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First Edition Cycling News, Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Date published:
March 20, 2012, 13:00
  • Horner skips Volta a Catalunya to heal minor injury from Tirreno

    Chris Horner celebrates his race lead at Tirreno-Adriatico
    Article published:
    March 19, 2012, 21:37
    Peter Hymas

    RadioShack-Nissan rider's next target is Vuelta Ciclista al Pais Vasco

    After a stellar start to his 2012 season with a second place overall finish at Tirreno-Adriatico, Chris Horner (RadioShack-Nissan) had intended to next compete at the Volta a Catalunya, which began today. However, the 40-year-old American has opted to skip the Spanish WorldTour race to provide some healing time for a minor injury suffered at Tirreno-Adriatico.

    "I have a little bit of a break period," Horner told Cyclingnews. "I have a little problem behind the knee that I'm resting up. It's just a tendon below the hamstring that was sore from Tirreno-Adriatico. I'm waiting for that to heal. That will give me a week's rest that I wasn't planning."

    Tirreno-Adriatico was Horner's first race in approximately eight months after a crash ended his 2011 Tour de France, and ultimately his whole season. Prior to starting Tirreno-Adriatico, Horner's last day of competition was stage 7 of the 2011 Tour de France on which he suffered a broken nose, cracked ribs, concussion and a blood clot in the lung which forced a premature halt to his 2011 campaign.

    Horner was justifiably pleased with his performance after a lengthy break from racing.

    "It's a good way to come back," said Horner. "It doesn't leave too many doubts as to whether the blood clot did some permanent damage, that's for certain."

    Horner has had two previous experiences at Tirreno-Adriatico earlier in his career, with two DNFs to show for it, but the 2012 parcours proved to be particularly appealing.

    "I did it in 1997 and 2005 and both times it sent me to the hospital, so I didn't have a really good track record there. But [this year] the course was perfect. When Dirk Demol showed me the profile it was an absolutely beautiful profile for me. They added in a summit finish plus there was a team time trial, although not good for me but really good for the team, so I knew that would give me a very good shot at having the leader's jersey during the race."

    With the Volta a Catalunya off of Horner's schedule, his next race will be the Vuelta Ciclista al Pais Vasco, April 2-7. Horner has had enviable success in recent editions, with an overall general classification victory in 2010 followed by a second place overall in 2011 behind teammate Andreas Klöden. The Basque Country race is one held in particular esteem by Horner.

    "I believe the Basque Country race to be the best quality GC racing field in the world," said Horner. "The only thing that will match the quality of field you get at the Basque Country is going to be the Tour de France. Not even the Giro, not the Vuelta, not the Dauphine, not Paris-Nice - none of those races compare with the GC contenders that you have in the Basque Country. It's really a fabulous race."

    Horner followed Vuelta Ciclista al Pais Vasco last year with a victory at the Amgen Tour of California. In 2011 he didn't compete in the slightly more than one-month interval between them, but his absence from Volta a Catalunya may prompt a slight deviation in his race programme.

    "We'll see if I continue a little bit longer beyond the Basque Country or not, but at the moment I'm supposed to be flying back to the US after the Basque Country. You're not going to have any better preparation there [in the Basque Country], then take a little bit of a break afterwards so I can arrive into California fresh."

  • No room for Hoste at Paris-Roubaix

    Leif Hoste (Accent Jobs) was 60th
    Article published:
    March 20, 2012, 00:28
    Cycling News

    Accent Jobs miss out on invite, NetApp the beneficiaries

    Leif Hoste's Accent Jobs - Willems Veranda's team will not be riding this year's Paris-Roubaix ending the Belgian's hopes of a return to the French monument at least for another year.

    Hoste has enjoyed a decorated career of near on 15 years and has been a regular performer in the cobbled classics. Between 2004 and 2007 he finished runner-up in the Tour of Flanders three times, and has also finished in the top 10 of Paris-Roubaix twice. He's considered to be among the best riders of his generation never to have won a classic.

