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First Edition Cycling News, Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Date published:
September 29, 2009, 10:00
  • Worlds title sweet consolation for Silence-Lotto principal

    Cadel Evans wins the World Championship for Australia
    Article published:
    September 28, 2009, 11:34
    Richard Tyler

    Sergeant praises Evans and Gilbert, Gilbert takes solace in Belgian team's performance

    Marc Sergeant declared Cadel Evans' World Championship victory in Mendrisio on Sunday the ideal remedy for one of the most difficult seasons of the Australian's nine-year career. The Belgian manager said he had also been pleased with the performance of Evans' Silence-Lotto teammate Philippe Gilbert, who finished the race in sixth.

    "We've had a difficult year, and that's putting it mildly. Cadel's World title makes up for it," Sergeant told Sporza. The Silence-Lotto principal was on hand in Mendrisio to witness Evans' win.

    Despite disappointment at the first of Evans' season goals, the Tour de France, Sergeant admitted that the World title had been a priority throughout the season. "Earlier this year he spoke about the World Championship. After an unsuccessful Tour [de France], the Vuelta was the best preparation for a good race today. I convinced him to ride the Vuelta. Today was his chance and he has finished the job."

    Evans was one of two big hopes for the World Championships from the Silence-Lotto stable. Belgian Philippe Gilbert had also been marked as a pre-race favourite, with his abilities expected to suit the challenging Mendrisio course. After a sixth-place finish Sergeant was also quick to praise the efforts of the Walloon rider.

    "Philippe Gilbert was also 110% today. He too had been working for a year for this World Championship," he said. "The attack from Evans caught everyone by surprise; Gilbert did well to finish sixth."

    Gilbert himself was not quite so glowing in his appraisal of his the result. However, the 27-year-old was quick to acknowledge the performances of his Belgian teammates. "Oh yes, sixth or seventh, I don't really care," Gilbert told Sporza. "I came to win."

    "I was focused on [Italian Damiano] Cunego, who I think was the strongest man in the race. My result is not super, but the World Championship was good. It's been a long time since I've seen the Belgian team work so well together."

    Gilbert singled out Tom Boonen for particular praise and also recognized the efforts of the Australian team, who took control of the peloton after a mid-race escape by a group of almost 30 riders. Boonen and Greg Van Avermaet were both part of the move, which had been precipitated by the Italian team after 165 kilometres.

    "The team has worked well, but it was a strange race. After the escape that included [Alessandro] Ballan, nobody wanted to work in the pack except the Australians. Tom [Boonen] was in the escape [with Ballan], but was still fresh and helped me a great deal in the finale. His performance was beautiful."

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  • NetApp aim for ProTour status within three years

    The Team NetApp jersey
    Article published:
    September 28, 2009, 12:30
    Susan Westemeyer

    New German Continental team to begin racing in 2010

    Newly formed German squad Team NetApp has announced its entry into the professional peloton with bold plans to achieve ProTour status within three years. The Continental team, which will start racing in 2010, was introduced in Mendrisio, Switzerland, on Friday evening.

    The team is starting out small, but has big ambitions. “The coming season will see 14 selected international talented up-and-coming cyclists being given the chance to experience a new side of cycling and to make it to the very top,” the team said. “The new team will emerge with one ambitious goal: ProTour status within three years.”

    Initially NetApp will compete in races such as Rund um Köln and Hel van Het Mergelland. By 2011, however, the goal “is to have a calendar featuring the names of the great Classic races.”

    Seven riders have been announced so far. The most-experienced rider is sprinter Eric Baumann. The 29-year-old turned pro in 2003 with Team Wiesenhof and rode for T-Mobile Team from 2004 to 2007. He has raced for Team Nutrixxion Sparkasse since 2008.

    Baumann's teammates will include: Tassilo Fricke, Daniel Schorn, Jan Barta, Andres Schillinger, Michael Schwarzmann and Alexander Gottfried.

    The team will be led by three former cyclists, Ralph Denk, Jens Heppner and Enrico Poitschke. Denk, 36, will act as team manager. A former mountain-bike team manager, he has been involved in road racing since 2007, when he established the Quest Ralph Denk Team for under-19 riders.

