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First Edition Cycling News, Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Date published:
October 20, 2009, 1:00 BST
  • Contador ends season as world number one

    Alberto Contador
    Article published:
    October 19, 2009, 16:05 BST
    Richard Tyler

    Sánchez and Gilbert late movers, Spanish dominant in 2009

    Alberto Contador has spearheaded a dominant season for Spanish cycling after finishing on top of the International Cycling Union's (UCI) world rankings, announced on Monday. The Tour de France champion led a Spanish trio, with compatriots Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne) and Samuel Sánchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi) taking second and third in the individual rankings, respectively. Contador's trade team Astana finished the season at the top of the team rankings, while Spain finished well clear of Italy as the top nation.

    Contador's success this season helped him become the inaugural champion in the UCI's world ranking system. The new system was implemented as a replacement for the ProTour rankings, which due to disputes between race organisers and the UCI had last year, failed to incorporate results from any of the three Grand Tours, Milan-San Remo, Tour of Flanders, Paris-Roubaix or Liège-Bastogne-Liège. The revised UCI World Calendar ensured that the rankings announced today include results from those seven events.

    Despite competing in just four of the 14 UCI World Calendar events in 2009, Contador's victories at the Tour de France and Vuelta Ciclista al Pais Vasco, and high finishes at Paris-Nice and the Dauphiné Libéré were enough to finish world number one. He finished with 527 points, 44 ahead of Vuelta a España winner Valverde (487 points) and 170 in front of Vuelta and Giro di Lombardia runner-up Sánchez (357 points).

    Sánchez was one of the most prominent movers in the final world rankings. The Euskaltel rider moved from eighth to replace Andy Schleck in third place. Sánchez secured his position in the rankings with a second place finish in the final event on the UCI World Calendar, Saturday's Giro di Lombardia. The results of the Italian race also saw winner, Philippe Gilbert (Silence-Lotto), catapulted into the world top-10, from 20th to ninth place.

  • Gilbert named Belgian rider of the year

    Boonen and Gilbert enjoy the podium moment.
    Article published:
    October 19, 2009, 17:58 BST
    Richard Tyler

    Wallonian edges out Boonen and Devolder, Cavendish picks up international award

    Philippe Gilbert's success this season has been acknowledged by his compatriots, after he was named Belgian cyclist of the year at the Flandrien 2009 award ceremony in Belgium on Saturday. A jury of Belgian team managers and media personalities elected the Silence-Lotto rider as the nation's top professional rider, ahead of Quick Step teammates Tom Boonen and Stijn Devolder. Mark Cavendish (Columbia-HTC) was also named the top international professional.

    Gilbert was awarded the accolade hours after he claimed the Giro di Lombardia, his fourth victory within a week and a half. Speaking via a video link from his team hotel in Italy, Gilbert expressed his satisfaction with his season.

    "This is such an important trophy," said Gilbert, according to Belgian newspaper Het Nieuwsblad. "This is a nice award for me to receive. I've worked hard this year for my results. That [my results are] appreciated by the rest of the pack is something I attach great importance to."

    Gilbert's has enjoyed his most successful season as a professional, with seven victories. Saturday's triumph in Lombardia had been preceded by victories in the Giro del'Piamonte, Paris-Tours, Coppa Sabatini. He claimed a stage and the overall at the Ster Elektroder and a stage win at the Giro d'Italia.

    It was the second year in a row that a Silence-Lotto rider has claimed the award. Gilbert's teammate Greg Van Avermaet had been the recipient 12 months previously.

    Mark Cavendish's success this season was also acknowledged as he accepted the award for the International Flandrien of the year.

    "It's a tremendous honour to get this award," Cavendish said afterwards, "something really important to me. You just look at the names of the people who've received this prize before, like Fabian Cancellara last year, and you can see how special it really is. As a kid I would watch Belgian bike races for hours on tv, and I love racing there now because the...

  • Astana sign Tiralongo on two-year contract

    Paolo Tiralongo (Lampre - N.G.C) on the attack.
    Article published:
    October 20, 2009, 11:12 BST
    Peter Cossins

    Tiralongo leaves Lampre after four years, Pietropolli transfers in to Lampre from LPR

    Lampre-NGC rider Paolo Tiralongo has announced on his web page that he has signed a two-year deal with Astana. The 32-year-old Italian finished eighth in this year’s Vuelta a España in what turned out to be the last of his four seasons with Lampre.