    His 2011 was scuttled after a career-threatening crash in the Three Days of De Panne, but having recovered he joined Accent Jobs - Willems Veranda's in the hope of refinding his classics mojo. Paris-Roubaix had initially been one of the 34-year-old's ambitions but though that's no longer possible, his team will be starting at the Tour of Flanders.

    Paris-Roubaix organisers ASO have instead opted to invite Bretagne-Schuller (Fra), Cofidis Le Crédit En Ligne (Fra), Farnese Vini-Selle Italia (GBr), Project 1t4i (Ned), Saur-Sojasun (Fra), Team Europcar (Fra) and Team NetApp (Ger).

    For NetApp it's the second big coup for the team after previously sealing a ride in the 2012 Giro d'Italia organised by RCS Sport, and the Tour of Flanders, and fortifies their relationship with the race after debut in last year's 'Hell of the North'.

    "We are honored to have the opportunity to ride in Paris - Roubaix once again. Within a week we will be present at two monumental cycling events.

    "Our showing last year earned us a great deal of respect with the ASO. We convinced with our offensive tactics and our absolute desire to bring all of our newcomers to the finish line in Roubaix. I am certain that we will draw attention to ourselves again this year," said manager Ralph Denk .

  • Redlands organisers geared to go for 2012 event

    Francisco Mancebo ( with his overall GC win and yellow jersey.
    Article published:
    March 20, 2012, 03:02
    Cycling News

    Opening round of NRC to light things up

    North American professional bicycle racing gets underway at the Redlands Bicycle Classic this week, the opening round of the 2012 USA Cycling National Racing Calendar, and the anticipation could not be any more amplified. All racers and teams are locked-in and geared-up to launch hostilities on the roads of Redlands beginning Thursday March 22nd with the prologue time trial.

    Returning champions Francisco Mancebo, riding for the newly-branded Competitive Cyclist team in the men’s field as well as returning women’s champion Amber Neben, representing the newly formed Specialized-Lululemon will both feature in the 2012 event, after dominant peformances last year in Redlands helped set them on the track to strong NRC performances.

    Twenty-seven men’s teams will be queuing up to comprise a robust peloton of 200 riders and no fewer than 90 women spread across 12 teams will contest the 2012 race. Bissell, Kenda/5-Hour Energy, Competitive Cyclist and Bontrager-Livestrong bring plenty of quality to the men's field, while the expected battle between Specialized-lululemon and Exergy TWENTY12 in the women's race will also be enthralling to watch.

    "We are very proud to have so much excitement surrounding our event," says Race President, Dan Rendler. "So many applications come from all across the globe for teams that want to participate in our race, we are proud to have such large pelotons of talented riders hitting the streets of Redlands for another great year of racing."

    Complete List of Teams Competing

    Elite men

    Bissell Pro Cycling
    BMC-Hincapie Development Team
    Bontrager Livestrong
    California Giant / Specialized
    CashCall Mortgage
    Champion Systems p/b Stans No Tubes/CRCA
    Competitive Cyclist Racing Team
    RBS Morgans - Altitude Technology Solutions
    Elbowz Racing
    Full Circle Cycling p/b Pure Gear
    Garneau Quebecor Norton-Rose
    Hagens Berman Cycling Team
    Jamis Sutter Home
    Jelly Belly p/b Kenda
    Juwi Solar Cycling
    Kenda / 5 Hour Energy p/b Geargrinder
    Optum Pro Cycling p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies
    Simple Green-Bike Religion p/b Cannondale
    Spy-Swamis Development Elite Team
    Stage 17 Racing
    Team Exergy
    Team Mountain Khakis/Smart Stop
    Team Type 1 (Development)
    Wonderful Pistachios Pro Cycling
    XO Communications p/b Cisco

    Elite women

    Cynergy Cycles p/b Missing Link Coaching
    Exergy TWENTY12
    FCS / Rouse p/b Mr.Restore
    NOW and Novartis for MS
    Optum Pro Cycling p/b Kelly Benefits Strategies
    Primal / Mapmyride Womens Racing
    SC Velo- EmpowerCoaching
    Specialized Lululemon
    Team Kenda p/b Geargrinders
    Team Tibco-To The Top
    Vanderkitten – Focus

  • Added sweetness in Pollock’s Taiwan win

    Rhys Pollock (Drapac Cycling) kisses the trophy of the final winner
    Article published:
    March 20, 2012, 04:40
    Jane Aubrey

    Drapac rider’s greatest coup comes after close calls

    Rhys Pollock's general classification win at last week's Tour de Taiwan, was in many ways a relief. The Drapac rider broke through for the biggest victory of his career, but the end result was about more than just a highlight for the palmares.