    Heppner, 44, raced professionally from 1991 to 2005. He spent ten years with Team Telekom and from 2006 to 2007 he was a team manager at Team Wiesenhof.

    Poitschke, 39, retired from racing with Milram at the end of last season. He turned pro in 2001, riding for Wiesenhof from 2001 to 2005 before a move to Milram in 2006.

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  • Hushovd eyes Paris-Roubaix and World title in 2010

    Thor Hushovd (Norway) during the 2009 World Championship. He withdrew this year, but hopes to win in Geelong next season.
    Article published:
    September 28, 2009, 14:23
    Richard Tyler

    Grand Tour objectives take back seat as Norwegian targets one-day wins

    Thor Hushovd has indicated that he may skip next year's Tour de France in order to focus on the 2010 World Championships in Geelong, Australia. In an interview published in Norwegian newspaper Dagbladet on Sunday the Cervélo TestTeam rider said that Paris-Roubaix and the World title would be his major goals next season.

    "I'm not sure if I will ride in the Tour de France next year," said Hushovd. "I have other goals that are starting to become more important than a third green jersey in the Tour. To win the spring Classics and the World Championships is more tempting."

    Hushovd's two green jerseys at the Tour de France (2005, 2009) are significant of the reputation he has built as one of the peloton's most consistent sprinters. However, victories at semi-classics Gent-Wevelgem in 2006 and Omloop Het Nieuwsblad this year have marked a transition in recent seasons towards results in one-day races.

    Hushovd finished third at Paris-Roubaix this season and said he will target victory in the 'Queen of the Classics', as well as a similar result in Geelong next year. The latter objective could see him trade the roads of France for those of Spain in order to maximise his chances of success.

    "The World Championship and Paris-Roubaix will be my most important races next year," he said. "To qualify for the World Championship I might race in the Vuelta a España."

    Yesterday, Hushovd was one of 96 riders who failed to finish this year's World Championship race yesterday in Mendrisio, Switzerland. He said Cadel Evans' solo victory served as testament to the challenge that the hilly course presented. "It was surprising that Cadel won," he told Dagbladet after the race. "It proves how hard this World Championship was."

    Norway's best placed rider, Kurt-Asle Arvesen echoed Hushovd's comments: "This was the toughest World Championship race I have ever experienced, but I had a really good day and was hoping for medals along the way," said Arvesen, after finishing 12th, 1:47 behind Evans.

    With the next two World Championships to feature comparatively flat courses in Australia and Denmark, respectively, Hushovd has set his sights on those to provide Norway's first ever Elite men's World title.

    "The next few World Championship races will fit me better. It's gone well for me in all other races [in my career], so it's important for me to do it well in the World Championships. My goal is a World Championship medal before I retire."

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  • Milram signs Nerz on two-year deal

    German rider Dominik Nerz in action at the Under-23 World Championships in Mendrisio. The 20-year-old will race with Team Milram in 2010
    Article published:
    September 28, 2009, 16:30
    Richard Tyler

    German youngster up to ProTour in 2010, Milram still working to extend sponsorship

    German youngster Dominik Nerz will race with Team Milram in 2010 after he signed a two-year contract with the team in Switzerland last week. The 20-year-old has ridden for Milram's Continental feeder team in 2009 and will make the step up to ProTour competition next season.

    "The change to the senior team is the right step at the right time," said Nerz. "As a young rider, I will be able to continue to develop. There's a mixture of veterans and young riders in the team. I'm looking forward to being able to ride alongside the experienced professionals."

    Nerz began his professional career in 2008 with Team Ista. His biggest result came at this year's Giro della Valle d'Aosta Mont Blanc, where he won the final mountain stage of the race.

    Nerz has represented Germany twice in the Under-23 World Championship road race for the past two years. On Saturday he finished 20th in Mendrisio, the best finish by a German rider.

    "For us, as the only German ProTour team, we see it as our duty to develop the young German riders," said Milram Manager Gerry van Gerwen. "We have long observed Dominik Nerz and I think that we have to give a chance to such a talent. Athletically he fits in the team well and we feel he will continue to develop under professional conditions."

    Nerz could be the final rider to make the transition from the Milram Continental team to the senior squad. The principal sponsor of both teams, Nordmilch AG, announced in July that it had extended its contract with the ProTour squad through 2010, but will cease sponsorship of the lower-tier formation at the end of the current season.