    Among his new teammates is Tour de France champion Alberto Contador, and both riders will be keen to hear today’s decision by the International Cycling Union's (UCI) licensing commission over Astana’s application to continue in the ProTour.

    While Tiralongo heads out of Lampre, LPR’s Daniele Pietropolli will head in, after he signed a two-year contract with Beppe Saronni's team.

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  • Xacobeo hoping for Giro return

    Ezequiel Mosquera (Xacobeo Galicia)
    Article published:
    October 20, 2009, 11:40 BST
    Peter Cossins

    Spanish team will send Mosquera to Milan for Saturday's Giro presentation

    Spanish pro continental team Xacobeo-Galicia are sending team leader Ezequiel Mosquera to Milan for this Saturday's presentation of the Giro d'Italia, in the hope that it might assist their efforts to get a wild card invitation to next year's corsa rosa.

    Alvaro Pino's team received an invite to this year's race, but their hopes of making an impact were hit when Mosquera suffered an injury at home just days before the race and could not start. Back-up team leader Gustavo César Veloso was then affected by allergies and failed to produce his best form. The misfortunes resulted in the team failing to make the impression that they and Giro organisers RCS had hoped for.

    "The organisation was pleased with us, but that might not be sufficient," Pino admitted to the Faro de Vigo. Competition for places in all of the Grand Tours is likely to be tougher than ever next year due to the emergence of squads such as RadioShack and Team Sky.

    But Pino is viewing Mosquera's invite to the Milan presentation as a positive omen. With 18 elite teams likely to be guaranteed entry, Pino is hoping that his team can take one of the four supplementary slots expected to be on offer. The possible recruitment of 2006 Tour winner Oscar Pereiro should help in this respect, although a move from Caisse d'Epargne has yet to be confirmed.

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  • Lövkvist motivated for new challenges at Team Sky

    Team Columbia - Highroad teammates Mark Cavendish and Thomas Lövkvist share a word after Cavendish's victory.
    Article published:
    October 20, 2009, 12:00 BST
    Gregor Brown

    Swede ends two years with Columbia-HTC, looks ahead to 2010 Tour de France

    Swede Thomas Lövkvist ended two years with Columbia-HTC on Saturday at the Giro di Lombardia in Como, Italy. He leaves the USA-based team to ride for new British ProTour squad, Team Sky.

    At Sky "there are a lot of new ideas and new mentalities. There's a lot I am looking forward to," Lövkvist told Cyclingnews.

    Lövkvist said he wants to ride the 2010 Tour de France as one of Sky's general classification leaders. Tour organiser, Amaury Sports Organisation (ASO), presented the race's route last Wednesday in Paris. The Tour will feature three mountain top finishes, a stage over cobbled sectors also included in April's Paris-Roubaix and minimal time trialling.

    "It looks hard," said Lövkvist. "The cobblestones in northern France stand out.

    "It would have suited me to have more time trialling because I think we will have a really good time trial team. But, no matter how they create the route, it is always hard."

    Lövkvist led this year's Giro d'Italia for one day, thanks to Columbia's win in the team time trial and his seventh place to the first mountain top finish on stage four of the race. He finished 25th overall after three weeks at the Giro d'Italia.

    "He's exactly the type of guy cycling will be built around," said Columbia manager Bob Stapleton at the time. "He's extremely intelligent and focused. He's got a fantastic character. He doesn't tolerate weaknesses."

    He also won Monte Paschi Eroica and a stage of the Sachsen Tour. Last year, Lövkvist placed 38th at the Tour de France, third at Tirreno-Adriatico, fifth at the Tour de Suisse and second at the Deutschland Tour.

    "I have a lot of good memories and will miss some of it. I've enjoyed my time with my Columbia teammates and staff," Lövkvist continued.

    Lövkvist became professional with Team...

  • Garmin extend sponsorship through 2013

    Garmin-Slipstream pushing the pace on stage three of Franco-Belge.
    Article published:
    October 20, 2009, 12:55 BST
    Richard Tyler

    Vaughters looks forward to the future

    Garmin announced on Tuesday that they have extended their sponsorship of Garmin-Slipstream, for a further three years. The American team's manager Jonathan Vaughters said the deal, which will see Garmin remain as title sponsor until at least 2013, will allow the team to reach its long term goals.

    "When Garmin first decided to partner with us, we said we believed that a new era of cycling was upon us. Today, with this significant extension, we can now say – the era is here," said Vaughters.

