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First Edition Cycling News, Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Date published:
May 17, 2011, 1:00 BST
  • Haedo brings sprint back to Amgen Tour of California

    JJ Haedo (Saxo Bank Sungard)
    Article published:
    May 16, 2011, 12:50 BST
    Kirsten Frattini

    Argentine eyes world title in Copenhagen

    Juan Jose Haedo (Saxo Bank-SunGard) is a five-time stage winner of the Amgen Tour of California and he is in pursuit of a sixth win this week. The Argentine sprinter is one of the faster riders in the peloton, eyeing the top spot on the podium in stages two, five and eight.

    "I think I'm ready for the sprints here," Haedo told Cyclingnews. "I'm struggling a little with the altitude here in Lake Tahoe because it's not too normal for me. But besides that, as soon as we get back to sea level, I can look for the stage two as a possible win."

    Haedo won two stages in the 2006 edition while racing for the US-based team Toyota United. He went on to win another two stages during the 2007 edition where he secured the event's overall points classification while racing his first season with CSC. He also won one stage in 2008.

    This year, he returns with a strong team that includes his brother and occasional lead-out man Lucas Sebastian, who recently recovered from a knee injury sustained following a crash in Paris-Nice earlier this year.

    The team will be looking to deliver Haedo to a stage win during the stage two that is scheduled to begin in Squaw Valley, weather permitting, and end on the streets of Sacramento. Winter storms lead to the opening stage being cancelled and race organizers will announce any delays or course revisions to stage two a...

  • Amgen Tour of California stage two start moved to Nevada City

    A snowman holds a sign along the race route on Highway 89 after stage one of the 2011 Amgen Tour of California from South Lake Tahoe to North Lake Tahoe was cancelled
    Article published:
    May 16, 2011, 13:40 BST
    Cycling News

    Organiser forced to reshuffle route due to bad weather conditions

    The organisers of the Amgen Tour of California have announced a drastic modification to the start of stage two of the event, due to the winter weather and road conditions that already caused the cancellation of stage one on Sunday. Originally scheduled to start in Squaw Valley, race officials calculated that the best way to ensure a complete course for the second stage was to move the official start to Nevada City, and to add two laps to the final circuit in Sacramento.

    Following the start from Broad Street in Nevada City at 12.15pm - a time that has also been modified - the riders will travel approximately 61 miles to Sacramento, picking up the original stage two route. The peloton should enter Sacramento at approximately 3pm and complete three circuit laps before finishing in front of the Capitol Building between 3.30 and 3.45pm. The race's original schedule called for only one complete circuit, but due to the modified course, the additional two circuits were added.

    "Thanks to the quick action taken by Duane Strawser, Nevada City's 2010 local organizing committee chairman, we were able to make this location change, allowing us a great and practical location to lead off today's race," said Andrew Messick, president of the organising AEG Sports.

    Messick regretted that the original route had to be amended but vowed that the event would return to the splendid scenery of Lake Tahoe.

    "We owe a debt of gratitude to Andy Chapman, Carol Chaplin and everyone in Squaw Valley, who worked tirelessly to create what would have been an exceptional stage two start and hope that we will have an opportunity to bring the Amgen Tour of California to the city in a future year."

    An updated course map for today's stage will be posted on the official race website later this morning.

  • Boom starts second part of 2011 season at Amgen Tour of California

    Lars Boom (Rabobank) was in confident mood before the start.
    Article published:
    May 16, 2011, 14:24 BST
    Cycling News

    Rabobank rider gained confidence in Roubaix, remains with Rabobank

    Lars Boom of the Rabobank squad is looking forward to the second part of the cycling season, starting for him at the Amgen Tour of California. The former cyclo-cross world champion took a break from racing after the Spring Classics and is now building up his form again in view of the Dutch championships in June.

    Boom spent the past week in California, training for the stage race. "I rode around San Francisco, I even went over the Golden Gate bridge. The weather was awesome. Together with my girlfriend, we really enjoyed this wonderful scenery," the 25-year-old said on the Rabobank team website.

    Along with other riders, the 2011 Dutch cyclo-cross champion regretted that stage one around Lake Tahoe was cancelled, but looked forward to the next stages where he wants to get back into the rhythm of racing. "After the Spring Classics, I took some rest and then started to increase my training intensity again three weeks ago. This week, I just want to be part of the race and see what happens.

    "We have a good squad here, and I want to contribute to that. On Monday [stage two], the finish is in Sacramento, it's important for Rabobank. We want to bring Oscar Freire or Michael Matthews in a good position there."

