Olympic gold medalist takes part in Ride 2 Recovery
Bill Demong, winner of the first gold medal in Nordic combined for the USA at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, is no stranger to elite-level cycling and was a popular figure at the Tour of the Battenkill.
While the 30-year-old didn't partake in Sunday's UCI-sanctioned Tour of the Battenkill, Demong did take in the complete 100km circuit on Saturday as part of the Ride 2 Recovery Cyclefest, an event to benefit the non-profit organization which assists in the recovery and rehabilitation of injured armed forces veterans through indoor spinning and outdoor cycling.
The affable Demong had just returned from a whirlwind trip to visit American troops in the Middle East with his nordic combined teammates and was eager to suit up on Saturday for his first day on the bike in 2010.
"The Ride 2 Recovery was something I planned on doing with Dieter [Drake]," Demong told Cyclingnews. "Having gone to Iraq over the last week and a half, visiting wounded warriors over there and becoming a little more up to speed on some of the programs the armed forces is doing with their vets, it dovetailed really nicely and I was able to connect with those guys a lot better.
"I started riding and worked my way up from the very last guy on a mountain bike right up to the front, saying hi and getting their stories along the way. It's really cool to hear all that and what brought them here on Saturday."
While Demong is a Cat. 1 cyclist, the lap of the Tour of the Battenkill circuit, conducted in rain and chilly conditions, was a shock to the system. "Obviously, getting back on the bike for the first time in eight months was rough. I had 40 good miles in my legs then ended up getting housed by a couple of high school kids," laughed Demong.
"It's my big reminder that you are what you train," he added. "That's my incentive to get back on the bike as much as possible and get ready for racing. I think Mt. Hood Cycling Classic will be my first race...
Recent wins boost Basque squad, high hopes for Anton at Fléche Wallonne
Things haven’t run too smoothly so far this season for Euskaltel boss Igor González de Galdeano. Heading into April his team was winless and had no fewer than eight riders sidelined by injury – a serious setback for team that has little strength in depth. However, three victories in key races during the last couple of weeks on the back of some impressive performances have lifted both Galdeano and his team’s spirits as they look ahead to the next couple of months.
The headliners for Euskaltel have been Olympic champion Samuel Sánchez, who won the iconic Alto de Arrate stage in the Tour of the Basque Country and the GP Amorebieta also in the team’s home region, Igor Anton, winner at the Morredero summit finish ahead of Alberto Contador and second overall in the Vuelta a Castilla y León, and Beñat Intxausti, who finished third overall in the Basque Country and continues to emerge as one of the squad’s leading performers.
"The team was riding well and I knew that sooner or later the results were going to come. The truth is that the riders have put us back on track and done so with results that were particularly significant," Galdeano told El Diario Vasco. With rumours of sponsorship problems still hanging over the Basque squad, the strong showing by Sánchez and Intxausti at the Tour of the Basque Country was extremely significant given the importance of that event to the squad.
"Were we concerned? No we weren’t, and we weren’t nervous either because we could see the team was at a good level and that wins would come after a matter of time. It’s also hard for us to win races, that’s not new, and for that reason when they do come you can feel everyone relax a bit. We would only have had a problem if we could see that people weren’t riding well," said Galdeano.
The Euskaltel boss is now looking ahead to the second part of his...
Austrian NADA says banned rider may have supplied others with doping products
Former pro cyclist Christian Pfannberger is the first athlete to be named in the Austrian National Anti-Doping Agency's (NADA) investigation of those allegedly involved with illegal blood-doping at HumanPlasma. Pfannberger has already received a life-long ban last November after twice testing positive for prohibited substances.
In a press release issued on Tuesday, the NADA says that it has evidence that Pfannberger, "on the premises of the company Humanplasma GmbH, repeatedly had blood drawn for the purpose of doping in sport." In addition, it said, it is further alleged that he was involved in “providing forbidden substances to other athletes.”