    "Garmin’s commitment to innovation and integrity mirrors our own, and knowing that we have their partnership for the next four years means that we can continue to develop the next generation of cycling champions."

    Garmin, who produce global positioning systems (GPS), said that they had been pleased with the global exposure the team had provided the company since joining as principal sponsor prior to the 2008 Tour de France.

    "The success of the team spans the globe and surpassed our expectations for the first year and a half of our title sponsorship, bringing Garmin’s reputation for quality, commitment, performance and productivity into countless households in Europe, North America, Asia and Australia," said Jon Cassat, Garmin’s vice president of communications.

    "Our objectives were – and continue to be – to integrate our products on sports’ biggest stages and to build global brand awareness. Whether capturing victories around the world, winning national championships or working to develop future generations of talent, Garmin-Slipstream has helped us achieve those objectives and has made an impression on billions of potential customers."

    Since their formation in 2007, Garmin-Slipstream has become one of the Worlds most successful teams. The squad underlined their strength this year with 29 victories. Their success included three stage wins at last month's Vuelta a España and Bradley...

  • New summit finish for 2010 Vuelta?

    The Vuelta peloton
    Article published:
    October 20, 2009, 13:21 BST
    Peter Cossins

    Unipublic enthusiastic about potential stage to Bola del Mundo

    The presentation of the 2010 Vuelta a España is still almost two months away, but details of a likely new summit finish in the mountains north of Madrid have leaked out in the Spanish press. According to well-placed sources, race organisers Unipublic are investigating the possibility of taking a stage to the 2265-metre summit of the Bola del Mundo in the Sierra de Guadarrama.

    Fans of the Vuelta will recognise the summit from stages that run over the Alto de Navacerrada, which featured twice on this year's race route. From the summit of that key road pass, a road winds up through forests, climbing another 400 metres to the telecommunications masts on the windswept Bola del Mundo.

    The news about the possible new climb was inadvertently released by a local mayor and was picked up in Spanish daily AS. Initially thought to be little more than a subject under discussion, the project is now reported to have the backing of Unipublic director-general Javier Guillén, who commented: "We would like the stage on the Bola del Mundo to coincide with [next year's] 75th anniversary of the race. The red [leader's] jersey, which will be one of the other innovations in that edition, could even be decided on that summit. I am sure that if this is the case it will be a spectacular stage."

    The project is also being vigorously backed by former Spanish cycling star Pedro Delgado, who comes from the nearby city of Segovia. Delgado and Guillén have inspected the summit to assess its viability for hosting the race. A meeting is set to take place on November 4 between the Vuelta's organisers and local mayors to discuss any final issues before a decision is made.

    If all goes well, the Bola del Mundo could feature on the Vuelta's route when it is announced in Sevilla on December 16.

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  • Rodríguez closes four years with Caisse in Japan

    Spaniard Joaquím Rodríguez (Caisse d'Epargne)
    Article published:
    October 20, 2009, 14:01 BST
    Gregor Brown

    Spaniard seeks revenge for Lombardia at Japan Cup

    Spaniard Joaquím Rodríguez will close four years with team Caisse d'Epargne at the Japan Cup on Sunday. Rodríguez, who will race with Katusha in 2010, is a favourite for the Japanese race after his third in the World Championships and will be out for revenge after a disappointing Giro di Lombardia last Saturday.

    "It is the last race of the year and I'm not ruling anything out," he said. "I want to say good-bye to the team properly."

    Rodríguez was a favourite for the Giro di Lombardia on Saturday, but suffered with stomach aches after he ate on the eve of the race. He spent the night in pain and woke up the next morning feeling ill.

    He achieved his best result, 20th, in the Giro di Lombardia in 2004. Last year he placed 28th, but on Saturday he abandoned the 242-kilometre race before its finish in Como, Italy.

    "I won't close my career at Caisse d'Epargne with an abandon. It is not my style."

    The Japan Cup is in its 18th year and past winners have included Damiano Cunego, Gilberto Simoni and Claudio Chiappucci. It is a challenging race that often decided on the Tsuru climb near the finish.

    This season, Rodríguez won a stages at the Tirreno-Adriatico and Vuelta a Burgos, and finished second in Liège-Bastogne-Liège.

    He signed a contract earlier this year to join Russian team Katusha for 2010.

    Rodríguez will be joined at the Japan Cup by Caisse d'Epargne teammates: Imanol Erviti, Pablo Lastras, David López and Dani Moreno.

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