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First Edition Cycling News, Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Date published:
June 5, 2012, 08:00
  • Roelandts tops comeback with Tour of Luxembourg stage win

    Jurgen Roelandts (Omega Pharma-Lotto) speaks to the press.
    Article published:
    June 4, 2012, 12:43
    Cycling News

    Lotto-Belisol rider fully recovered from fractured cervical vertebrae and blood clot

    Winning the final stage of the Tour of Luxembourg was a major career milestone for Jürgen Roelandts. Not only was it the first victory for Lotto-Belisol rider since October 2008, it also marked his successful return from a fractured cervical vertebrae he suffered in the Tour Down Under this January.

    The win meant a lot to him, “especially after the past few months. It proves that I worked as much as possible during my rehabilitation. I knew after the Tour of Belgium that my form was good."

    The Belgian won the closing stage in what the team called “a long and beautiful solo escape in apocalyptic weather.” Heavy rains pounded the course and only sixty riders finished the stage.

    On the team website, Roelandts said, “The stage actually fit me like a glove. It was a little too hard for the sprinters, a technical local circuit, and the weather was in my favour. Not that I really like bad weather, but I ride pretty well in it.”

    The team had agreed he should try to be in the day's break group, and he executed the plan. “Cooperation in our group of four was pretty god, but I felt I was the strongest.” He broke away from the other three with 10 kilometres to go and crossed the finish line alone.

    The win has given Roelandts enough confidence that he is now not only looking forward to the Belgian championships, but also suggesting he might be ready for the Tour de France and 2012 London Olympics. Roelandts has been one of André Greipel's main lead-out men.  “In the Tour of Belgium and here in Luxembourg we proved that the train for Greipel runs like never before. We must also do that in the Tour,” he told Het Nieuwsblad.

    He heads next to the Ster ZLM Tour (June 14-17), where he and Greipel will go up against other top sprinters such as Mark Cavendish (Team Sky) and Marcel Kittel (Argos-Shimano). “This is a test that can count for the Tour.

    “But my ambitions extend even further. Why would I not qualify for the Olympics? I want to use the coming weeks to prove I can still optimally use my reserves.”

    Roelandts was away from racing for about four months after his serious crash in the second stage of the Tour Down Under in January. He had hoped to ride again in Tirenno-Adriatico, but developed a blood clot which delayed his return to action. Only in mid-May was he given the green light to race again.

  • Report: Euskaltel to continue for another three years

    Samuel Sanchez (Euskaltel - Euskadi) has a drink.
    Article published:
    June 4, 2012, 15:27
    Alasdair Fotheringham

    Telephone company to take over direct running of Basque squad

    Euskaltel-Euskadi - albeit with a single sponsor, Euskaltel, and without the Euskadi foundation which has been part of its unique structure since 1994 - will continue as a team into 2013 , Basque newspaper El Diario Vasco has reported.

    The news follows months of uncertainty about the future of the team beyond the end of the season, which is expected to split into two very different halves for 2013.

    One part will be the WorldTour team, with - according to El Diario Vasco - an increased contribution from Euskaltel. Euskaltel currently provide three million euros a year, roughly 50 percent of the team’s total cost. Basque public institutions, such as the Basque government, are expected to continue their sponsorship of the Euskaltel squad, albeit at a lower level. The team’s overall budget, other sources told Cyclingnews, is expected to triple to around nine million per annum.

    The other half of what was Euskaltel-Euskadi, the Euskadi Foundation, will no longer be responsible for the team’s logistical side.

    Speaking in an interview this April, however, Euskaltel-Euskadi’s current manager, Miguel Madariaga, who has overseen the professional team since it started in 1994, has already confirmed he will be moving on.

    Madariaga has said - although he was unavailable for comment following the latest reports - that he would continue working with the Foundation, as well as with what has been Euskaltel-Euskadi’s feeder Continental team, Orbea, and amateur squad Naturgas, both of which are run under Foundation auspices.

