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Australian's 2015 Tinkoff-Saxo team bike
Winner of the 2015 Tour Down Under
Spanish film-makers working to tell the tale of former-Banesto pro
Two young Spanish journalists are putting together a documentary tracing the life of climbing great José María Jiménez as seen through the eyes of the people who knew him best, including his brother-in-law, Carlos Sastre, and his widow, Azucena.
Four times a winner of the mountains title at the Vuelta a España, Jiménez, universally known as ‘Chava’, retired from racing in 2001 and was treated for health and psychological problems. He died in December 2003 after suffering an embolism aged just 32.
Avila-based journalists Gonzalo Martín and Ángel Sánchez approached 2008 Tour winner Sastre with their idea last year. After Sastre agreed to cooperate with them, the two novice TV journalists have invested 7,000 euros of their own money in the project with the aim of giving an insider’s view of Jiménez’s often controversial life. "We didn’t want to stir things up, but simply to show how he tried to get back to being what he had been before," the pair told Spanish sports daily Marca.
The documentary follows Jiménez’s life chronologically via interviews with many who were close to the star of the Banesto team. Among those who have collaborated on the film are 1983 Tour de France runner-up Ángel Arroyo, who hails from El Barraco like Jiménez, and Víctor Sastre, father of Carlos and founder of the Ángel Arroyo cycling school in El Barraco in the early 1980s.
Jiménez and Carlos Sastre both started their cycling careers at that school in 1983, and remained extremely close during their professional careers. "I don’t know how Carlos managed to achieve so much success after the death of Chava because it’s still something he finds very hard to talk about," Víctor Sastre told Marca.
Having completed most of the interviews for the documentary, the next step for...
Italian coach Aldo Sassi believes Swiss can be like Indurain
Following Fabian Cancellara's double at the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix, the question that many people are asking is: What other races can he win in cycling?
Cancellara has yet to confirm if he will target Sunday's Amstel Gold Race, but has stated he'd like to one day win all five of cycling's big Classics - the so-called 'Monuments' - and the Hour Record seems a natural goal for one of the best time triallists in the history of cycling.
However, Italian coach Aldo Sassi believes Cancellara could aim even higher, suggesting that Cancellara could be a Tour de France contender if he loses some muscle mass and further body fat.
As the coach of World Champion Cadel Evans and Ivan Basso, Sassi knows what it takes to identify and hone Grand Tour contenders. He was also the coach of the Mapei team that signed Cancellara to the Mapei development team in 2001, along with Filippo Pozzato, Michael Rogers, Dario Cioni, Charlie Wegelius and Bernhard Eisel.
"When we signed Fabian, we knew how talented he was because he'd already won two junior world time trial titles, but when we analysed his laboratory results, they convinced us of his huge potential," Sassi told Gazzetta dello Sport on Tuesday.
"For a rider like Fabian, raising the bar is not about going for the hour record, I'm convinced he can go for the major Tours. Perhaps not the Giro d'Italia, but the Tour de France for sure. We signed him to the Mapei development team with that goal in mind. We saw what he could do in time trials and we thought he'd could win short stage races and eventually become a rider for the major Tours."
Sassi reveals that he often teased Cancellara about his weight and diet, even when he was no longer at the Mapei team. And Cancellara has never forgotten Sassi's theory about him having the potential to win the Tour de France. He recently send a personal text message to Sassi, signing off as the rider who 'five kilos lighter could...
After Basque victory, American eyes the Ardennes
Before last weekend's breakthrough at the Tour of the Basque Country, it was 2006 since Chris Horner was able to raise his arms in victory. But after years of service to his team captains, the 38-year-old was finally able to fulfill the promise which has glinted from behind strings of bad luck crashes in recent years. Now he hopes to take that fitness to the Ardennes Classics, perhaps to become the first American since Tyler Hamilton to win Liège - Bastogne - Liège.
Four years ago, it was a stage of the Tour de Romandie where Horner escaped in the final kilometres to win the day and claim the overall lead until the next day, some kid named Alberto Contador came and stole the jersey away.
The two would go on to become teammates on Astana, of course, although Horner was never able to help the Spaniard to any of his Tour de France victories. Yet he did help Contador to a win in the 2008 Basque Tour, and if his fortunes had not gone sour he would have done the same in 2009 and gone on to enjoy the spoils at the Tour de France.
