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First Edition Cycling News, Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Date published:
January 03, 2012, 0:00 GMT
  • Riis expects more from Saxo Bank in 2012

    Bjarne Riis and Alberto Contador are all smiles after the jump
    Article published:
    January 02, 2012, 11:05 GMT
    Cycling News

    Riders need to be more aggressive and bring in more wins

    Bjarne Riis expects more from his team in 2012. Although the Saxo Bank boss was “generally” satisfied with his team in 2011, he said that upon occasion “I would have liked a little more.”

    It was not a bad year for the Danish team, as Alberto Contador won the Giro d'Italia, Nick Nuyens took the Tour of Flanders and JJ Haedo won a stage at the Vuelta a Espana. Still, the team had only 18 wins on the year, fourth fewest of the ProTour teams.

    “Generally, I want to have more results. Generally, I have been pleased with the fine season, but there have been situations where I would have liked a little more,” he told the Ritzau news agency.

    For 2012, “I want more aggression. I want them to go out to die with their shoes on. Here I am talking not about the sprinters, but generally all of them together, for now we just fight a little more for it.”

    It may well in fact be a make-or-break year for some riders. Some are in the grey zone, “and if they want to proceed with their careers, they must deliver something,” he said,w without naming names.

    For the team as a whole, “Either they must be indispensable domestiques, or they have to go out and deliver results now and then. In each case, they must go out and try.

    “That its the spirit I would like to see a little more. It's not that I've been out with my finger pointing, but there have been instances where I think they should give a little more effort.”

    One rider who was named was sprinter Haedo, whose victory on a crash-marred...

  • Acqua & Sapone to race on Focus bikes in 2012

    Stefano Garzelli (Acqua & Sapone) won the mountains classification.
    Article published:
    January 02, 2012, 13:26 GMT
    Cycling News

    German manufacturer becomes official equipment provider to Italian squad

    Starting 2012, Professional Continental team Acqua & Sapone will be supported by bike manufacturer Focus as technical sponsor. The German brand has changed contracts as it moves from Team Katusha to the Italian outfit.

    "Unfortunately we had different views on the strategy for the team and its implementation with the races," explained Herwig Reus, Global Sport Sponsoring Focus Bikes. "The riders were convinced by the equipment - eventually two ex-Katusha riders wanted to introduce Focus to their new teams as technical supplier."

    Eventually, Focus found a new partner in Acqua & Sapone. "Being a Premium Brand, it is for us very important to have an ongoing cooperation with leading professional teams in order to use their professional feedback for the development of our products - following our motto: by professionals for professionals," Reus continued to explain.

    Focus and its partners have provided the Italian outfit with a special edition of the Izalco race series. Acqua & Sapone and its team leaders Stefano Garzelli and Danilo Di Luca are aiming to chase success in the season opening classics such as Milan-San Remo or the Tour of Flanders, followed by the highlight of the season, the Giro d'Italia.

  • Gallery: Omega Pharma – Quick-Step riders in their new kit

    Levi Leipheimer
    Article published:
    January 02, 2012, 17:32 GMT
    Cycling News

    Leipheimer, Martin and Boonen

    The jersey may have been unveiled last month but Omega Pharma – Quick-Step has now shown off their new signings for the first time in 2012. Due to contracts between athletes and their 2011 teams, riders are forbidden from being pictured in their new kit or using their new bikes before a January 1st embargo.

    With that date past, the Belgian team has used the opportunity to show off their new signings, including Levi Leipheimer, Tony Martin and the Velits brothers, as well as stalwarts Tom Boonen and Sylvain Chavanel.

    The team heads into 2012 with lofty ambitions. At last month’s presentation in Belgium its owner Zdenek Bakala set his sights on steering them to the world number one spot within a few years.

  • Hosking to apologize for remarks to McQuaid

    Chloe Hosking working hard to reel in the break.
    Article published:
    January 02, 2012, 21:59 GMT
    Cycling News

    Australian sticks to message about women's cycling

    Specialized-Lululemon's Chloe Hosking is working on an official apology to UCI President Pat McQuaid after remarks she made on Saturday upon winning the opening stage of the Jayco Bay Classic.

