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First Edition Cycling News, Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Date published:
March 30, 2010, 1:00 BST
  • Rasmussen responds to stories in the media

    Michael Rasmussen returns with the Italian Miche team.
    Article published:
    March 29, 2010, 17:55 BST
    Cycling News

    Dane says he could sign with a ProTour in the next 48 hours

    Dane Michael Rasmussen responded to news reports claiming that he said that he wished several of the sport's leaders dead, saying that the press has taken his comments out of context and that he meant nothing of the sort.

    "My words have gotten translated so many times they have lost all their meaning," Rasmussen told Cyclingnews. He also issued a statement explaining how the miscommunication happened.

    ”I explained in an interview in the Danish newspaper, Weekendavisen, about the irrational feelings that characterize you as a man, when you are stoked by heavy grief and anger.

    "In that context I described that you in a fully abstract way may have very negative feelings towards the resistance you are met with. This has, by other media, been presented as if I should have wanted named persons to get hurt or even die. I have never said or meant what so ever.

    "I understand if people who see themselves in such a connection feel offended. I am sorry that these people due to false stories in the media are exposed to this kind of unpleasant experiences. I cannot determine what the media writes, but I can say what I mean. I never wished any harm to anyone,” Rasmussen said.

    The Dane was expelled by his team from the 2007 Tour de France for violating the UCI's whereabouts policies in the time leading up to the Tour. He was in the yellow jersey with a strong chance at taking home the overall win when he was suddenly ejected from the race and his team. He fought his two-year suspension that followed to no avail.

    Rasmussen claimed he was training in Mexico in June that year, and filed his whereabouts as such, but was spotted by an Italian journalist training in Italy. He argued that his team knew exactly where he was at the time and they were wrong to fire him. He won 665,000 euro, a tenth of what his lawyers had requested.

    He made his return to the sport last summer, and now rides...

  • Fofonov rejuvenated at Astana

    Dmitri Fofonov (Astana)
    Article published:
    March 29, 2010, 21:07 BST
    Jean-François Quénet

    Kazakhs will skip Asian titles for Basque tour

    Former Cofidis and Crédit Agricole rider Dmitri Fofonov is happy to be back in the ProTour with the Astana team. Coming off the Criterium International, Fofonov reflected on last season's Asian Continental championships where he claimed the road race title. Now that he has a European team, he will not contest next month's Asian championships in Dubai.

    The Kazakh rider was left without a team following a positive dope test at the end of the 2008 Tour de France. His ban was lifted by the sport authorities but he had to wait for Johan Bruyneel's exit as Astana's manager to be able to receive a place in the squad backed by his country.

    Now, both he and Vinokourov provide support for Alberto Contador on the Astana team which, for the first time since 2006, is registered as a Kazakh team this year.

    "We're very happy with how the team is going," Fofonov said. "We're confident that all of us will keep giving Alberto Contador strong support. We haven't won here at the Criterium International but it's not a drama. It shows that we're all humans. As for myself, I can tell you that I'm not finished. I've re-started from zero but now it's all good."

    He spent last season racing with the Kazakh national team alongside Alexander Vinokourov, who was also in the same boat coming off his two-year ban. Both contested the Asian championships in Indonesia last year with Fofonov winning the road race and Vinokourov the time trial.

    "It was something good for my motivation," Fofonov told Cyclingnews. "It was fun for us to go and ride in Indonesia but it took two days to fly to the race after the Tour de l'Ain," Fofonov recalled. "We had to reach Balikpapan and then go on a bus for three and half hours."

    It didn't prevent Kazakhstan from taking the first three positions in the road race with Fofonov finishing solo ahead of Vinokourov and Valentin Iglinskiy coming third.

    "We wanted to write a page of cycling...

  • Aussie Wurf gets Classics opportunity at Androni Giocattoli

    Cameron Wurf (Androni Giocattoli - Serramenti Diquigiovanni)
    Article published:
    March 30, 2010, 9:42 BST
    Greg Johnson

    Tasmanian focusing on developing as a domestique

    Australia's Cameron Wurf didn't sign a professional contract until mid-February this year, yet he's been thrown into the deep end as a member of Androni Giocattoli's Classics program. In just four weeks of racing with the Italian Professional Continental outfit Wurf has already contested Milan-San Remo, but that won't be the only major spring race the Tasmanian rides this year.

    Wurf's steep learning curve will continue this week at Settimana Ciclistica Lombarda, where he'll prepare for his Paris-Roubaix debut. "I rode three one-day races in Italy within the first week of arriving here, so that was a bit of a shock with the climate change from summer in Tasmania," said Wurf. "I must have gone okay as Gianni Savio put me into the Torino team the following week, which is a very important race for the team, then Milan-San Remo, so I really can't complain about my program.

    "I feel like I have fitted in pretty well," he added. "This season I would really like to develop in the role of a domestique and at this team it is a role that fits well for me. We have some really great riders in Michele Scarponi and Francesco Ginanni so it is very enjoyable riding for these guys; they always show appreciation for the effort you put in, which is nice. Also, if they ask you to work it's highly likely they will finish up front, so it is a very motivating environment in which to be a part."

