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First Edition Cycling News, Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Date published:
September 28, 2010, 1:00 BST
  • Cavendish says Worlds course is too difficult

    Mark Cavendish celebrates on the podium in Salamanca.
    Article published:
    September 27, 2010, 22:00 BST
    Barry Ryan

    Manx rider changes mind after riding on route

    Mark Cavendish (HTC-Columbia) has stated that the world championships circuit is more difficult than he had previously anticipated. The Manxman tested the course over the weekend and admitted that he may have to lower his expectations significantly ahead of next Sunday’s road race.

    “The course is certainly too difficult for me,” Cavendish told RTBF. “I hadn’t seen the circuit myself before now.

    “According to what people had been telling me beforehand the rainbow jersey was a possibility, but now that I’ve been able to check it out for myself, I’ll have to revise my ambitions.”

    Cavendish had been bullish about his chances up until the weekend, telling the Sunday Independent, "I'm not going into it thinking 'I'm going to win this'... but there's a chance.”

    The sprinter arrives in Australia after a fine Vuelta a España, where he won three stages and the points classification and, as his victory at the 2009 Milan-San Remo demonstrated, he is more than capable of contesting a sprint finish at the end of a 260km race.

    Opinion on the nature of the Geelong course continues to be varied. While Cavendish’s sprint rivals Oscar Freire (Spain), Tyler Farrar (USA), Thor Hushovd (Norway) and André Greipel (Germany) will all be present and hoping for a bunch finish, Paolo Bettini did not name a recognized sprinter to his Italian squad.

  • Leukemans injures elbow and hip in training crash in Melbourne

    Vacansoleil rider Bjorn Leukemans.
    Article published:
    September 28, 2010, 8:50 BST
    Cycling News

    Belgian to see how he feels on Wednesday

    Björn Leukemans has injured his elbow and hip in a training crash in Melbourne. The number two man on the Belgian world championship team said that he must wait until Wednesday to see how he feels.

    Leukemans was on a training ride with the Belgian team when he touched wheels in Jan Bakelants on a roundabout, sending him down.

    “My right elbow and hip were hurt,” he told Sporza. “I fear mostly for my hip. It's a pretty deep wound. But for now it is too early to say anything. I have to wait until Wednesday.” On that day the team will train on the Worlds road course. “”Then we will know immediately whether it is good or not.”

    Leukemans wlll ride the Worlds in support of team captain and top favourite Philippe Gilbert, but is the team's number two man if Gilbert is unable to ride for the win.

    The 33-year-old, who arrived in Australia last Thursday, had to battle to overcome his jet lag, but yesterday wrote on his website that he has adjusted. Having seen the course, he said that he doesn't believe that a pure sprinter like Mark Cavendish will win. “Rather, I think it will be someone like Hushovd or Freire. Survivors. So it is up to us to ensure that they do not survive.”

  • Julich leaves Saxo Bank management

    Eneco Tour winner Bobby Julich (CSC)
    Article published:
    September 28, 2010, 9:13 BST
    Cycling News

    Contract not extended by Riis

    Bobby Julich is the latest to leave Team Saxo Bank, as his contract as Rider Development Manger is not being extended by team boss Bjarne Riis.

    He joins the ranks of directeur sportif Kim Andersen, communications manager Brian Nygaard and team builder BS Christiansen, all of whom have left the team within the last year, as well a number of riders who are not returning to the Danish team next season. Julich currently has no position for next year but was at the Interbike trade show in Las Vegas, Nevada, talking to a number of teams and companies.

    "I had a pretty interesting conversation with Bjarne after the Vuelta,” Julich told Cyclingnews.

    “It was bizarre because I’ve been with him for seven years and he changed my career path and my character. He was definitely a father figure but we’ve decided to go our separate ways.”

    “Bjarne told me that he needed a new start and I have to say that it wasn’t a unfulfilling conversation because it was done over the phone. Now I’m just moving forward and I’m looking forward to it.”

    Julich will return to Europe in the coming days and finish out his contract with Riis Cycling.

    "We have decided to delegate the task to others in the organisation, “ Riis said, confirming that Julich was no longer with the team.

    Julich, 38, ended his riding career with the Danish team, where he rode from 2004 to 2008. He then joined the team in a management position, focusing on technical development, testing and time trial coaching, as well as the training and development of new young riders.

    Riis described Julich's departure as “difficult but that's the way things go.”