Pfannberger, 30, first tested positive for testosterone in 2004 at the Austrian national championships and was suspended for two years. Last year, while riding for Team Katusha, he was found positive for EPO at an out-of-competition control in March, and received a lifetime ban for the second violation. He has consistently denied ever having used doping products or methods.
He turned professional with Team Nürnberger Versicherung in 2002 and rode for Volksbank, eD'system-ZVVZ, Elk Haus and Barloworld, before joining Katusha in 2009. Pfannberger was Austrian national road champion in 2007 and 2008.
Earlier this week the Austrian NADA had announced that it was investigating up to 20 athletes and trainers for their involvement with an illegal blood doping ring through HumanPlasma GmbH. The Dutch NADA has said that three former athletes from the Netherlands were under investigation and that, "cyclists play an important role in the dossier."
HumanPlasma was involved in blood transfusions for athletes between 2003 to 2006. Stefan Matschiner, the one-time manager of former-Gerolsteiner rider Bernhard Kohl is alleged to be a central figure in the investigation. Kohl admitted to his role in the scandal after he tested positive for CERA in the 2008 Tour de...
Andre Greipel's adventures in Turkey involved not only multiple stage wins and the points jersey, but also a big crash and an exceptionally long trip home. He summed it all up as "a very nice race".
The HTC-Columbia rider won five of the race's eight stages, and his teammate Tejay van Garderen took second place overall. "I only wanted to win one stage," he told Cyclingnews. "I didn't know how my form would be after my racing pause."
On the negative side of the race, he and most of his teammates were involved in a crash near the end of the seventh stage, Fortunately, no one was injured. "Our sprint train with Bert Grabsch went into the tight curve one kilometre before the finish line just a bit too fast," Greipel said. "But that's part of our sport."
But it was after the race that the real adventure began, a procedure he called "pretty stressful". It involved a flight from Antalya to Istanbul, then back to Antalya. Another flight to Salzburg, Austria, a rental car across the border to Nürnberg, Germany, and from there a train to Cologne – the speedy man needed 36 hours to get home again.
Greipel, 27, will now have enough time to rest up from the journey before his next race, Rund um den Finanzplatz on May 1 in Frankfurt.
Kirchen returns to bolster strong Ardennes selection
After falling agonizingly short of victory at Amstel Gold on Sunday, Katusha confirmed another strong roster for the second of the three Ardennes Classics, Flèche Wallonne, on Wednesday. Serguei Ivanov and Alexandr Kolobnev, who both played crucial roles in the finale of Amstel, will return to lead the Russian outfit.
Flèche Wallonne will also mark the return of former race-winner Kim Kirchen, who has not raced since E3 Prijs-Harelbeke due to saddle sores. The Luxembourg rider won the event in 2008 and although unlikely to feature in the finale this year, he will lend valuable experience to his teammates.
Kolobnev, Ivanov and Kirchen will be joined by Luca Maxxanti, Serguei Klimov, Eduard Vorganov and Stijn Vandenberg for the 198-kilometre race, which finishes atop the Muur de Huy in south-east Belgium.
Both Ivanov and Kolobnev were present in the elite selection that had formed in the latter stages of Amstel Gold Race on Sunday. Although ultimately unsuccessful at the Dutch race, their visible presence there re-affirmed Katusha's status as one of the strongest squads entered in the Ardennes Classics.
Ivanov finished 12th at Amstel and Kolobnev 22nd, the latter having been swept up at the base of the Cauberg, just 600 metres before the line. Katusha sports director Serge Parsani said on Tuesday that the team will aim will maintain it's attacking style.
"We have a strong team that can do well [at Flèche]," said Parsani. "We raced well at Amstel Gold Race, where we were only missing a little bit of good luck. Tomorrow we'll try it again."
Omega Pharma-Lotto primed for home Classic after Amstel win
While Omega Pharma-Lotto has come under fire for its lacklustre start to the season, Omega Pharma-Lotto rider Mario Aerts has backed the Belgian squad and its star Classics rider, Philippe Gilbert, to perform well in today's Flèche Wallonne.