    The Foundation itself is a unique structure in cycling: formed in 1994 purely thanks to financial contributions from Basque cycling fans, it oversaw the creation of the original Euskadi team. When in 1997 the team ran into major economic troubles for a second time and was on the point of folding, Euskaltel, the Basque Country’s best-known telephone company, became the main sponsor.

    If confirmed, Euskaltel’s decision to continue would not just be the second time it has ‘saved’ the team from extinction. It would also be a rare bright spot in a decidedly difficult era for sponsorship in Spain. Spain has just six teams in professional cycling’s three divisions and only two - Movistar and Euskaltel-Euskadi - in the WorldTour.



  • Wiggins: Dauphiné yellow was not an objective

    Bradley Wiggins (Team Sky) leads the race
    Article published:
    June 4, 2012, 19:15
    Cycling News

    Englishman moves into overall lead

    Bradley Wiggins (Sky) moved into the yellow jersey at the Critérium du Dauphiné on stage one after the peloton split on the climb of the Côte de la Sizeranne inside the final 10 kilometres.

    Overnight leader Luke Durbridge (Orica-GreenEdge) was among those dropped, and although Cadel Evans (BMC) forced his way clear on the descent to take a fine stage victory, he didn’t succeed in pegging back the time he lost to Wiggins in the previous day’s prologue.

    “I've got the jersey but that wasn't the objective today," Wiggins said afterwards. "If I wasn't the yellow jersey, they'd say that I was rubbish, and if I get it, they say that it's too early. It doesn't matter.”

    Wiggins now leads Evans by one second in the overall standings, and the Dauphiné could provide the pair with a fascinating dress rehearsal for next month’s Tour de France, where they will line up as the favourites for overall victory. “No disrespect to this race, but it’s only the Dauphiné,” Wiggins noted. “We’re still a long way from the Tour.”

    Wiggins won the Dauphiné twelve months ago, but crashed out of the Tour de France in the opening week. Evans went on to take the yellow jersey in Paris on that occasion, and Wiggins noted that the Australian is a hugely consistent performer at this time of year.

    “It’s not a surprise that Cadel won. He’s always good when it gets close to the Tour de France,” Wiggins said.

    Andy Schleck (RadioShack-Nissan) delivered a rather more erratic display, however. Already handicapped by the surfeit of time trialling miles in this year’s Tour de Fracne, the Luxembourger’s general form appeared to be significantly less advanced than that of Wiggins and Evans as he was dropped on the Côte de la Sizeranne. Schleck ultimately rolled home over three minutes down.

    “For Andy, I don’t know,” Wiggins said. “I spoke with him this morning, and he seemed quite good. But he has his own system, he’ll be up there at the Tour.”



  • Hushovd to skip Tour de France

    Thor Hushovd (BMC)
    Article published:
    June 4, 2012, 19:28
    Cycling News

    Viral infection leaves BMC rider heading to Pologne

    Thor Hushovd, a two-time green jersey winner at the Tour de France, will skip this year’s event as he recovers from a viral infection.

    The Norwegian pulled out of last month’s Giro d’Italia after less than a week of racing and will now forgo the Tour – instead competing in the Tour de Pologne later this month.

    "We did perform some tests at the Mapei Sport Center after the Giro and found that he had signs of a viral infection from earlier in the year," said Max Test, BMC chief doctor.

    Hushovd is hoping that the stint of racing in Poland will help him towards the Olympic Games which take place in London after the Tour de France.

    "I needed more time to recover and it's always been a goal of mine to do well at the Olympics," Hushovd said.

    "I also hope to be a part of the BMC Racing Team's team time trial squad at the world championships and to compete in the road race as well. So there are still a lot of goals left to prove to myself this year."

