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First Edition Cycling News, Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Date published:
August 17, 2011, 1:00 BST
  • Rodriguez on top form ahead of Vuelta assault

    Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) on the podium
    Article published:
    August 16, 2011, 11:07 BST
    By:
    Cycling News

    Katusha rider confident of avoiding repeat of last year's TT disaster

    Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) arrives at the Vuelta a Espana in near perfect form and is hoping that 2011 is the year he finally breaks through at the Spanish Grand Tour. Rodriguez, 32, recently won the Vuelta a Burgos, and was a league above other Vuelta contenders Igor Anton [8th overall] and Denis Menchov [24th overall].

    "I’m not hiding that I’m well and that I’m going to race to win," said Rodriguez. "It will be twenty days of hard racing - many things can happen but I know that I’ve worked the best I could have. I'm confident of delivering a better result than last year’s fourth place overall."

    The Spaniard wore the red leader's jersey after the finish of stage 16 of last year's race, but completely collapsed on the following day's time trial to concede 6:12 to stage winner Peter Velits (HTC-Highroad) and any hope of overall victory. After significant work on his position over the off-season, he has shown some improvement against the clock. At the Giro d'Italia, he finished 40th in the final stage time trial in Milan, and at the Criterium du Dauphine he clocked a respectable time of 59:23 on the stage around Grenoble.

    Neither are huge leaps, but they do show that the Spaniard is capable of minimising his losses in the Vuelta's only time trial test, a flat 47km around Salamanca.

    "My performances against the clock have improved at the Giro and the Dauphiné but it doesn’t mean that I’m becoming a time trial specialist," he said. "I’ve worked really hard on riding better than I did in Peñafiel last year. I hope to avoid another disaster like that this year."

    Supporting Rodriguez will be a strong Katusha team,...

  • Wiggins leads Sky line-up at Vuelta a España

    Bradley Wiggins (Sky) is enjoying life as British champion.
    Article published:
    August 16, 2011, 12:07 BST
    By:
    Cycling News

    Lofkvist, Zandio and Cioni to offer support on climbs

    Bradley Wiggins makes his return to competitive action on Saturday as leader of a strong Sky line-up at the Vuelta a España. The Englishman has not raced since a broken collarbone ended his Tour de France challenge on stage 7.

    Wiggins had entered the French race with high expectations after his victory at the Criterium du Dauphiné in June, and he will now be aiming to make amends for his ill fortune at the Tour with a strong showing in his debut Vuelta. He will be flanked by a solid cadre of climbers in Spain, including Thomas Lofkvist, Xabier Zandio and Dario Cioni.

    “I'm looking forward to making my return at the Vuelta a España,” Wiggins said. “It's a race I haven't ridden before so it'll be exciting to take part in and I want to produce a strong performance for all those people who have supported me since my crash at the Tour de France. The level of encouragement I've received has been overwhelming and I'd like to do everyone proud. I have a great team here to support me and it should be a really exciting three weeks of racing."

    Sky team principal Dave Brailsford welcomed Wiggins’ return to action, but warned that his current state of form is something of an unknown given that he has been sidelined from competitive action since the Tour.

    "Having Bradley back has reinvigorated us all,” Brailsford admitted. “He will lead the team and has recovered and trained well since his operation, but the fact he hasn't been able to race for seven weeks means we will have to take things day by day.”

    In spite of Wiggins’ early withdrawal from the Tour, Sky enjoyed considerable success in July thanks largely...

  • Menchov and Sastre lead Geox-TMC Vuelta a España challenge

    Denis Menchov (Geox-TMC) had a bad day
    Article published:
    August 16, 2011, 15:11 BST
    By:
    Cycling News

    Russian seeking third overall victory

    Geox-TMC has named the squad that will support Denis Menchov in his bid to for a third Vuelta a España title. The Russian won the race in 2005 and 2007, and will be flanked by 2008 Tour de France winner Carlos Sastre this time around.

    The new team suffered an early setback when it failed to secure a wildcard invitation to the Tour de France and Menchov and Sastre instead lined up at the Giro d’Italia. While Menchov struggled in the opening week in Italy, he finished strongly to secure eighth place overall, and he is confident that he will start the Vuelta in better condition.