The 35-year-old, who won the event in 2002 and was the last Belgian to take the title, believes Gilbert can add to his brilliant Amstel Gold Race victory and Jurgen Van den Broeck could be a factor in the race's finale, answering those who have criticised the team for its lack of results thus far in 2010.
Aerts said he's in good condition this season and is confident he can a play a role in getting the team's star riders to the finale. "I can do my work for the leaders - Gilbert and Van den Broeck - and try to get them in the best condition to contest the final," he told Sporza before admitting, "Personally, though, I can't ride the finale."
It comes after comments from Van den Broeck on the same website, indicating that the talented Belgian could be given free rein to go for the win later today. "I hope I'll be there in the final of La Flèche Wallonne and Liège-Bastogne-Liège, and hopefully our team can win one of those races," Van den Broeck told Sporza. "I feel good. The courses of those races suit me better than Amstel."
It also follows former teammate Cadel Evans' assertion that Gilbert is the man to watch in the event after taking the Amstel Gold crown last Sunday. The world champion told Cyclingnews: "I'm a big Philippe Gilbert fan. I like him. He's a good guy and loves racing his bike too. That's refreshing." Needless to say the prospect of a Belgian adding his name to the race's palmares for the first time in eight years has the local media excited, too.
As for his own history at the event, Aerts was reminiscent. "The Flèche Wallonne remains a special course for me," he explained. "That victory was a beautiful...
Caleb Fairly’s (Holowesko Partners) victory over Floyd Landis (Bahati Foundation) at the weekend’s Tour of Battenkill puts the Colorado Springs native ahead of Landis on USA Cycling’s new Professional Tour. The new series groups together some of the United States of America’s largest professional-only bike races, including the Tours of Battenkill, California, New York and Missouri, in addition to the Univest Grand Prix, Philadelphia International and USA Pro races.
Despite the Holowesko Partners and Bahati Foundation teams taking early advantages in the individual and teams classifications, the standings will be turned on their head at next month’s Tour of California. Neither squad is on the invite list for May’s race, which will allow Fly V Australia and Team Type 1 – third and fifth respectively on the team’s classification – to make up for lost ground.
Peloton to face huge transfer as race heads east for first time
Tour of Britain's organisers have unveiled the course for the 2010 edition of the race (September 11-18), dubbing it the "hardest" in the event's seven year history. British squad Team Sky is expected to form part of the 16-team peloton, although the race's proximity to the International Cycling Union (UCI) World Championships is likely to see Britain's top riders skip the eight-stage tour in favour of the Vuelta a España.
The 1,223-kilometre Tour of Britain route released on Tuesday will see a 96-rider peloton take in broad stretches of the United Kindom's east and west coasts. The race will commence in Rochdale, north of Manchester, with the first of eight stages concluding on the coast at Blackpool. Stages two to five will see the race make its way south down the western seaboard, with Stoke-on-Trent, the Welsh city of Swansea, Teignmouth and Glastonbury all scheduled to host stage finishes.
The Welsh-based stage three from Newtown to Swansea will be the first of the three toughest days of the Tour, with the peloton to get little respite as it navigates its way 151-kilometres across the hilly Welsh landscape and past the Brecon mountain range.
"We are delighted to be bringing the race back into Wales this year and look forward to a tough stage into Swansea this year," said the Tour's technical director Michael Bennett, of the stage that will see the event visit Wales for the first time since its inaugural edition in 2004.
Stages four (171 km) and five (176 km) will continue to keep the climbers happy as they make traverses across the counties of Somerset and Devon.
The peloton will then have to make a long transfer to the eastern side of the British landmass for a 189-kilometre stage from Kyng's Lynn to Great Yarmouth, which will be followed by the penultimate stage from Bury St Edmunds to Colchester (151 km). It is the first time the race will have visited the region.