    Upset over a lack of UCI support for women's cycling, Hosking had said, "What can you say, Pat McQuaid is a d**k." She was particularly frustrated by a lack of a minimum wage for elite female road racers.

    "I have to apologise for how I phrased my comments, I wasn't that eloquent," said Hosking in a subsequent statement to reporters post-race in Geelong.

    "Women's cycling every year is getting stronger and stronger," Hosking said. "It needs to get more recognition and I'm not going to apologise for what I said, but I do apologise for how I said it."

    While neither the UCI nor McQuaid has issued an official response, Cycling Australia was unhappy about Hosking's words.

    "All our members have the right to express views contrary to those of the UCI, but it is not acceptable for any member of Cycling Australia to personally denigrate others."

    The federation further suggested that her comment about McQuaid would not help women's cycling and implored all involved parties to treat each other with respect.

  • Ewan's meteoric rise continues at Jayco Bay Cycling Classic

    NSWIS rider, 17-year-old Caleb Ewan takes the win at Eastern Park
    Article published:
    January 03, 2012, 0:00 GMT
    Jane Aubrey

    Debutant overcomes nerves to triumph in Geelong

    Caleb Ewan's week at the Jayco Bay Cycling Classic didn't get off to the greatest of starts, but he made up for it pretty quickly by blasting to a stage 2 victory at Eastern Park on Monday. The 2012 event marks his debut at the season opener, so he could be forgiven for any pre-race nerves.

    "I turned up to the airport without my shoes and helmet which are probably the most important things," the 17-year-old laughed following the win. "I'd packed them in my carry-on bag which is what I normally do but I just completely forgot that. Mum and Dad got back home in time to bring it back to the airport."

    The NSWIS rider went on the attack from the outset during Sunday's first stage, making sure he was at the front of the bunch and then joining a six-man breakaway among the likes of Baden Cooke (Mitchelton Wines – Lowe Farms) – 15-years his senior. His theory was a smart one, getting caught at the back of the bunch was not ideal on the tight hotdog-style circuit, because once you were down the back, you'd be hard-pressed to work your way back to the front. He stuck with the break for a few laps before launching a daring solo attack. Ewan was in Geelong to race.

    When it came to Stage 2, Ewan was again in the day's break but on the last lap of the 1.8 kilometre course, was not pleased with where he sat but knew he was flying under the radar of his 12 opponents.

    "I probably wasn't being looked at as much as some of the bigger guys," Ewan admitted. "On the last lap I got pushed right to the back and I sort of thought, ‘what am I going to do from here' but I found my way to the front on the uphill bit and found myself on the right wheel and then came around in the sprint."

    That wheel...

  • Movistar to bring Valverde and Rojas to Santos Tour Down Under

    Alejandro Valverde salutes from the podium in a soggy Sion.
    Article published:
    January 03, 2012, 2:00 GMT
    Cycling News

    Returning Spaniard a dark horse on re-styled Old Willunga finish

    Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) will kick off his 2012 season in the opening WorldTour event on the calendar, the Santos Tour Down Under in Adelaide, Australia.

    The Spaniard hasn't raced since his two-year doping suspension enforced by the Court of Arbitration for Sport began on May 31, 2010. Valverde won the 2009 Vuelta a Espana, but is perhaps best known for his ability as a Classics rider.

    With the Tour Down Under boasting an uphill finish for the first time in it's 14-year history, the race may prove the perfect platform for the Spaniard to make his long awaited return - and so thinks race director Mike Turtur.

    "I believe Valverde is one of the favourites for the 2012 race. The experience he had here when he last raced in 2010, will have him well placed to be a big threat to take out the overall win," said Turtur.

    "The Old Willunga Hill and Stirling finishes suit Valverde’s style of racing so we expect him to ride well."

