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First Edition Cycling News, Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Date published:
June 26, 2012, 1:00 BST
  • Boonen delighted with national championship jersey

    Tom Boonen in his national champion's jersey
    Article published:
    June 25, 2012, 15:41 BST
    Cycling News

    Olympic gold next goal for the Belgian

    By taking the Belgian road race championship, Tom Boonen has once again confirmed that he is back to former glory after two relatively difficult seasons. The Omega Pharma-QuickStep star already won the tricolor jersey in 2009, but pulling it back over his shoulders last Sunday in Geel was an enormous satisfaction.

    "This was a real goal, I am overjoyed," he told Sportwereld. "The Belgian champion's jersey is still a highly respected one in the peloton. Each life has its ups and downs. Now, I have my share of bad luck behind me. This year, it's going good. I have to try and harvest the fruit of my hard work and aim at the last targets of this year."

    After having scored four Classics this spring, including the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix, Boonen is on a career-high and hopes to stretch his good fortune to the London Olympics. Having chosen not to race the Tour de France, he will fine-tune his form at the Tour of Poland.

    "Now, I already have a jersey and I can prepare for the Olympic Games without pressure. I still have to get a tad better as the Games will be more difficult, racing against Mark Cavendish. His Team Sky has been brought to life with the sole purpose of the London Olympics. But I'm on schedule. I expect to be in top shape there," Boonen said.

  • Boasson Hagen overcomes double puncture to take first Norwegian road title

    Edvald Boasson Hagen celebrates victory in the road race while Sky teammate Lars Petter Nordhaug earns the silver medal.
    Article published:
    June 25, 2012, 16:42 BST
    Cycling News

    Sky teammate Nordhaug second in the race

    Edvald Boasson Hagen won his first Norwegian road championship Sunday, despite a double puncture with only two and a half laps of the circuit course to go. The Sky Procycling rider is now looking forward to sporting his country's national kit in the Tour de France, which starts on Saturday.

    “It was not optimal with a double puncture,” he told “I had a flat and uncontrolled oscillation. Luckily I managed to stay on my wheels and not crash. It was a bit critical, but fortunately the field was calm and it went well.”

    With 24km to go, his Sky teammate Lars Petter Nordhaug attacked and passed the two riders who were in the lead. Shortly thereafter, Boasson Hagen joined him and two increased their lead to the end. The duo “smiled and laughed to the end,” and in the end it was Boasson Hagen “who was allowed to take the victory,” reported.

    Ironically, Nordhaug had beaten Boasson Hagen for the national road title in 2006. This was Boasson Hagen's first road title, although he has won the time trial title every year from 2006 to 2011. He finished second in that race this year.

    The victory was “really fun” the 25-year-old said, and “It will be fun to go the Tour now.

    “It's always fun to ride in the Norwegian colours. Being able to show off the jersey on tv and in France will be fun.”

    But also, Boasson Hagen said, “it is always important to win and bring in as many wins as you can.  It is important to be able to go to the Tour de France and know that your form is in place.”

  • 2013 Giro d'Italia to start in Naples

    Stage 20 started on the Napoli waterfront.
    Article published:
    June 25, 2012, 17:00 BST
    Cycling News

    Route of opening stage still to be decided

    The 2013 Giro d’Italia will start in Naples on May 4, although RCS Sport has yet to decide if the race will begin with a time trial or a road stage. It will be the Giro’s first stage finish in Naples since 1996 and the first time in fifty years that the race has started in the city.

    “We still have to conclude the definitive version of the route, so for this reason we can’t yet reveal if the first stage will be a time trial or a road stage,” race director Michele Acquarone said at a press conference in Milan on Monday, according to Gazzetta dello Sport.

    In spite of earlier rumours that the start might take place on the island of Ischia in the Gulf of Naples, the Giro will instead begin in the streets of the city, at Piazza Vittoria. The stage will take in the Chiaia, Mergellina and Posillipo quarters of the city before reaching the spectacular finish line at the Lungomare Caracciolo along the seafront.

    The previous day's teams presentation will take place in the historic Piazza del Plebiscito in the centre of Naples. There also be a scenic setting for the favourites' press conference on the Thursday before the race - Castel dell'Ovo, a castle on the islet of Megaride, which is connected to Naples by a short causeway.