    While making a Paris-Roubaix debut is a dream for any professional, Wurf's program could get even better if he continues to impress the team's management. His program will be decided in time, but Wurf believes he will contest Liège - Bastogne – Liège and La Fléche Wallonne where he wants to prove he's worthy of a Giro d'Italia start.

    "It is a real thrill to be riding the big Classics, although having not ridden on the cobbles of Roubaix before it sure will be a baptism of fire... I don't mind that," he said. "I would love to ride the...

  • Evans turns attention to Giro preparation

    World champion Cadel Evans (BMC Racing) after the finish of stage three.
    Article published:
    March 30, 2010, 10:21 BST
    Les Clarke

    Ardennes Classics important for world champ and teammates

    UCI road race world champion Cadel Evans says he'll be a happy helper for BMC Racing teammate Karsten Kroon in this year's edition of Amstel Gold Race, which also serves as vital preparation for the Australian's Giro d'Italia campaign.

    Speaking after his sixth place overall at last weekend's Critérium International, Evans admitted that his form in the time trial needs to improve, although he's not unhappy with his riding overall at the French event.

    "Eighth in the stage and slipping down to sixth overall is not normally the way I like to finish a stage race but it's still early in the year for me, not only in terms of stage races and going for the overall but also time trialling - that was my first time trial for the year," said Evans.

    "The bike was good for the first TT; it just takes a bit of time to get used to and it's difficult to simulate 75km/h through a roundabout in training... so that took a little bit of getting used to. It's pretty good - it's not great, but...

    "It was a good start but I still have room for improvement in the time trial," added the Australian, whose next race against the clock will be the Giro d'Italia prologue in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, on May 8.

    BMC Racing's focus will turn to the northern and Ardennes Classics, and it's the latter where Evans will be vital to the chances of Karsten Kroon, the experienced Dutchman who took second in Amstel Gold Race last season and switched from Saxo Bank during the winter.

    The world champion won't be going to the hilly Classics where he has traditionally performed well in search of a win, rather using the next period of racing as part of his preparations for May.

    "I'm going into a bit of a training phase - more specific training, and time trialing is a part of that," said Evans. "It's all a pretty normal grand tour rider's thing; you ride a fair bit in the mountains, ride a fair bit on your time trial bike and continue...

  • Liquigas sends young team to Turkey

    The Liquigas Doimo team
    Article published:
    March 30, 2010, 10:57 BST
    Cycling News

    Bennati and Sagan to rest before Giro d'Italia

    Liquigas-Doimo will send a young squad to Istanbul for its first participation in the Presidential Cycling Tour of Turkey, to be held April 11-18, with the focus on developing the Italian outfit's youth stocks.

    While staff had considered sending Daniele Bennati and Peter Sagan, the good form of both riders in the early season, in addition to the squad's chances in May's Giro d'Italia meant that directeur sportif Dario Mariuzzo will hand the likes of Elia Viviani an opportunity to test their mettle against some of the world's best.

    "Originally, we thought we'd take Daniele Bennati and Peter Sagan to the Tour of Turkey," said Mariuzzo. "But we have to give them a rest after they delivered great results. Bennati will not take part in any stage race until the Giro d'Italia.

    Sagan is only 20 years old - he amazed everyone during Paris-Nice but we shouldn't be too enthusiastic too quickly about him. However, the Tour of Turkey is very important to us because we do have great champions at Liquigas-Doimo but we also have great up-and-coming riders. We want to develop them," he added.

    Viviani won a stage in the Tour of Cuba this year and will go to Turkey to challenge the likes of HTC-Columbia's André Greipel and Sacha Modolo (Colnago-CSF), the young Italian who recently finished fourth in Milan-San Remo.

    "In many professional teams, when a young rider arrives, he gets tested by his work in the service of the captains," Mariuzzo continued. "We have a different approach this time; our guys will have the opportunity to ride for themselves. They'll be more than welcome to try and win a stage. The Tour of Turkey will reveal their personality and their motivation."

    Tiziano Dall'Antonia will also line up for Liquigas-Doimo, having ridden the past two editions of the Tour of Turkey. Polish time triallist Maciej Bodnar will focus on the prologue in Istanbul as he'll resume racing after breaking a collarbone in December.

  • Lefevere blasts Belgian Federation, Devolder and Weylandt

    Quick Step Team Manager Patrick Lefevere
    Article published:
    March 30, 2010, 11:02 BST
    Cycling News

    Quick Step boss expects more from riders, compensation for Keisse crash

    Never one to mince his words, Quick Step team manager Patrick Lefevere has heavily criticised the Belgian Cycling Federation and two of his Belgian stars - Stijn Devolder and Wouter Weylandt - after a lacklustre start to the team's Classics campaign.

    In an interview with P Magazine titled 'Patrick Lefevere throws bombs', which will appear in Belgium later today, the experienced team manager unleashed his frustration with his riders and the Belgian Cycling Federation, although it was Devolder, Weylandt and Iljo Keisse who received the closest attention.

    "It bothers me greatly that I have not even seen him once," Lefevere said of Devolder, who has won the past two editions of the Tour of Flanders. "I don't like riders that peak for a race. Then you put too much pressure on your shoulders.