    Valverde may however prove a distraction to the constantly improving Jose Joaquin Rojas. Rojas featured heavily at this year's Tour de France, along with taking out the Spanish National championships in June, which earned him the easily recognisable red and yellow strip.

    "Jose Joaquin Rojas was impressive here in 2009, winning the Cycle Instead Young Rider Jersey and finishing third in the GC. I think Rojas will certainly be one to watch in 2012," said Turtur.

    "Movistar is bringing a very strong team with them to Adelaide. After winning the Brilliant Blend Teams Classification at the 2011 race, I am sure they will again put in a competitive performance. With the likes of Valverde, Gutierrez and Rojas it’s got the calibre of a Grand Tour team," added Turtur.

  • Duarte aiming for Giro return with Colombia-Coldeportes

    Fabio Duarte on the stationary bike.
    Article published:
    January 03, 2012, 3:00 GMT
    Alex Hinds

    Former under 23 world champion believes team justifies a wild card from Aquarone

    Fabio Duarte has called on Giro d’Italia director Michele Acquarone to give Colombia-Coldeportes a chance and invite the team to the 2012 race, with the Colombian confident his team can perform if they are invited to the Italian Grand Tour.

    "The most important objective for next year for me will be the Giro. I think I have lots possibilities there, and it’s well suited to my own characteristics as a rider.

    "But for now the most important thing is that we get invited - to any of the Grand Tours. I’m confident we can do really well, but we need to be there," Duarte told Cyclingnews.

    Duarte came close to a stage win in the 2011 edition of the race on stage 5 when he led home a select group of favourites to take second place behind Pieter Weening. A knee injury derailed much of his 2011 season, but a happier and re-invigorated Duarte now riding for a home team says he’s ready to live up to the potential that saw him win the under 23 world championship in Varese in 2008.

    "I had other offers for this year," said Duarte. "Some for more money, - but I decided to come back to Colombia. As a youngster I was inspired by guys like Lucho Herrera. I knew they did well because they were representing Colombia first and foremost.

    "I think Colombians are best when we're together. We have to come along way to compete in Europe. Often it's hard for guys to fit it, to adapt to the climate, the culture.

    "When Claudio Corti got in contact with me to ride with this new project, it seemed like a perfect opportunity to put Colombia back on the map."

    The Colombian added that the project was different than previous attempts by Colombian investors to form teams because it would be based solely in...

  • Saur-Sojasun ready for more World Tour races

    Article published:
    January 03, 2012, 9:54 GMT
    Cycling News

    Team manager Heulot wants to expand race calendar in 2012

    French Professional Continental team Saur-Sojasun has applied for an increased number of race invitations to World Tour events in 2012. Team manager Stéphane Heulot explained that it was necessary to participate in as many top level races as possible for his riders to fine-tune their abilities.

    "We want to do a lot of World Tour races and expand our programme," Heulot told Velochrono. "We realized that by participating and shining in the World Tour, we made progress and developed our riders - especially a solid group like ours. Even if, at one point, we'll have to sign other riders to step up, we can already make our riders grow without looking somewhere else."

    On top of the obvious World Tour events organised by French group ASO, the squad has sent wildcard applications to all the races organised by Italian company RCS (Tirreno-Adriatico, Milan-Sanremo, Giro di Lombardia and Giro d'Italia), as well as to the organisers of the Tour de Romandie, Tour de Suisse, Vuelta a Cataluna and the two Canadian Classics.

    "Those are the races that correspond to our capacities. We don't want to participate just for participating: we're asking for invites that are coherent with our means," he added.

    Heulot was generally satisfied with the outcome of the team in 2011, and hopes that an increased number of World Tour races will make his riders more competitive. Nevertheless, he complained that the current system of race entry attribution was unfair to the Professional Continental teams on a financial level.

    "Today, the Professional Continental teams are the poor relations of the system," Heulot said. "It comes down to the team that will sell itself the best, that will accept to travel at its own expense, etc. Unfortunately, it's come to this, and we have to accept it if we...