’m laying the foundations so that this can happen.”
Scarponi’s Lampre-ISD stablemate Damiano Cunego is also at the team’s training camp at San Vincenzo on the Tuscan coast. He will begin his season at the Giro della Provincia di Reggio Calabria on February 11, but has also been working on his time trialling.
“It’s been interesting to have the chance to train on the time trial bike,” he said. “Finding the right balance between position and power is very important, so for that reason I’m happy that I’ve been able to have the TT bike at home, too.”