    Julich rode professionally from 1992 to 2008, and his biggest result was finishing third overall n the Tour de France in 1998. After joining the then-Team CSC in 2004, he won both the Criterium International and...

  • Evans ready for every outcome at Worlds

    Cadel Evans (BMC Racing Team)
    Article published:
    September 28, 2010, 9:47 BST
    Les Clarke

    Defending champion says weather conditions could be vital

    Defending UCI road world champion Cadel Evans believes that the weather could play a vital role in determining how Sunday's world championship road race will develop and that the Australian team is equipped to deal with any eventuality that may arise over the 260km world title decider.

    Speaking during the Australian national team's training camp in Canberra ahead of the Worlds in Geelong, Evans was upbeat about not only his form but that of teammates such as Mathew Hayman and Allan Davis.

    "I've had a good training period since the Tour - obviously the broken arm at the Tour meant I had to take some time out and so on... but during August and September training and everything has gone pretty well," said Evans.

    "I haven't had that many races to test myself but the few I had showed promising signs and it's all gone pretty well. I've come over to Australia and it's gone pretty smoothly - we're training well up here in Canberra and most of the guys look like they're going pretty well. They're all motivated and for me it's all good although it's on the day that it's going to count the most."

    Whilst there has been been plenty of speculation about which rider will be best suited to the 16.4km loop around the port city of Geelong, Evans says that the Australian team is well placed to account for any scenario, although Belgium's Philippe Gilbert and Filippo Pozzato are the two big names to watch.

    "Certainly Gilbert and Pozzato [are favourites] in terms of the strongest teams with the best captains - I think going into the race they're the guys to beat. I think we're pretty well placed with a good variety of riders and plenty of experience on the team plus plenty of guys who have raced the Worlds before. They've given their all and plenty of effort for the team in the past," Evans said.

    And despite talk now focusing on the aforementioned Belgian and Italian squads, Evans was quick to add that the fickle Spring weather of the...

  • Cancellara aiming to make history

    Fabian Cancellara (Saxo Bank) on his way to the stage win
    Article published:
    September 28, 2010, 10:28 BST
    Barry Ryan

    Swiss rider eyes fourth time trial crown

    Fabian Cancellara (Saxo Bank) has outlined his ambitions for this week’s world championships in Australia. The Swiss rider is chasing a record fourth world time trial title on Thursday and is also aiming to have his say in Sunday’s road race.

    “I want to make history here,” Cancellara explained at a press conference in Geelong. “Coming after Mick Rogers, who won the time trial three times, it would be great to do better than him.”

    Cancellara, who took the time trial rainbow jersey in 2006, 2007 and 2009, listed his Saxo Bank teammate Richie Porte among the pretenders to his crown. “He surprised the team and the cycling world with a super-great performance in the Giro d’Italia and also the rest of the season,” Cancellara said. “For me, for a first year as a professional, it’s been a great season.”

    Tony Martin (HTC-Columbia) is another rider widely touted to pose a stiff challenge to his superiority in the discipline, but Cancellara was sceptical about the thoroughness of the German’s preparation. “Tony Martin is getting closer, but I don’t understand why he did not finish the Tour of Britain because you have to have tough competition before a time trial like this,” he said.

    Cancellara prepared for the Worlds by competing in the Vuelta a España. He abandoned on the last Friday of the race before confirming that he will leave Saxo Bank at the end of the season.

    Although he suffered a surprise defeat in the Vuelta’s final race against the clock, Cancellara remains the favourite for the Worlds time trial on what will be a testing course over two laps of a 22.8km circuit. “It’s not enough to be strong,” he explained. “Because of the two climbs on the course, which you have to race twice, it’s a very difficult race. You have to have a tactical approach to the race and you have to even your...

  • Team Sky sign Dowsett, Urán and Zandio

    Rigoberto Uran (Caisse d'Epargne) finished strongly in Andorra.
    Article published:
    September 28, 2010, 10:35 BST
    Stephen Farrand

    Urán boosts British team's climbing strength

    Team Sky has announced three signings for 2011 as they look to build on their debut season in the sport.

    The British team has signed young Colombian climber Rigoberto Urán, veteran Spanish domestique Xabier Zandio and Britain's Alex Dowsett.

    21-year-old Dowsett won the European Under 23 time trial title and is targeting a medal in the same event at the world championships on Wednesday. He rode for the Trek-Livestrong team in 2010 and will boost the number of British riders at Team Sky to nine, six of whom are under 25.

