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First Edition Cycling News, Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Date published:
March 01, 2011, 0:00 GMT
  • Evans to go to Tour of France with little racing preparation

    Cadel Evans (BMC) will begin his season at the Giro del Friuli.
    Article published:
    February 28, 2011, 9:54 GMT
    Cycling News

    Looks to become one of the eldest to win the race

    Cadel Evans is looking to become the oldest man since 1923 to win the Tour de France, and BMC Racing Team sport director John Lelangue is giving him an easy run-up to the race. But not because of his “advanced” age of 34. “I would do the same for a guy if he was 28.”

    The plan is for Evans to have only 32 to 35 days of racing in his legs by the time he starts the Tour on July 2. "The start of the season is a really light program so he's fresh when he gets to the Tour de France,” Lelangue told Australian newspaper The Advertiser.

    "The most important thing is he comes to the Tour de France with a lot of energy."

    Evans turned 34 on Valentine's Day. The oldest winner of the Tour was Firmin Lambot, who won it at age 36 in 1922. The next year Henri Pellisar won at the age of 34 years and six months. In comparison, Lance Armstrong (2005) and Carlos Sastre (2008) were both 33 when they won.

    Lelangue does not see Evans as slowing down in old age. “He's like a good bottle of wine. Cadel is always motivated and in perfect shape, so expect to see him at this level for a couple of years.”

    After attending the team training camp in January, Evans has trained on his own at his home in Switzerland. His first race will be this week, the Giro di Friuli in Italy on March 3. He will then take on such races as the Tour of Catalunya and the Tour de Romandie, before altitude training in May and the Criterium du Dauphine in June.

    Evans will be supported by a number of new teammates this year, including Amael Moinard and Ivan Santaromita in the mountains, and Manuel Quinziato and Greg Van Avermaet. The 2009 World Champion will “always be surrounded by a really strong team,” Lelangue said.

    Veteran American

  • Basso happy with early victory

    Ivan Basso (Liquigas-Cannondale) celebrates
    Article published:
    February 28, 2011, 10:11 GMT
    Barry Ryan

    Italian welcomes Contador's return

    While Ivan Basso’s (Liquigas-Cannondale) season will be judged largely on his performance at the Tour de France, the Italian has started his campaign on a positive note. After a strong showing at the Trofeo Laigueglia last week, Basso took victory at Sunday’s GP di Lugano, the first time in a decade that he has won in February.

    “[The last time] was 14 February 2001,” Basso told Gazzetta dello Sport. “I won a stage of the Tour Méditerranéen on Mont Faron.”

    Basso was a young professional with Giancarlo Ferretti’s Fasso Bortolo outfit at the time, and a lot of water has passed under the bridge in the intervening ten years. While he counts two Giri d’Italia on his palmares, Basso also served a suspension in 2007 and 2008 for what he termed as “attempted doping,” when his links with Dr. Eufemiano Fuentes' blood doping programme were uncovered during Operacion Puerto.

    The Italian is adamant, however, that his victory in last year’s Giro marked a turning point in his career and he indirectly credits it for his strong opening to this season. He also admitted that after a quiet start twelve months ago, he was keen to be competitive from the off in 2011.

    “Winning the Giro in 2010 was fundamental in giving me back awareness,” he explained. “And then the birth of my third child was the icing on the cake.

    “I just wanted to be sharper in the spring because I didn’t like how I was going this time last year. I’m not saying that a champion should always be able to win, but he should always be convincing. I need to be in the thick of the racing, a...

  • Offredo still doubtful in spite of Omloop Het Nieuwsblad showing

    Yoann Offredo (FDJ) has been quietly building form in Qatar.
    Article published:
    February 28, 2011, 12:38 GMT
    Barry Ryan

    Frenchman will not curb attacking instincts

    Yoann Offredo (FDJ) has admitted that in spite of his fine fourth place at Saturday’s Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, he still harbours doubts about his ability to be in the mix with the best riders come April.

    The Frenchman showed sustained flashes of his potential in the Classics last year, including a fine display at Milan-San Remo, and he explained that he puts himself under considerable pressure to perform at the sport’s major rendezvous.

    “I was so nervous [before the start of Omloop Het Nieuwsblad], that I was on the point of crying,” Offredo told L’Équipe. “In all the big objectives that I give myself, I have the impression of playing for my life, of having a knife against my throat.

    “It’ll be the same at the start of Milan-San Remo, I’m going to s**t myself.”

    In spite of his confident showings on the bike, the 24-year-old Offredo is seemingly plagued by uncertainties off of it, and he confessed that his high finish on Saturday has done little to allay his fears.