    2012 saw the most northerly start in the Giro’s history, at Herning in Denmark, which meant that the race could pay only the most fleeting of visits to southern Italy. While organisers had faced some criticism for neglecting the south in recent years, Acquarone explained that it was not a deliberate policy.

    “The Giro has never left the south,” he said. “There...

  • Taaramae and Moncoutié lead Cofidis at Tour de France

    The mercurial David Moncoutie (Cofidis).
    Article published:
    June 25, 2012, 18:35 BST
    Cycling News

    Team in search of first stage win since 2008

    White jersey hopeful Rein Taaramae and veteran David Moncoutié will lead the Cofidis line-up at the Tour de France, the team announced on Monday. The mercurial Remi Di Gregorio and the punchy Samuel Dumoulin are also part of a team that is searching for its first Tour stage victory since 2008.

    Taaramae finished the Tour in 11th place last season, narrowly missing out on winning the best young rider classification. The Estonian talent went on to take a stage victory at the Vuelta a España and warmed up for the Tour by capturing his national time trial title last week.

    Moncoutié suggested last July that he had ridden his final Tour de France but the 37-year-old has been persuaded to line up at La Grande Boucle once again in 2012. Twice a stage winner, in 2004 and 2005, Moncoutié was overpowered by a rampant Thor Hushovd at Lourdes. In recent years, he has enjoyed greater success south of the Pyrenees, winning a stage and the mountains classification in the Vuelta for the past four seasons.

    The team is completed by Nicolas Edet, Julien Fouchard, Jan Ghyselinck, Luis Angel Mate and Romain Zingle.

    Although Cofidis recently confirmed its commitment to continue sponsorship through to the end of 2016, the team enters the race in need of significant results after a below-par opening half to the season.

    La Voix du Nord last week reported that manager Éric Boyer’s position was under threat following a meeting with Cofidis Compétition president Thierry Vittu. The squad has just five victories in total thus far in 2012.

    Cofidis team for the Tour de France: David Moncoutié, Rein Taaramae, Remi Di Grégorio, Samuel Dumoulin, Nicolas Edet,...

  • German federation announces men's Olympic road team

    Stage 2 winner Andre Greipel (Lotto Belisol)
    Article published:
    June 25, 2012, 19:30 BST
    Cycling News

    Additional track sprinter nominated through mountain bike category

    The German cycling federation BDR has announced its five-rider selection for the Olympic road race taking place on Saturday, July 28. Top sprinter André Greipel (Lotto-Belisol) will have four lead-out men at his disposal in his bid to take an Olympic medal: fellow sprinter John Degenkolb (Argos-Shimano) plus Bert Grabsch (Omega Pharma Quick Step), Tony Martin (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) and Marcel Sieberg (Lotto-Belisol). BMC's Marcus Burghardt is the team's reserve man, and Martin and Grabsch will also be scheduled to race the time trial event.

    At his own wish, Argos-Shimano sprinter Marcel Kittel was not available for the Olympic road race team as he intends to fully concentrate on the Tour de France, which he wants to complete.

    The BDR has announced that it has also nominated track rider Robert Förstemann for the Olympic track events, by adding him into the mountain bike team. The three-man men's mountain bike roster included only Moritz Milatz and Manuel Fumic, and it is possible to nominate non-mountain bikers to the category as there are no special qualifying criteria applied. This way, Förstemann will join his three track sprint teammates René Enders, Maximilian Levy and Stefan Nimke in their bid for Olympic glory.

    "The possibility of making him compete increases our medal chances significantly," German team director Patrick Moster said.

  • Voeckler set to ride Tour de France

    Article published:
    June 25, 2012, 20:53 BST
    Cycling News

    Charteau not included in Europcar squad

    Europcar has named its line-up for the Tour de France, putting to rest speculation that Thomas Voeckler might be forced to forgo the race due to the effects of a nagging knee injury.

    Voeckler abandoned both the Critérium du Dauphiné and the Route du Sud in June citing an inflammation of his right knee, but the former yellow jersey wearer has been included in Europcar’s nine-man Tour selection. He spent a week off the bike following his withdrawal from the Route du Sud and only got back into the saddle on Monday morning.