    Pollock claimed the yellow leader's jersey on Stage 3 and never relinquished it, eventually completing the race with a two second gap on Kam Po Wong (Hong Kong Team). His was a victory borne of persistence.

    Late last year, Pollock took both the stage win and the overall lead on day one of the Jayco Herald Sun Tour – after seven years of attempting to step onto the podium. He retained the yellow jersey until three laps of the punishing Arthurs Seat climb on the penultimate day, where he failed to match the likes of Jack Bobridge (Garmin-Cervelo) and Nathan Haas (Genesys) who stole his prize. Despite knowing that at the 'Sun Tour' he would be an unlikely eventual winner, five months on in Taiwan, it was a series of events that played on Pollock's mind.

    "I did say to Agostino [Giramondo, directeur sportif] after we'd won Taiwan, that if I had of lost it on the last day I would have been devastated," Pollock admitted to Cyclingnews.

    Pollock capitalised on the form he hinted at during the Tour de Langkawi in February. Despite being slightly hampered by a back injury, Pollock and his Drapac team put in aggressive performance highlighted by Darren Lapthorne's stint in the overall lead.

    "I still managed to get in a few breaks," Pollock said of his Langkawi experience. "We had one close call where we got caught with about 200 metres to go which was pretty scarring but I sort of made up for that in Taiwan.

    "If I do one tour and have five to six days in between it seems to bring me up quite well."

    Pollock, 32, went into Taiwan as Drapac's "guy to go in breakaways" – doing just that on the first two stages - escapes that largely decided the final general classification.

    "On the fourth stage we tried to just get the other guys to ride aggressively and try to get into a break hoping that they could capitalise and take the lead away from me," he explained. "But on the day it never really happened and breaks just didn't go like we were hoping they would."

    Pollock was amazed that he was able to hang in during stage 5's tough ascent to the finish and then survived a crash with 800 metres to go on the final day to secure his overall victory.

    "On the last day we just tried to control it," he told Cyclingnews. "It was pretty nerve-wracking because it was an aggressive race and everyone was trying to get away.

    "I wasn't riding across the finish with my arms in the air or anything like that," Pollock said of his recovery from the crash to complete the stage. "It would have been nice to be able to do that. I was more frustrated than anything else."

    The Albury cyclist believes that his own experience says much about the trials and tribulations of racing in Asia.

    "You can't go into Asian races just saying: ‘that rider's our climber and he's our leader, or he's our sprinter'," he explained. "Everyone on the team has to be able to dabble in a bit of everything to cope with the aggressive racing."

    Having already exceeded his ambitions for the 2012 season, Pollock will next race in the Australian National Road Series opener, Mersey Valley Tour next month. The part-time draftsman won't travel to Europe with the rest of the Drapac team but will again re-focus on the domestic season before chasing the odd stage win in Asia towards the end of the year.

    "I've been going [to Europe] for about 11 years now and I don't have ambitions to go to a bigger team or anything," Pollock explained. "I'm just happy with being on Drapac and trying to help the younger guys and help this team grow. If I can get results along the way, that's good."


  • Chavanel back to racing at in Dwars Door Vlaanderen

    Sylvain Chavanel (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) is using the race as Paris-Nice training
    Article published:
    March 20, 2012, 09:45
    Cycling News

    French champion healthy again after bronchitis

    After having had to skip Milan-San Remo due to bronchitis, Sylvain Chavanel (QuickStep) has decided to come back to racing earlier than previously planned. His initial race schedule did not include the midweek Belgian semi-classic Dwars Door Vlaanderen, but the Frenchman was eager to return to competition as he feels completely healed.