    “I’ve so little confidence in myself that I can’t enjoy this fourth place,” he explained. “I read and hear everywhere that Nieuwsblad isn’t the Tour of Flanders, that the best riders don’t take it full-on, that the rain and the cold created unpredictable racing conditions. All of these comments end up making me doubt and think that deep down maybe I benefited from favourable circumstances.”

    Offredo is nonetheless aware that with his growing string of impressive performances in big races, he is earning his place at cycling’s top table.

    “Last year, I gave Hushovd a push at...

  • Halliday finally on the road to recovery

    Amber Halliday (SA) is the 2010 women's time trial Champion
    Article published:
    February 28, 2011, 13:32 GMT
    Cycling News

    Australian coming back from head injuries from January crash

    Amber Halliday is still recovering from a race crash which left her in critical condition. The Australian has recently made a major step forward in her recovery and expects to be released from hospital in a few more weeks.

    The 31-year-old crashed on January 18 in the Rendition Homes-Santos Women's Cup race in Adelaide. She touched wheels with another rider and lost consciousness when she hit her head. She suffered from bleeding and bruising of the brain as well as facial fractures.

    Even though she regained consciousness from her coma, she was not really aware of everything that has gone on in the last five weeks. But last week she turned the corner and is now aware again.

    "I feel like it's taken me this long to wake up," she told "I've been fully conscious for a while, but I feel like I've only woken up in the last few days.

    "It changes every day, how clear everything is. I don't get that drunk feeling like I used to. I just used to feel like I was drunk all the time or tipsy. I slurred my speech, stumbled and couldn't remember things, which still happens a little.

    "I thought I was dreaming up until about a week ago, and it was only because I noticed that I was waking up in the same spot, that I thought `maybe this is real'."

    Halliday has only the vaguest memories of the day of the crash, and none of the crash itself.

    She is now in the midst of extensive therapy, and is convinced she will again be healthy. "I still lack confidence, but I have more faith that in the end I'll get there," she said. "I'll be what I used to be. Maybe not elite athlete Amber but I'll get back to full health which is the most important thing."

    Although her brain functions are improving, she still has physical problems. Her whole left side is weak, and she needs further surgery on...

  • Gutierrez comes out of retirement

    'Come on Jose!' Jose Gutierrez Cataluna (Phonak) gets some encouragement up the tough slopes
    Article published:
    February 28, 2011, 14:11 GMT
    Pete Cossins

    ‘El Bufalo’ set to roam again in Colombia with Botero

    Just five months after confirming his retirement from the sport at the end-of-season criterium in his home city of Valencia, José Enrique Gutiérrez is back in training and set to return to racing with the Colombian Gobernación de Antioquía team.

    Gutiérrez, who finished second in the 2006 Giro d’Italia riding for Phonak, but then saw his career peter out after he was severely compromised in the Operación Puerto blood doping investigation, was contacted late last year by the Colombian team’s manager, Santiago Botero. The two men spent five seasons racing together at Kelme and then another two at Phonak.

    Speaking to Spanish newspaper Meta2Mil, the 36-year-old Gutiérrez admitted that he had keen to return to the sport, but as a director rather than a rider. But in mid-December he got a call from Botero asking him to come to Colombia to act as mentor to the young riders on the Antioquía squad alongside another ex-Kelme rider, Oscar Sevilla.

    “Botero told me that he had signed Sergio Luis Henao, winner of the 2010 Tour of Colombia, and that they wanted to repeat that success in 2011. They needed a rider alongside him with lots of experience to help him through the good and bad moments,” said Gutiérrez, nicknamed ‘El Búfalo’ due to his solid and powerful build.

    “At first I told him that I couldn’t accept, that I hadn’t trained during 2010 and I didn’t fancy spending the whole year in Colombia because I’ve got a family and it would be difficult for me to be so far from home for so long. But he made me a good offer and told me that they would need me only for certain specific races.”

    Gutiérrez said that the difficult economic situation in...

  • Boonen laments close marking in Omloop and Kuurne

    Tom boonen (Quick Step) ahead of the peloton
    Article published:
    February 28, 2011, 16:17 GMT
    Barry Ryan

    Quick Step leader glad to have Belgium's opening weekend behind him

    Tom Boonen (Quick Step) has lamented that he was a marked man in both the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne, but reiterated that he would rather win in April than in February.

    “It mustn’t be forgotten that our true objectives are later in the year,” Boonen told La Dernière Heure. “But it’s always the same thing. If I move a finger, I have half the peloton on my back watching me, while lads like Langevald or Flecha can escape without even really attacking, just by accelerating a little.”