However, an unfortunate series of crashes, one in the Basque Country, last year left Horner out of the Tour squad and unable to take advantage of the best form of his life.
"Last year I had this form all of last year and nobody saw it. There were glimpses of it here and there - if you saw me in the Basque Tour before I broke my collarbone, or in the Giro stages before I broke my leg, there were only five of us going for the summit finish and I was one of them. And if you really looked at the Vuelta before I crashed out on stage 4 you could see I had fantastic form," Horner told Cyclingnews.
"I spent a lot of time on the couch last year and it was frustrating. This year I told the team when I went to the Basque Country I wanted to go for the win."
It was a perfect race for Horner to target, since the team's other GC leaders, Lance Armstrong and Levi Leipheimer, were not...
Team pleased with early success in Taiwan
Following a strong performance at the Tour de Taiwan Kenda-Geargrinder is aiming for success during its stateside block of racing that will commence with the rugged International Cycling Union (UCI) sanctioned Tour of the Battenkill, on April 18 in Cambridge, New York. The US-based Continental squad will field a series of talented cyclo-cross riders, including Luca Damiani, Jonny Sundt and Nick Keough, at the partially dirt one-day road race.
The team proved to be on good form last month at the UCI 2.2 Tour de Taiwan and captured second place in the overall classification. All rounder Phil Gaimon is looking forward to putting forward an equally impressive performance during the coming months of US racing.
"I'm really looking forward to Battenkill," Gaimon said. "I'm looking for a chance to get some hard climbing races in this year. I felt like I didn't get to do a lot of that last year. I'm looking at Tour of the Gila and Tour of Utah as my target this year."
Gaimon placed second behind overall winner David McCann during the seven-stage Asian race. He attributes his early season form to the winter months he spent training and racing in the sunny south.
"Taiwan was a big goal for the team for our sponsors there and with it being the first race of the year and a big UCI race we were focused on that," Gaimon said. "It was a very different race this year from the past.
"I was on the bubble as to if I should even go or whether we should send a criterium guy," he added. "It was a big race for the team so I wanted to be there. It turned out to be a hillier race and the first stage was hard."
Following the Tour of Battenkill, Kenda-Geargrinder will compete in the USA CRIT Speed Week Series, Tour of the Gila and Joe Martin Stage Race.
Road works leave one climb out of Liège - Bastogne - Liège
The Amaury Sport Organisation confirmed today that Tour de France champion Alberto Contador will take part in the 74th running of La Flèche Wallonne on April 21.
The route for La Flèche Wallonne will cover 198km on the way from Charleroi to Huy, with the Mur de Huy providing the primary difficulty in the event. Riders pass the climb three times, the final time en route to the finish line.
The Spaniard is no stranger to the Ardennes Classics, having done both La Flèche Wallonne and Liège - Bastogne - Liège in 2006 and 2007. His highest place in a one-day Classic was 26th in the 2007 Liège - Bastogne - Liège.
It is expected that he will also compete in Liège on April 25, which will cover some of the same roads as those in stage 2 of this year's Tour de France.
Contador added the Ardennes Classics to his calendar after winning Paris-Nice. He dropped the Spanish stage races Volta a Catalunya and Vuelta a Pais Vasco in favor of Critérium International and the Vuelta a Castilla y Leon, then added the one-day races "to gain experience".
Slight route change for Liège - Bastogne - Liège
An alteration to the route of Liège - Bastogne - Liège was also announced today. The 96th running of 'la Doyenne' will be slightly shorter than previous editions, with 258 km and 10 climbs, one fewer than last year.
"The course was redesigned near the Côte de la Haute-Levée, which we will not use," the organizers said. "Road improvements...
Estonian champion currently leads Tour of Turkey
Estonian champion Rein Taaramäe has taken the lead at the Presidential Tour of Turkey today by one second over stage 3 winner Giovanni Visconti (ISD-Neri). However, at the age of 23, the Cofidis rider already has eyes on a higher status ProTour races and the Tour de France. "Now that I have the lead, I'll try to keep it till the end of the week but I don't want to spend too much energy here," Taaramäe told Cyclingnews in Marmaris. "We have only six riders, it's not a lot to defend a jersey for five days. If I lose it, it's not a big deal."