    "Initially, I hadn't planned to race this Wednesday," Chavanel explained to L'Equipe. "But missing Milan-San Remo because of bronchitis has changed my plans. I've been able to rest and heal properly at my home, so now I feel ready to take on these first Flandrian competitions."

    The French champion had suffered respiratory problems during Paris-Nice, which continued after the stage race. In accordance with the team's medical staff, it was decided that he should not race in Milan-San Remo, concentrating instead on getting healthy again.

    Dwars Door Vlanderen, a one-day event to Waregem which Chavanel won in 2008, will be a first appetizer for the upcoming series of Flemish Classics. The riders will face no less than 13 climbs distributed along the route, including the Oude Kwaremont and the Patersberg, two key ascents in the next Tour of Flanders.

    Alongside Chavanel, Gerald Ciolek, Gert Steegmans, Guillaume Van Keirsbulck, Iljo Keisse, Matthew Brammeier, Niki Terpstra and Nikolas Maes will take the start in Roeselare.

    "It's an important race in which we will line up a squad that can bring results," said sports director Wilfried Peeters. "The race is just a few days before Harelbeke and Gent-Wevelgem, so it will be also a very important test for us. In the finale the route is very challenging. The Nokereberg climb is located at only six kilometres from the finish so it could be a crucial point in the race.

    "Overall, in the last 50 kilometres it will be important to be very careful, stay in the lead positions and take advantage of any eventual opportunities. On Wednesday, Chavanel will also return to racing, after having sat out Milano-Sanremo. This will be an important race for him as well to return to get back into race rhythm."

  • Valverde believes he can win the Tour de France

    Points classification leader Alejandro Valverde (Movistar)
    Article published:
    March 20, 2012, 10:22
    Cycling News

    Hopes for "grand duels" against Gilbert in Ardennes Classics

    Having come back to racing this year after a doping suspension, Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) is also back to winning ways. With four victories and a podium spot at the Tour Down Under as well as Paris-Nice in his pocket, the Spaniard's balance sheet in late March is more than promising in view of his real targets this year, the Ardennes Classics and the Tour de France.

    Valverde did not expect such a successful return to competition, but he told L'Equipe that he trained as hard during the last year as when he was competing. "I knew I had good shape as I had trained well at home, but I didn't think I would be able to do such a good season start. But during the suspension, I did exactly what I did before. I trained regularly, and I had two peaks of form during the year. I trained as though I was competing, but without competing."

    Turning his attention towards the Classics season, Valverde admitted that Philippe Gilbert (BMC) would be the man to beat after what the Belgian showed last season. "To me, Gilbert was the best rider in the world last year," the Spaniard continued. "I would love to be able to deliver a grand duel against him in the Ardennes Classics. I'm sure this would also be great for the spectators."

    On top of his other prestigious victories, Valverde won Liège-Bastogne-Liège twice in his career, and the Flèche Wallonne once. Gilbert took all three Ardennes Classics last year, on top of his first victory of the Amstel Gold Race in 2010.

    But Valverde, who also has the overall 2009 Vuelta a Espana to his account, sees himself as a contender for the Tour de France this year. Even though the 2012 parcours has widely been branded as one for the better time triallists, the Movistar rider believes in his chances to take the yellow jersey.

    "My idea is to fight for the general classification," said the 31-year-old, who already has two top ten results in the Tour to his name (in 2007 and 2008). "It's clear that the amount of time trial kilometres favours those riders who are specialists against the clock, like Wiggins or Evans. But the Tour is the Tour, it is very long and anything can happen, it can be over at any day. So I will do my utmost to be there, to do the best I can, even if, to me, the favourite is Andy Schleck.

    "He wants to win it, but so do I. In the time trial, we are about on the same level. I think the Tour 2012 will be very open."