    Ultimately, however, Boonen was philosophical about the close attention he received from his peers and explained that getting used to racing on the cobbles again is more important than winning on the opening weekend of the Belgian season.

    “It’s my lot and I have to accept it,” he said. “This first false step in Belgium won’t stop me from sleeping. I always have the same sensation during this Belgian overture. I’m happy to take part in it, to get a feel again for the kind of race that I like. But at the same time, I’m always happy when this weekend is behind me.”

    Boonen made a surprise attack in the finale of Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne rather than playing his hand in the sprint, while he was one of the main aggressors on the Taaienberg during Saturday’s Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, but suffered from a relative lack of collaborators.

    “I thought my acceleration on the Taaienberg would provoke a reaction from some riders and cause a first selection,” Boonen said. “But nobody followed up and I soon understood that...

  • Boasson Hagen enjoyed Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne lead-out role

    Edvald Boasson Hagen (Sky) is one of the favourites for today's race
    Article published:
    February 28, 2011, 20:23 GMT
    Barry Ryan

    Norwegian glad to avoid Oude Kwaremont chaos

    Edvald Boasson Hagen (Sky) enjoyed a switch in roles in the finale of Sunday’s Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne. So often the beneficiary of a Team Sky lead-out, the talented Norwegian instead opened the sprint for his teammate Chris Sutton, as he realised he lacked the sharpness to take the win himself after his exertions in Omloop Het Nieuwsblad the previous day.

    “It’s nice to give something back,” Boasson Hagen told “Sutton and the rest of the team have worked for me so many times before. It’s great that he got the win.”

    Sky’s black jerseys were prominent on the run-in to Kuurne, as they massed on the front to shut down a dangerous move from Tom Boonen (Quick Step). In the finishing straight, it was then up to Boasson Hagen to marshal his teammate Sutton to victory.

    “Ian Stannard and Juan Antonio Flecha drove for about a kilometre each before I took over,” Boasson Hagen explained. “I opened the sprint with 500 metres left and led out until 150 metres from the line. Sutton took over in the final metres and it was great to take the lead in such a controlled sprint.”

    While the finale ran smoothly for Sky and Boasson Hagen, the Norwegian admitted that he was fortunate to avoid the crash that marked the race’s passage over the Oude Kwaremont. He managed to avoid that carnage that ended the aspirations of a number of riders, including Stijn Devolder (Vacansoleil).

    “I was the last one who came through unscathed, before the whole road was blocked,” Boasson Hagen. “There were riders everywhere. I was really lucky...

  • Kenda p/b Geargrinder unites in sunny Florida

    There were plenty of opportunities to get in some TT training.
    Article published:
    February 28, 2011, 23:35 GMT
    Kirsten Frattini

    UCI Continental team to announce co-title sponsor this week

    US-based UCI Continental team Kenda p/b Geargrinder kicked off its season at a training camp held in the warm and sunny south-east climate of Clermont, Florida. Ben Day, the team's newest addition, led a 17-man roster through some 600 miles of training during the nine-day camp that concluded on Sunday.

    "The camp was to unite the roster and to get the guys to bond a little bit," said the team's general manager, Chad Thompson. "We wanted to see where our weaker areas and our stronger areas were so that we could work on those before our big start at the Amgen Tour of California.

    "We also distributed equipment and got the guys fitted on their bikes," he continued. "We had lots of team bonding; every night was a team dinner and every morning we had a team breakfast. The camp was way more organised then we thought it would be and we were really pleased with it."

    Thompson and directeur sportif Frankie Andreu originally planned to bring the team to Dahlonega in Georgia or Greenville in North Carolina. However, they decided against taking the riders where weather can be unpredictable in late winter, and instead opted to go south to the Sunshine State.

    "We were running away from the snow," Thompson said. "No matter where we chose the forecast was looking horrible because of this really cold winter that we've been having. Camp is not about being in the cold.

    "The guys are supposed to be able to get out and ride their bikes and get some miles in. Clermont was not hilly but it was rolling so the guys got a little bit of climbing efforts in, in particularly on a climb called Sugar Loaf Mountain Road. They spent a lot of time on the bike."

    The Kenda p/b Geargrinder roster includes Day, Isaac Howe, Roman Kilun, Bobby Sweeting, Shawn Milne, Chad Hartley, Chris Monteleone, Geoff Godsey, Jake Rytlewski, Jim Stemper, Jonny Sundt, Luca Damiani, Pat Lemieux, Phil Gaimon, Rob White, Scottie Weiss, Spencer Gaddy and Gregg Brandt.