    Building up for his national championships, Boom doesn't know whether he'll race the Tour de France yet, but was looking very much forward to the second part of the season as his spring campaign has given him further confidence. He finished ninth in...

  • Savio credits Androni atmosphere for Rujano renaissance

    Gianni Savio (left) and Jose Rujano at the start
    Article published:
    May 16, 2011, 17:52 BST
    Barry Ryan

    Venezuelan turns back the clock on Etna

    Perhaps the widest smile atop Mount Etna on Sunday belonged to Androni Giocattoli manager Gianni Savio, as his charge José Rujano was the man to put up the most robust challenge to Alberto Contador's dominance on stage 9 of the Giro d'Italia.

    "I'm really happy," Savio told Cyclingnews at the finish area. "I'm proud that he resisted a great champion like Contador. Our team did a great race, and above all I'm happy for José Rujano."

    Rujano finished in 3rd place at the 2005 Giro when under Savio's stewardship, but has achieved precious little on the world stage since, drifting from team to team and without ever rediscovering the magic formula from his days at the then-Selle Italia squad. Against such a backdrop, Savio was only too keen to depict the Venezuelan's revival on Etna as that of a prodigal son returned to the fold.

    "I discovered him when he was an unknown in a pueblo in the Andes and I brought him to Italy," Savio said, recounting the tale of when Gianni met José. "In three years, along with Marco Bellini, we helped him to grow. We brought him on, and he managed to finish on the podium of the Giro d'Italia."

    In the wake of that startling performance at the Giro, however, things began to go sour, as Rujano angled for a move to pastures ProTour. He departed Savio's squad midway through 2006 to head up Quick Step's Grand Tour challenge, but it only marked the beginning of what seemed a terminal decline.

    "He was badly-advised," Savio said diplomatically. "But time is a galantuomo, a gentleman, a great judge. We took José Rujano on again [ahead of the 2011 season - ed]. We took on a rider who had left us, who hadn't done anything because he was lost. He changed...

  • Förster ready for Tour of California sprints

    Robert Förster (UnitedHealthcare) wins the sprint
    Article published:
    May 16, 2011, 21:38 BST
    Kirsten Frattini

    UnitedHealthcare sprinter ready to take on the best

    Robert Förster is confident in his ability to bring UnitedHealthcare a bunch sprint victory at the Amgen Tour of California.
    The German fast-man is hoping to win the predicted stage two sprint on the finishing circuits in Sacramento.

    “I’m here for sprinting and I think that we have two of three chances at a stage win this week,” Förster told Cyclingnews. “There are a lot of big riders here with [Oscar] Freire and [Thor] Hushovd but I have beaten them in Europe last year. When I have good legs then I can beat them, it’s no problem.”

    Some likely sprint stages include stage three in Modesto, stages five in Paso Robles and stage eight in Thousand Oaks. Other notable sprinters include Daniel Oss (Liquigas-Cannondale), Greg Henderson and Ben Swift (Sky ProCycling), Juan Jose Haedo (Saxo Bank-SunGard) and Matt Goss (HTC-Highroad).

    “The first stage would have been good for me because it was hilly and a good way to open the legs. I haven’t raced in ten days and it was important that I have one stage before the first sprint stage. It helps to open the legs a little bit."

    Förster is a respected sprinter amongst the peloton. He has established himself in the international scene for over a decade racing for teams Nurnberger, Gerolsteiner and Milram. He has won bunch sprints at the Giro d’Italia and Vuelta a Espana, Circuit de la Sarthe, Denmark Rundt, Tour of Turkey, Deutschland Tour and the Volta ao Algarve.

    Förster brought his new US-based Professional Continental team its first season victory at the Tour de Langkawi. He went on to achieve early season success, with two top 10 finishes at the Clasica de Almeria and Vuelta Ciclista a Murcia, and a...

  • Le Mével third at Giro d’Italia despite bronchial tubes infection

    Christophe Le Mevel (Garmin-Cervelo)
    Article published:
    May 17, 2011, 0:56 BST
    Jean-François Quénet

    Garmin-Cervélo keen to prove that a Frenchman can make the top 10

    Christophe Le Mével was not exactly tipped for being third on GC on the first rest day of the Giro d'Italia but consistency in team time trial, transition stages and uphill finishes put him in an ideal position.

    "Today when I came back from training at my hotel, a reporter from La Gazzetta dello Sport was waiting for me because, he said, I had been underestimated at the beginning of the Giro," Le Mével told Cyclingnews in Vasto Marina after the transfer from Sicily to the Adriatic coast.