Until he discovered how beautiful Turkey is, Taaramäe was aiming at a break rather than racing at this time of the year. "After the Tour of Catalunya, I had one week holiday in Estonia totally off with no sport. Last week I only rode three times for two hours. That's probably why I had some cramps with one kilometre to go today. Otherwise I could have done better than third. I was sprinting quite well at Paris-Nice and the Volta Catalunya.
"I'm very happy with my start this year," the Estonian continued. "To make the top 10 at Paris-Nice was all right but not extraordinary. The podium finish in Catalunya was a great achievement. I feel that I have improved a lot. I'm more explosive this year."
Taaramäe is set to make his Tour de France debut this year in the Estonian's third season as a professional. He turned pro at 20 following the 2007 season he did as an amateur in France with the club of RO St-Amand-Montrond. "Last year it would have been too early for me to ride the Tour," he said. "It would have been too stressful as well. I've heard it's really different from any other race. I'm happy that I chose to start with the Vuelta and to finish it. Now I'm ready for the Tour.
"At the stage races, I'm up for targeting GC but...
Gastro hampers 2008 champion's preparations
Lampre-Farnese Vini management are hoping Ardennes Classics star Damiano Cunego will be ready for this Sunday's Amstel Gold Race after the Italian developed a case of gastroenteritis at the recent Vuelta al Pais Vasco.
The Italian was forced to withdraw from the Spanish race and is still suffering from the effects of his illness, which have rendered him below his optimum for the event he won in 2008.
"Cunego is recovering from the viral gastroenteritis he suffered from in Spain and is taking a disinfectant cure for the bowel," said Lampre-Farnese Vini medical officer Dr Carlo Guardascione. "He feels fatigued when he tries to make efforts; this is a normal thing when you suffer from this kind of illness."
Directeur sportif Brent Copeland is confident in the team's ability to assist Cunego during the race, although he won't know until the squad trains on Thursday whether 'il piccolo principe' will be in a suitable condition to ride well in the event.
"Damiano performed the first training on Monday, pedalling for two hours; he feels tired and that's why the long distance training that he'll perform on Thursday will be important in order to evaluate if he'll be competitive in Amstel Gold Race," said Copeland.
"The team showed in the previous races that it's united and well organised, counting on riders such as [Matteo] Bono, [David] Loosli, [Alessandro] Spezialetti and [Daniele] Pietropolli. In addition, there will be [Manuele] Mori and [Daniele] Righi who are in a good fit and [Francesco] Gavazzi, who showed qualities that allowed him to compete with the top riders."
Lampre for Amstel Gold: Matteo Bono, Damiano Cunego, Francesco Gavazzi, David Loosli, Manuele Mori, Daniele Pietropolli, Daniele Righi and Alessandro Spezialetti.
Brabantse Pijl could be Belgian's big comeback
Nick Nuyens has endured terrible luck over the past three seasons, and his time with Dutch squad Rabobank has been riddled with injuries and illness. The Belgian is hoping today's Brabantse Pijl will be the beginning of his return to the top, however.
The 29-year-old from Lier, who has two Brabantse Pijl podium finishes (third in 2006 and second in 2007), has endured falls at critical moments in his season for the past several years, the latest during the E3 Prijs Vlaanderen - Harelbeke. It almost ruled him out of the Tour of Flanders (he didn't finish the race) and again has him on the back foot leading up to the Ardennes Classics.
He's remaining positive however, telling Belgian daily Sporza: "I hope that all misery is behind me. Punctures, falls, illness, I've had it all. It was a big disaster. In Harelbeke [E3 Prijs] I fell three times, my body took three heavy blows. My hip was black and I still have a soft spot in my sternum."
And he admitted that recovery from the trio of spills was difficult. "I thought the pain would be quickly forgotten, but it was not," said Nuyens.
He'll have some inspiration for his return to racing proper, despite still feeling the effects of his injuries. The powerfully built rider will be competing on home turf. "On Wednesday I'll ride the Brabantse Pijl, a course that is [suited to] me," he said. "I have long lived in that neighbourhood and it remains something special for me."
While being widely recognised as a rider for the flatlands, a top 10 in last year's edition of the Amstel Gold Race was an indication of what Nuyens is capable of on hillier courses. "I prepared very well in the winter and despite all the problems the form has come easily to me," he explained.
"On Wednesday and in the Amstel in want to be there in the finale. I believe in it, as does the team. If everything falls into place, I will succeed."
And while Belgian riders have been criticised for...