    Urán is still only 23 but has been a professional since 2006 and was third in the 2008 Tour of Lombardy. He turned down an offer from Movistar to sign with Team Sky. Zandio also opted for Team Sky after five years at Caisse d’Epargne.

    "These signings will strengthen our squad even further for our second season on the road. Rigoberto and Xabier join from Caisse d'Epargne and both should come to the fore in the mountains in the Grand Tours, an area we have been keen to focus on,” team principal Dave Brailsford said in a statement issued by the team.

    “These three new additions sum up our squad perfectly - a blend of developing talent and Grand Tour experience with a strong British influence at the heart of it."

    "Rigoberto is a super-talented rider who has some great results to his name this year and we are delighted that he has committed his future to Team Sky. He's a young rider with fantastic prospects, exactly the sort of person we have been keen to get on board. Xabier is a rock-solid climber who brings us real experience; he is someone who will give his teammates absolutely everything in the mountains on exactly the sort of stages which decide Grand Tours."

    "I'm delighted that Alex is joining us; he's a young rider who has come through the British system with flying colours and will fit perfectly into our set-up. He's a real all-rounder with an incredibly...

  • Sassi keen to work with Riccò

    Aldo Sassi and Ivan Basso
    Article published:
    September 28, 2010, 11:59 BST
    Stephen Farrand

    Italian coach wants to 'save' controversial climber

    Italian coach Aldo Sassi has said he would like to work with Riccardo Riccò, believing the controversial Italian is an important rider in the sport, despite failing a test for CERA during the 2008 Tour de France.

    Sassi is undergoing treatment for a brain tumor but is in Australia to promote the Centro Mapei coaching centre and see his riders compete in the world championships. He coaches Cadel Evans, Ivan Basso and Michael Rogers, and will work with Damiano Cunego and the Lampre team in 2011.

    He told Gazzetta dello Sport he is intrigued about Riccò's potential, despite his ban for doping and difficult character.

    "I think Riccardo is the best climber out there. He's important for cycling in both Italy and the world and we can't afford to lose him," he said.

    "I think he's surrounded by people who don’t advise him very well. But I think it's very important we help him make a full rehabilitation. I've never spoken to him but I'd like to coach him and work with him closely; on a personal level, psychologically level and how he communicates with people and with the media. I worked on some of these aspects with Basso, especially the communication aspect."

    Sassi has a clear stance against doping and insists his riders agree to blood volume testing to control if they use blood doping techniques. He is not scared to take a risk with Riccò.

    "I know that I'd put my hard-earned credibility at risk but it’s too easy to take up a challenge when you've got nothing to lose. Sometimes you've got to put your neck on the line for something important," he said.

    "If we don't do it by believing in this sport, how can we change things? I'm 51 and I don’t know how long I've got to live. I've got to direct my energy as well as I possibly can. I can’t waste it with people who aren't interested."

    Freire is his favourite

    Sassi has studied the road...

  • Landis hopes to be a catalyst in fight against doping

    Floyd Landis
    Article published:
    September 28, 2010, 13:36 BST
    Stephen Farrand

    American attracts small crowd at Geelong conference

    Floyd Landis has claimed cycling will continue to have a doping problem until more people come forward and talk openly without the fear of being ostracised from the sport. 

    Speaking during a 90-minute panel session in front of a reported audience of just 30 people at the New Pathways for Pro Cycling conference in Geelong, Landis said he hoped his own confession can play a part in resolving cycling’s problems.

    “Until I can sit here, and a lot of other people can sit down and talk about how it came to be that way, it’s going to be hard to find a solution,” the Associated Press news agency reported.

    “If I can be a catalyst for that, so be it. I don’t care to take any credit for it because part of why I’m doing what I’m doing is for my own conscience and my own well being.”

    “As much as it hurts to sit and tell my mom I lied, and to tell other people that I lied, it’s better than the alternative.”

    Landis claimed doping was widespread in cycling when he tested positive for testosterone after winning the 2006 Tour de France. His allegations of drug use by Lance Armstrong and other former teammates have sparked a federal investigation in the US and a string of doping investigation by national federations.

    Landis claimed he eventually came clean to help other people avoid the same problems he went through while in denial about his doping.

    “There were plenty of good people in cycling who made the same decisions I did. And it was never their intention to cheat anybody. It was never their intention to hurt anybody, it’s just that it was so commonplace that you could rationalize it in your mind that you weren’t hurting anybody,” he said.

    “I really didn’t want to put anyone else through (what I went through after being caught). It was an unpleasant experience to say the least. And even to this...