    It has remained unseen but the Frenchman wasn't feeling well in the past two stages. "Probably because of the dust, my bronchial tubes made me suffer," he said. "I found it hard to breathe during stage 8 but I managed to make the top 10. I was pushing myself to ride near the front of the bunch before the sprint because I wanted to avoid a split and I even thought that a split could make me get the pink jersey."

    Stage 8 to Tropea was Le Mével's last chance to lead the overall classification of the Giro. After missing out on time bonuses on two occasions (stage 3 and stage 5), he was left five seconds behind Pieter Weening when the Dutchman was in pink.

    "Against Alberto Contador on Etna, there was nothing to do," the Breton rider explained. "I was right on his wheel when he attacked with 7km to go. I think he was on the big ring and it was the steepest part of the climb. It was really impressive. No one could go with him. I couldn't, for sure!

    "I've looked at my Garmin files and I was missing ten watts compared to what I can normally do in the climbs. I did my best for hiding behind the other guys and staying protected from the wind,...

  • Amgen Tour of California underway with truncated stage

    Team buses crowd the streets of Nevada City
    Article published:
    May 17, 2011, 2:23 BST
    Laura Weislo

    Start moved to Nevada City after wintry night

    The Amgen Tour of California got underway a day late and almost 100km short with a weather-altered start for stage two. After the first stage at Lake Tahoe was cancelled due to unexpected winter weather, the start of the second day was also impacted by the rare May storm, and moved down from the ski resort at Squaw Valley to last year's start town of Nevada City.

    Race organiser AEG made the call after a significant snowfall coated the roads on Saturday, making the planned traverse of the 2134m high Donner’s Pass impracticable.

    The change dropped the overall distance from 214.4km to 120km for the day, and eliminated the sole mountain sprint and the two planned intermediate sprint bonuses, but the 1200m drop in elevation meant the conditions were significantly improved for the race.

    "We started looking at alternatives to the Squaw Valley start late yesterday afternoon. As we started moving our finish crews to Sacramento, we were notified that Donner's Pass was on chain control," said AEG's Andrew Messick, indicating that cars were required to use chains on their tyres for traction because of the snowy conditions.

    "We had some delays getting the crews to Sacramento and that is when we decided that we had to seriously contemplate options that Donner's Pass would remain closed.

    "We put the call into Nevada City shortly after midnight. It is a place we know well and a place that historically has a deep passion for cycling. They promised us to be ready by six, and sure enough, when we arrived at six, the roads were blocked and volunteers were in place. I don't want to know what they had to do to be prepared for us today."

    The morning ran smoothly thanks to the work of Nevada City and its organising committee head and Vice Mayor, Duane Strawser, who were tasked with making the...

  • Lacombe surprises with fourth in California stage two sprint

    Keven Lacombe (Spidertech) wins the Prix des Marbriers
    Article published:
    May 17, 2011, 3:52 BST
    Kirsten Frattini

    Canadian eyes bunch sprint victory this week

    Keven Lacombe (SpiderTech p/b C10) secured a respectable fourth place in the bunch sprint at the Amgen Tour of California's second stage that finished on the streets of Sacramento. The Canadian fast-man acknowledged the high quality sprinters in attendance but is aiming for a stage win nonetheless.

    "There's some very fast guys here and it's never easy to win a race, you have to be the fastest that day and there are a lot of things that you can't control," Lacombe told Cyclingnews. "It's going to be really, really hard but I think we are better than the years before and we are looking for a stage win."

    Lacombe relied on teammates Martin Gilbert and Zach Bell to bring him into an optimal sprint position during the three short finishing circuits in Sacramento. Lacombe boldly initiated the sprint, however, he was passed by Ben Swift (Sky ProCycling) who won the stage ahead of Peter Sagan (Liquigas-Cannondale) in second and Matt Goss (HTC-Highroad) in third.

    "We tried to control the front because that is so much easier - with the rain and all the corners it was really dangerous," Lacombe said. "I think it really helped me to be fresh for the end. Actually it's a team effort, and at the end I tried to do my best, but the last 50 metres I got passed by three guys. We still have a lot of stages to do, so we will try to do the same and maybe it will work."

    SpiderTech p/b C10 was granted a status upgrade as Canada's first UCI Professional Continental team. Its riders, including Lacombe, spent the majority of the winter and early spring competing on the European circuit. Lacombe...