    Milram confirmed to Cyclingnews on Monday that International Cycling Union (UCI) regulations required them to sign Nerz on a two-year deal, although the second year of the contract will depend on the team's ability to find ongoing sponsorship.

    "Nerz will be a neo-pro in the ProTour, all of whom must have a two-year contract under UCI rules," said Milram's Press Officer Max Biermann. "If the team continues for two years, the contract will be good for that period, however, if the team stops after one year, then the contract be negated too."

    Biermann said that Milram's team management were working to secure the team's future beyond 2010, though no new or existing sponsors have been confirmed to date.

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  • Best of the worlds - a pictorial perspective

    Alexandr Kolobnev chases the gold but to no avail. He finished second again.
    Article published:
    September 29, 2009, 00:27
    Cycling News

    Cyclingnews' best images from the Mendrisio World Championships

    Lush green Swiss fields, glorious sunshine and a field boasting the world's best riders - it must be this year's World Championships, held in Mendrisio, Switzerland.

    There's always plenty of emotion and excitement during the four days of competition and this year's world title races were no exception.

    Cyclingnews captured all the energy in images from the likes of seasoned Italian photographers Sirotti and Bettini and artful cycling snapper Edward A Madden.

    Below is a taste of what Mendrisio delivered - until next year, when the worlds circus heads to the Australian city of Geelong.

     Kristin Armstrong rides to victory in one of her last races as a professional.

    American veteran Kristin Armstrong (above) rode to a gold medal in her last time trial as a professional. A fantastic way to end a great career.

    The compact yet powerful style of Jack Bobridge netted the Australian the U23 men's TT crown.

    While one TT gold medalist was retiring, another is just getting started. Rising Australian star Jack Bobridge (above) dazzled the cycling world further with a great performance in the U23 men's time trial to take the win.

    Tatiana Guderzo enjoys the applause of Italian supporters, close to home.

    Italian rider Tatiana Guderzo soaked up the applause (above) after prevailing in the women's road race. It was the result of some excellent team work by her teammate Noemi Cantele, who backed up from taking silver in the time trial to secure the bronze in the road race.

    A motley crew of fans enjoys the racing.

    OK, who let this bunch into the stands? The atmosphere was jovial, to say the least, as the Europeans soaked up the last of the sunshine in the Italian-speaking region of Switzerland. They had reason to celebrate, with a fantastic display over the days of competition.

    Vai, vai, vai, Cadel! Evans gives it the lot in the final kilometres.

    And on Sunday afternoon it all came down to this attack from Cadel Evans (above). After some excellent team riding from the Australians, Evans made the right moves and punched it hard with about five kilometres remaining. The rest, as they say, is history.

    Cadel Evans holds back the tears as he celebrates on the podium.

    The end result? An Australian on the top step of the podium of the elite men's road race for the first time in the professional era of the event, with a choked-up Cadel Evans holding back the tears (above).

  • Australian team tactics played to perfection

    Cadel Evans (Australia) assumes the top step of the podium.
    Article published:
    September 29, 2009, 01:40
    Les Clarke

    World championship triumph shared amongst the troops

    Cadel Evans' victory in Mendrisio on Sunday afternoon was the product of an equally strong performance from his national teammates, who set the Australian up in the closing laps of the 262km event.

    The Australian team had come close before; in 2002, Robbie McEwen's silver medal behind Italy's Mario Cipollini in Zolder was the best result hitherto for the green and gold.

    Australian selectors sent arguably the most balanced team to Mendrisio, with the likes of experienced campaigners Mat Hayman, Michael Rogers, Stuart O'Grady and Adam Hansen joining forces with young stars Wes Sulzberger, Matt Lloyd and Simon Clarke to help co-captains Simon Gerrans and Evans in their shot at the title.

    Seasoned directeur sportif Neil Stephens called the shots from the car, as he has done for several years, and paid tribute to the teamwork of his riders after the win.

    "We knew it was going to be a really hard race today. Matty Hayman really took charge of the early stage of the race along with Wes Sulzberger and Simon Clarke. He knew we had a certain amount of firepower, we knew when we had to use it and how we had to use it," said Stephens.