    "After that one [race] the decompression rate is so high that we lose him again for a long time. Riders pay the price for preparing for one race a year," Lefevere added.

    And it appears that Weylandt has fallen well out of favour with his manager. "He won Nokere Koerse once, had a [good] ride in the Three Days of West Flanders and one in the Vuelta Espana. But then: nothing, except his mouth. For those riders time is really running out," Lefevere warned.

    Tom Boonen was spared from Lefevere's scathing tongue, the golden boy of Belgian cycling "now stronger than before", according to his boss. "He has become calmer in his head. He has finally decided to permanently live in Monaco and [Boonen's girlfriend] Lore has drawn a line under what has gone wrong in recent years," he said.

    The Keisse dillemma

    Iljo Keisse also came in for the 'Lefevere treatment', the Belgian track rider breaking his collarbone in training for the UCI Track World Championships, having previously chosen to avoid the sprint at Nokere-Koerse for fear of injury. Lefevere is now faced with the possibility of seeking...

  • Tour de France organiser announces 22 teams for 2010 race

    Reigning Tour champion Alberto Contador gives the 2010 route a thumbs up.
    Article published:
    March 30, 2010, 11:34 BST
    Cycling News

    Armstrong, Evans assured spots as Dutch Professional Continental teams are shut out

    Garmin-Transitions, Team RadioShack, BMC Racing Team, Team Sky, Katusha and Cervelo TestTeam have received wild card invitations to the 2010 Tour de France, race organisers Amaury Sports Organisation announced Tuesday.

    These six squads join the 16 teams which were automatically selected under a September 2008 agreement with the UCI.

    Neither Skil-Shimano nor Vacansoleil was selected. Both Dutch Professional Continental teams had hoped to ride, since the Tour starts in the Netherlands on July 3. New French team Saur-Sojasun also missed out.

    The wild card invitations mean the Tour de France will feature all the big names in the peloton, including seven-time Tour winner Lance Armstrong (RadioShack), World Champion Cadel Evans (BMC), Christian Vande Velde (Garmin-Transitions) who finished fourth overall in 2008 and Bradley Wiggins (Team Sky), who was fourth last year.

    The 16 automatically-selected teams under the 2008 agreement are: Team Milram, Quick Step, Omega Pharma-Lotto, Team Saxo Bank, Caisse d'Epargne, Euskaltel-Euskadi, Footon-Servetto, HTC-Columbia, AG2R La Mondiale, Bbox Bouygues Telecom, Cofidis, Francaise des Jeux, Lampre-Farnese, Liquigas-Doimo, Astana, and Rabobank.

    Wild card invitations: Garmin-Transitions, Team RadioShack, BMC Racing Team, Team Sky, Katusha, and Cervelo TestTeam.

    As of next year, the selection process will change under an agreement between the organisers of the three Grand Tours and the UCI. The first 17 teams in the world ranking as of the end of the 2010 season will automatically be invited to the 2011 Tour de France and the organisers can issue wildcard invitations to fill the remaining places.

    This year, ASO was required to invite the 18 ProTour teams from 2008. Two of those teams - Crédit Agricole and Gerolsteiner - no longer exist, so the remaining 16 ProTour squads from 2008 were invited, freeing up two extra spaces for team invitations.

  • Brailsford delighted with Team Sky Tour de France invitation

    Team Sky in full flight
    Article published:
    March 30, 2010, 13:39 BST
    Stephen Farrand

    Bradley Wiggins to lead team in France

    Team Sky principal Dave Brailsford was delighted to hear the news that the British team had secured one of the 22 places in this year's Tour de France.

    As a new squad in the peloton, Team Sky were not part of the 2008 agreement that automatically gave 16 teams an invitation to the Tour, and had to convince Tour de France organisers ASO that they deserved a wild card invitation.

    With the Tour de France starting in Rotterdam, Team Sky faced competition from Dutch teams Vacansoleil and Skil-Shimano, and new French team Saur-Sojasun, but secured a wild card invitation along with Lance Armstrong's RadioShack team, BMC, Garmin-Transitions, Katusha and Cervelo Test Team.

    "Riding the Tour de France was a major goal for us in our inaugural season. We've been competing for a place in the world's biggest road race in the early part of the season.  Now our second objective is to perform in the Tour in July," Brailsford told Cyclingnews after hearing the news.

    "I want to thank ASO for showing their confidence in the team and we'll be do everything we can to create an exciting race. They've given us a great opportunity to take a British team to the Tour de France."

    "I think one of the factors that went into the mix for selection was that we've made it clear we are a clean team and that we will try to win the Tour de France clean. I also want to thank Jeremy Darroch at BSkyB, Sky Italia and News Corporation for believing and backing the team and for their support of cycling in the UK."

    "Obviously the credit for getting the place in the Tour de France goes firstly to the riders. They earned it with their great early season performances and now they can look forward to being at the start of the Tour in Rotterdam."

    Wiggins to lead Team Sky at the Tour

    The Team Sky line-up for the Tour de France will be spearheaded by Bradley Wiggins, who finished fourth last year, while riding for the...