  • Déjà vu for Diaz in Philadelphia finale

    Andres Diaz (Team Exergy) drove the late race break, enabling  teammate Fred Rodriguez to sit tight in the field and wait for the sprint.
    Article published:
    June 4, 2012, 21:26
    Peter Hymas

    Exergy rider's breakaway bid falls 2km short for second straight year

    While the TD Bank Philadelphia International challenge has traditionally been the bastion of the sprinters, with the winner crowned from a breakaway just once during the most recent 10 editions, nevertheless the peloton's rouleurs regularly go out on the attack in the hope that perhaps a break will beat the odds and stymie the sprinters' squads.

    In both the 2012 edition, contested yesterday, and the 2011 edition a three-man break, the product of a larger escape whittled down to the strong men, flirted with reaching the finish line ahead of the peloton only to be neutralised on the last of the short finishing circuits between Logan Square and Lemon Hill inside of two kilometres remaining.

    There was remarkable symmetry to the moves as each year as the final selection contained representatives from US-based Continental teams Competitive Cyclist and Team Exergy as well as a rider from a foreign Pro Continental squad, in 2011 it was Spidertech's Bruno Langois and this year Champion System's Clinton Avery. Francisco Mancebo flew the flag for Competitive Cyclist in 2011, followed by Thomas Rabou this year but the one constant was Team Exergy's Andres Miguel Diaz Corrales, a 28-year-old Colombian, whose bid for glory in Philadelphia once again came up tantalisingly short.

    "I was looking to get in the breakaway, so I took a chance," Diaz told Cyclingnews. "I started feeling pretty good so I attacked on the [Manayunk] Wall to see how the other guys were feeling."

    This occurred on the fifth of seven ascents of the Wall, not long after a large group of approximately 30 riders were brought back into the peloton after about 47km of freedom. Joining Diaz in the escape were Clinton Avery (Champion System Pro Cycling Team), Thomas Rabou (Competitive Cyclist Racing Team), Scott Zwizanski (Optum Cycling p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies) and Bobby Lea (Team p/b Pure Energy Cycling-ProAir HFA). Unfortunately, horsepower was lost as over the next two ascents of the Wall as first Lea then Zwizanski would be dropped.

    "In the break I was working really hard, but then one guy left and another guy left. Then I see the other teams working really hard [in the chase] and I thought 'man, I've got to keep going to the end'."

    The trio of Diaz, Avery and Rabou had at one point enjoyed a lead of more than three minutes, but entering the final five 5km finishing circuits their lead had shrunk to 2:10. The out-and-back circuit provides a chance for the escape and chasers to see each other as they negotiate the 180 degree turn around the fountain at Logan Square on Benjamin Franklin Parkway and the Diaz group could see the intense pursuit being conducted by Team Type 1-Sanofi and UnitedHealthcare.

    "On the last few small laps I figured that unless something happened [to disrupt the chase] then they were going to catch me, but I tried. I felt that I was really strong so I committed 100 percent. I thought we had a chance."

    As the bell rung for the final circuit their lead stood at a tenuous 20 seconds. Avery soon fell off the pace, but Diaz and Rabou pushed on over Lemon Hill, but were ultimately swept up with 2km remaining.

    For the first time in the 28 year history of the US's premier one-day road race, the distance was shortened from 250km to 200km and prognosticators weren't sure if the slightly shorter distance would lead to more animated racing, or perhaps the sprinters' teams would be able to have an even stronger stranglehold.

    Team Exergy director Tad Hamilton thought a break might go to the line this year, but of course the squad also had a very solid sprint contender in Fred Rodriguez to cover all the bases. Rodriguez would ultimately deliver a podium finish in third place behind Team Type 1-Sanofi teammates Aleksandr Serebryakov and Aldo Ino Ilesic.

    "This was going to be the year that a break could maybe work so we definitely had to be in it, and with a good guy, not just represented but driving it," Hamilton told Cyclingnews. "Andres was keen on having another shot at this race after getting caught on the last lap last year. But we also have Fred and a couple of good sprinters in there, so it was plan A and plan B.