    "Then it was up to those guys. Michael Rogers being with the front group was a crucial part of the race. Then going into the final laps with Cadel, Simon Gerrans and Matthew Lloyd they really topped it off."

    Evans acknowledged that he thought the race may have ended differently had the big escape group - containing Rogers - stayed away. "When the big group went with Michael [Rogers] I thought, 'Michael's going to be the one to make our result today,'" he explained.

    That group didn't stay away and it was up to the Australians to switch to the appropriate plan. Stephens explained that it required some calm thinking and calculated action. "At two laps to go, at less than 30 kilometres to go , I thought we'd really blown it. We'd spent out bikkies (biscuits), the last of our workers, Wes, was gone, our leaders were there and the break was still a minute and 50 seconds down," said Stephens.

    "I said to the guys just keep your cool and see how it pans out and things really turned around for us. So we went from the high of really good work to the low of thinking we wouldn't get there and then to the high once again of having Cadel Evans putting on the rainbow jersey at the finish line."

    While the accolades went to Evans, the significance of riding with the likes of Rogers, Hayman and co wasn't lost on the winner, who has suffered plenty of highs and lows of worlds campaigns with the Australian team.

    "Being with the Aussies and seeing them out there... especially because I've sort of grown up with most of the guys here - some of them younger, some of them older - is great," said Evans. "I remember racing with Mat Hayman as an Under 23 or racing with Mick [Rogers] as an Under 23, going to races years ago together.

    "It's been a lot of work in the making and for it all to come together today... to get the jersey is really something."

  • Greipel surprised himself at Worlds

    Pre-race favorite Andre Greipel (Columbia-HTC)
    Article published:
    September 29, 2009, 08:22
    Cycling News

    Sprinter felt out of place in Worlds' escape of the day

    No one was more surprised to see Andre Greipel in the escape group of the day at the World Championships than the Columbia fast man himself. Better known as a sprinter than an attacker, the German was part of a ten-rider group that got away on the first lap and stayed in front until only four laps to go, but Greipel did not feel in his place.

    "My assignment was to be in the escape group," he noted on his personal website, "I obediently did that for more than 215 kilometres and continued to ask myself what was I actually doing there. Escape groups are, as you know, not really my speciality. And on such a difficult course, too."

    The 27-year-old continued on for a lap after being caught, before exhaustion and cramps forced him out. He watched the finish of the race on site, and congratulated German teammate Fabian Wegmann, who finished eleventh. "In light of the strong competitors, we could go home satisifed."

    Things didn't start off so good, though. He and Columbia-HTC teammate Marcel Sieberg arrived in Mendrisio on Thursday, and inspected the course. "We would have preferred to go directly back home, the course was that hard," he commented.

    Greipel now has only two more races on his calendar. This coming Saturday, he hopes to have recovered enough to defend his title in the Münsterland Giro, and that will be followed by a farewell race for Ralf Grabsch on Sunday.

    Greipel scored 19 wins this season, despite missing over three months in the spring due to shoulder surgery. These victories include four stage wins at the Vuelta a España, where he also won the points jersey and wore the leader's gold jersey for two stages.

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  • End of season for Andy Schleck

    Saxo Bank's Andy Schleck is a bona fide star after the Tour.
    Article published:
    September 29, 2009, 08:41
    Cycling News

    Tour de France runner-up to rest his legs, no Lombardy

    Andy Schleck, second-placed and best young rider at the Tour de France this year, has decided to end his season, effective immediately. The Luxembourger, who participated in the Worlds road race last Sunday, abandoned the event early. He also quit the Vuelta a España after only one week of racing.

    "It's been a fantastic season and I am extremely proud of the results that I and the team have achieved," said Schleck. "It has also been a long season with the Tour of California as the first race and I feel that my body needs rest. I will not risk pushing myself unnecessarily and put my preparations for next year at risk, so it is definitely the right decision to stop now.

    "I want to get even stronger for next year and I think I have the age to make even greater improvements. The Tour de France is my big objective and I am convinced that I have a good chance of being at the forefront once again."

    Schleck, as well as his older brother Fränk, will thus not appear at the Giro di Lombardia next month, where Andy placed fourth two years ago. Fränk Schleck, who became third in the Classic of the falling leaves in 2005, has already finished his season due to knee surgery.

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