    Fourth place in Paris twelve months ago, Voeckler told L’Équipe last week that he would be hard-pressed to repeat the feat in 2012 given his troubled final approach to the Tour. “If I have the fortune to be at the start, I’m afraid that it mightn’t be a Tour like the others,” he said.

    Flanking Voeckler at the head of Jean-René Bernaudeau’s team is Pierre Rolland. Best young rider in 2011, the Frenchman enjoyed a solid start to the campaign at Étoile des Bessèges but was still searching for his best form at the Dauphiné. Like Voeckler, Rolland suffered from a knee injury earlier in the season, which ruled him out of Paris-Nice.

    Europcar impressed during its ten-day defence of Voeckler’s maillot jaune last July, and the promising Cyril Gautier will again feature in the squad this time around, as will Christophe Kern, who was forced out with a knee injury after five stages in 2011.

    Giovanni Bernaudeau makes his Tour de France debut, while Yukiya Arashiro, Yohann Gène, Vincent Jérôme and new signing Davide Malacarne are also included in the final selection. Alexandre Pichot and David Veilleux are...

  • Movistar announce Tour de France team

    Movistar protected overall leader Rui Costa
    Article published:
    June 26, 2012, 0:11 BST
    Cycling News

    Valverde to lead in his comeback grand tour

    Movistar has announced their Tour de France line-up with Alejandro Valverde set to lead the Spanish squad in his first grand tour since his comeback from a two-year suspension. Recently crowned Spanish road champion, Fransisco Ventoso will miss out on starting his sixth Tour as the team looks to secure a high-place result in Paris with Valverde.

    It will be a true test for the former Vuelta a Espana winner who has already shown promising signs this season when he came close to besting Australia's Simon Gerrans (Orica – GreenEdge) at the Tour Down Under in January. Valverde won the 'hilltop' finish in Willunga before going on to claim second-place overall – on the same time as eventual winner, Gerrans.

    “Last year we went for stage victories, but this season, having Alejandro we must be more ambitious, we've got a team full of all-rounders. Despite having spent three years without riding a GT, with the lack of knowledge about his chances that means, he's in great condition to be our leader and we're convinced he can fight for a podium place” said Spanish director, Eusebio Unzué.

    The final roster is Alejandro Valverde, Juan Jose Cobo, José Joaquín Rojas, Rubén Plaza, Vasil Kiryienka, Iván Gutiérrez, Imanol Erviti, Vladimir Karpets and Rui Costa.

    “Apart from Alejandro, we have strong riders like Cobo, back in a grand tour after winning the Vuelta [2011] and into a race he really loves. I think he's coming in good form, I expect him to ride a good Tour and build to defend his title in the...

  • Santos North Western Tour seeks quieter roads for future events

    The peloton snake their way through the countryside of Gippsland on stage eight of the tour.
    Article published:
    June 26, 2012, 1:57 BST
    Alex Malone

    Rider safety under review following stage 5 debacle

    There were mixed feelings following the conclusion of the inaugural edition of the Santos North Western Tour on Sunday which saw a field of just 25 riders race into the city of Tamworth. It was a dramatically reduced field which had begun with 117 riders. Mark O’Brien (Budget Forklifts) won the overall title but unlike the previous two NRS tours he’s won (Mersey Valley Tour and Tour of Toowoomba) he didn’t actually race the final stage into Tamworth.

    The race had been stopped with around 90km still to go in the men’s stage which followed a relatively flat route from Gunnedah to Tamworth due to riders continually crossing-over the middle line of the road. Under the permits granted by the NSW Police, only the left-side of the road could be used for the duration of the four-day event.

    "Some guys were doing the right thing but a lot of riders were not following the instructions of the race commissares and so the organisers stopped the race," said Trent Wilson, manager of GPM – Wilson Racing.

    A number of managers spoke with each other and came up with a format that would mean the race could continue, albeit in a reduced format. Wilson spoke to Cyclingnews about how the race could go on.

    "There was a similar situation in the Sun Tour about 10 years ago during a rain-soaked criterium," he said. "There were train tracks on the course and it got too dangerous to keep racing. We spoke about basically putting a rider from each team in the break and they could race the stage while the rest of the bunch basically went for a training ride."

    Race organiser Kurt Pollock felt it was the...