    "Andres was good, he hasn't had great legs this spring, but it's nice to see him coming along. He was fantastic last year all year and I think [Amgen Tour of] California brought him back to where we expect him to be. I know he's disappointed today but he's also very happy. When you're a good rider and you go through a drought it's tough."

    Diaz is in his third year with Team Exergy, with the latter two years in the professional ranks as the squad made the jump from elite amateur to UCI Continental in 2011. Diaz first came to the United States from his home in Cartago, Colombia late in the 2009 season on a hunch, and quickly made an impression which ultimately led to his tenure at Team Exergy.

    "One guy told me that there was a team here [in the US], Mengoni, that needed one guy so I wanted to take the chance to race in the US. Then I won [Vermont's] Green Mountain [Stage Race] and then the next year I started with Team Exergy."

    Diaz made his mark in the 2011 season with results such as a second place overall finish behind Francisco Mancebo at the Sea Otter Classic, a fourth place GC finish at the Redlands Bicycle Classic plus another fourth place overall results at the Nature Valley Grand Prix. Diaz enjoyed a stint of world class competition at the inaugural USA Pro Cycling Challenge in Colorado where he finished 29th overall, with only Chris Baldwin (Bissell) finishing higher from the US Continental ranks amidst a peloton chock full of WorldTour and Pro Continental talent.

    "I like to race when big teams are coming, that's pretty exciting for me," said Diaz. "I'm very good friends with [Francisco] Mancebo and I always try to be aggressive. I'm not a sprinter, I like climbing and to fight for the GC at races."

  • Andy Schleck left behind in Saint Vallier

    Andy Schleck (RadioShack Nissan)
    Article published:
    June 5, 2012, 01:54
    Cycling News

    Bruyneel says result "isn't a disaster"

    While plenty has been said about uneasy relationship with RadioShack-Nissan team manager Johan Bruyneel, the image of Andy Schleck being dropped on the sixth and final climb, the Côte de la Sizeranne, on stage 1 of the Critérium du Dauphiné still came as quite the shock.

    Schleck eventually crossed the finish line of the 187km stage, 3:10 down on Tour de France rival and winner, Cadel Evans (BMC).

    "I didn't expect to see that scenario at the end, but I've spoken with Andy," Bruyneel told the team's website post-stage. "What's clear here is that he's had a lack of competition. We know that. We come here with different intentions other than to win. The main goal is to see how Andy is going in the mountains. With a lack of competition in his legs, in theory we will see him getting better this week and by the end of the week we can see where he really is. It's definitely better if things like this don't happen but it isn't a disaster."

    Since his last race, Liège - Bastogne – Liège where he finished 50th, Schleck has been preparing for this year's Tour having recently been awarded with the yellow jersey for the 2010 event following Alberto Contador's subsequent disqualification. 

    Another of Schleck's key rivals for the 2012 grand boucle, Brad Wiggins (Sky), while puzzled at the performance didn't believe that too much could be read into it in relation to the three-week epic.

    "For Andy, I don't know," Wiggins said. "I spoke with him this morning, and he seemed quite good. But he has his own system, he'll be up there at the Tour."

    It was a theory echoed by Bruyneel.

    "Everyone comes here looking for something different. Evans wins the stage, Wiggins takes the jersey, those are confirmations for them. We still need to find our confirmation," he said. "The Tour starts on the 30th of June so there is still awhile to go and the mountains of the Tour are even further away. It's a little bit worrisome but we'll see during the rest of the week."

    Bruyneel also attempted to put an end to speculation that the younger Schleck was not necessarily guaranteed a start at the Tour de France.

    "Recently it was reported that I said only Fabian Cancellara was guaranteed a spot on the Tour team. That is not what I said. Translations need to be correct. What I said was based on results Cancellara was the only one guaranteed to be on the Tour team," he clarified. "It takes nine riders to ride the Tour. Of course Andy will be there."