  • Offredo: my whereabouts sanction was too severe

    Article published:
    March 20, 2012, 12:00
    Cycling News

    Frenchman sidelined until 2013

    Yoann Offredo has said that his one-year suspension for three violations of the whereabouts system was too severe, although the FDJ-BigMat rider has accepted that it was not unjust to sanction him for the offence.

    Offredo missed three anti-doping controls within an eighteen-month period and was handed a one-year ban by the French Cycling Federation in February. The riders' association CPA has pleaded his cause, as one of the missed tests was his team management's fault, but the suspension still took effect.

    “The decision isn’t especially unfair because there are rules, for everybody. I’ve never called the whereabouts system into question, but only the proportionality of the sanction,” Offredo told L’Équipe. “I find it hard to accept being sanctioned to the same extent as a rider who doped. I find it hard to understand why the commission didn’t take my good faith into consideration, or my exemplary biological passport.”

    Offredo has until April 5 to decide if he wishes to appeal the matter to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, but in any case, the Frenchman will miss out on the spring classics, where he had been touted to continue his progress from the past two seasons. He admitted that he avoided watching Saturday’s Milan-San Remo, a race which he ignited twelve months ago with an attack on the descent of the Cipressa, en route to a 7th place finish.

    “It’s hard because I had been thinking about it for a year. Since the last Milan-San Remo, I thought of this year’s one, and every day in training, I had Milan and the Poggio in the back of mind,” he said. “I’m not saying that I would have won or that I would have been in the top ten, but in any case, I had it in my head. I was only training for that.

    “It’s a strange feeling, not one of injustice but more of frustration, of saying, ‘damn, I’d love to have been there’ or ‘I’d have done that’… So I preferred not to watch it. But I couldn’t help keeping an eye on the internet from time to time.”

    Offredo said that he had contemplated quitting cycling in the days that followed the announcement of his suspension, and discussed the matter with FDJ-BigMat manager Marc Madiot and coach Fred Grappe.

    “But other people’s truth is not your own, so it was more of a dialogue with my subconscious, which on one side told me ‘stop’ and the other said, ‘keep going, this is what you’re made for.’ But for four or five days, I told myself I was going to quit.”

    That internal debate negotiated, Offredo has since returned to the saddle. “I did two hours the other day, but at an average of 39kph. I need this feeling of going beyond myself, of coming back tired, of having sore legs and feeling hungry in the evening… I need it, I was missing it.”

  • Bayern Rundfahrt announces final ten teams

    One final white flag to start the 2011 Bayern Rundfahrt before the race packs up for next year.
    Article published:
    March 20, 2012, 12:23
    Cycling News

    Five Pro Continental teams and five German Continental teams round out field

    Five Professional Continental and five Continental teams round out the field for this year's Bayern Rundfahrt, taking place from May 22-27. At least three of the Professional Continental teams are still in the running for a start in the Tour de France, the race organisers pointed out. 

    The Professional Continental teams are Team NetApp, Topsport-Vlaanderen-Mercator, Saur-Sojasun, Europcar, and Project 1t4i.  The five Continental teams are all from Germany:  Eddy Merckx Indeland, Heizomat, NSP-Ghost, Thüringer Energie and Nutrixxion-Abus.

    These ten squads will join nine previously announced WorldTour teams: Euskaltel-Euskadi, FDJ Big Mat, Garmin-Barracuda, RadioShack-Nissan, GreenEdge, Katusha, Lampre-ISD, Sky and Saxo Bank.

    “We are staying true to our principles of having the absolute world's best at the start, but also giving young German riders a chance,” said race head Ewald Strohmeier. “This mixture promises a race that we can look forward to.”

    The race's new sport director, Helmut Bölts, who won stages at the event in 1993 and 1994, agreed. “We shouldn't underestimate the smaller outfits. The Continental teams come with their best riders and will do everything to make lift tough for the top stars. For most of them, the Bayern Rundfahrt is the absolute season highlight.”

    The teams have not yet announced who will ride, but the race is hoping for such riders as Germans Marcel Kittel, John Degenkolb and Roger Kluge from Project 1t4i, or Thomas Voeckler from Europcar.