  • Heavy crashes for Sanchez and Martin at Critérium du Dauphiné

    Samuel Sanchez (Euskaltel) struggles home
    Article published:
    June 5, 2012, 04:36
    Cycling News

    Decision to be made this morning on continuation

    There was concern for defending Olympic road champion Samuel Sanchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi) on Monday's 1st stage of the Criterium du Dauphine, the Spaniard crashing heavily with several others at the 47 kilometre mark.

    He was named in his country's team on Friday for the London Games and initial reports suggested that there could be some doubt over his title defence with suggestions he had suffered broken ribs. Pierrick Fedrigo (FDJ-BigMat) also crashed in the incident, and suffered knee pain.

    Sanchez lagged behind the peloton for the rest of the stage but was surrounded by several teammates. He finished nearly 24 minutes behind winner, Cadel Evans (BMC).

    X-rays revealed that Sanchez didn't sustain any breaks, but did have bruised ribs and a decision will be made this morning as to whether he will continue for the rest of the week.

    There was also concern for Garmin-Barracuda's Daniel Martin who came to grief on a roundabout 34km from the finish in Saint Vallier. Martin brought down Orica GreenEdge rider Simon Gerrans in the crash.

    "I performed a few acrobatics & then had a little touch down with 30k to go. @DanMartin86 hope you're ok, i left some tire marks on you.." the Australian said on Twitter.

    Martin cracked his helmet in two with the impact, and there were fears that he had fractured his collarbone and finished the stage 16:39 back.

    "Shoulder hurts like hell," he said on Twitter. "See how we wake up."

  • Hesjedal heads to Tour de France with another win on his mind

    Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin - Barracuda) looks like he is suffering
    Article published:
    June 5, 2012, 06:52
    Daniel Benson

    Canadian says he's in the form of his life

    He may already have one grand tour in his pocket but Ryder Hesjedal is ready for this year's Tour de France. The Giro d'Italia winner will not race between now and the start of the Tour, which is less than a month away, but believes that he is in the form of his life.

    Garmin is yet to announce all nine riders for the Tour and although he will start as a provisional leader, he confirmed he would ride in support of a teammate if called upon by his team.

    The Canadian stormed to the Giro title with a consistent display in both time trials and the mountains and despite his relatively compact palmares, could replicate Marco Pantani, the last rider to complete the Giro-Tour double in 1998.

    "All I can think about is that I won the Giro and that I'm in the condition of my life. I won this Giro and I'm not dead, and if anything I'm getting stronger and that's where you want to be. So I'm completely optimistic for the rest of the season. I have the luxury of having no pressure as well and nothing to lose. I won the Giro and there's lot of riders who have put everything on the Tour. I think I'm in a good position in that way," Hesjedal told Cyclingnews.

    "I don't feel like I have to prove anything. There's no fluke in a three week race. I was completely satisfied with my ride at the Giro and the biggest thing I can take away is the respect from my peers and the previous winners of the race. So for me I don't feel like I have to prove myself or back up the result. But that said, do I want a good Tour? Sure. Do I love the feeling of that now? Sure. I have a new benchmark for myself and we'll see how the future goes but nothing can ever take away from a victory at this level."

    Hesjedal went into the Giro without placing undue pressure on himself. Before the race, when asked about his aspirations he would shy away from talk of the top ten and top five, and focus on 'doing my best ride possible,' and it's the exact same mantra he'll be bringing to France.

    "I'm just thinking about having the best ride possible. I can't control what other riders do but having said that I've won a grand tour and someday I'd like to feel that again."

    Garmin is likely to send a balanced team to the Tour with Tyler Farrar afforded at least one dedicated helper for the sprints. Dave Zabriskie, David Millar, Christian Vande Velde and Daniel Martin are likely to occupy four slots, with the team's GC performer from last year, Tom Danielson, a realistic bet for one of the last two places.

    With Vande Velde and Danielson for company Hesjedal will ride alongside two riders who, like him, have finished in the Tour's top 10. However he believes the team will ride collectively.

    "I'm always there as a team player. It's not my decision. I have what I think is good to me but ultimately it's the team's decision and I'll stand by that 100 per cent."