    “After the Giro d'Italia I underwent a structured training programme to prepare for the Vuelta, to get here in the best possible shape," Menchov said. "This is a race I really love, and in which I've already obtained two prestigious victories.”

    Given his proven pedigree, Menchov will begin the race with the aim of wearing the red jersey into Madrid, although he acknowledged that the competition will be fierce over such an exacting route.

    “Of course, I'm starting out with the objective of obtaining the maximum result, although it won't be easy,” Menchov said. “The route is gruelling and I'll be going up against some very competitive rivals. Fortunately, I'll be able to count on the support of some excellent riders. I think our squad is well equipped to put in a good race."

    Chief among them is Carlos Sastre, who should form an intriguing tandem with Menchov in the high mountains. The Spaniard failed to make an impact at the Giro, but showed encouraging signs of form at the Tour of Austria, and his motivation is high for his home tour.

    “I'm happy with...

  • Jalabert not confident of Feillu's Worlds participation

    Romain Feillu (Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team)
    Article published:
    August 16, 2011, 20:27 BST
    By:
    Cycling News

    Frenchman recovering from broken collarbone

    While France is set to have a full complement of nine riders at the world championships road race in Copenhagen in September, manager Laurent Jalabert has acknowledged that prospective leader Romain Feillu (Vacansoleil-DCM) will struggle to regain fitness in time for the race.

    Feillu crashed and broke his collarbone in the bunch sprint at the end of the final stage of the Tour of Poland in Krakow. He is not set to return to competitive action until Paris-Brussels, just two weeks ahead of the Worlds, and Jalabert is not optimistic about his chances of selection.

    “In my opinion, he won’t be on the plane,” Jalabert told L’Équipe. “He was the rider who offered the most guarantees, but his injury has come at the worst moment. He won’t be back until Paris-Brussels, a fortnight before Copenhagen. I don’t want to discourage him, I know that he is doing everything possible to get back in time, but it’s started badly.”

    With eight victories to his name this season, Feillu appeared to be the French rider best-suited to the sprinters’ course in Denmark, and Jalabert acknowledged that a fully-fit Feillu would have led his line-up.

    “With Feillu on top form, it would have been all for him,” Jalabert said. “This season, he has been the best. Last year in Melbourne, he didn’t disappoint me [Feillu finished 10th in the 2010 Worlds – ed], so it was logical that I would give him my confidence again.”

    As...

  • Langeveld joins GreenEdge

    Sebastian Langeveld (Rabobank)
    Article published:
    August 17, 2011, 2:31 BST
    By:
    Cycling News

    Bannan says Dutchman is "on the verge of the best part of his career"

    GreenEdge has announced the signing of Sebastian Langeveld from Rabobank, with team general manager Shayne Bannan believing the Dutchman is the right fit for the project's classics ambitions.

    "When you look through the list of young riders that are potential winners of races like Flanders or Paris-Roubaix, Sebastian's name is right up the top," Bannan said via a statement on the GreenEdge website.

    "We want to build a strong team for the spring classics because they are such dramatic races that are at the heart of cycling's long tradition. And we believe, given time and the right support, Sebastian can be successful in these races.

    "He's on the verge of the best part of his career with plenty of years in front of him. I believe we can provide him with the best support available, on and off the bike, to help him to achieve all his objectives."

    In 2011, Langeveld scored the biggest win of his career at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad. He was best young rider at the 2010 Tour du Limousin and won the GP Jef Scherens in 2009. The 26-year-old believes that joining GreenEdge will aid him in taking the next step in his career.

    "I enjoyed my time at Rabobank and they have helped me get to this point in my career," he said. "But I'm ready for the next step. I'm ready to take on more of a leadership role and GreenEdge Cycling gives me that opportunity," Langeveld said.

    "From when I started racing I've always dreamt about the spring classics, particularly the Tour of Flanders, Paris-Roubaix and coming from the Amstel Gold Race. Joining GreenEdge is the best move for me to be able to make these dreams a reality."

     

  • The experts preview the Vuelta a España for Cyclingnews

    The 2011 Vuelta a Espana route
    Article published:
    August 17, 2011, 3:55 BST
    By:
    Cycling News

    Anton, Guillén, Lopez and Weltz analyse the race

    Just a month after finish of the Tour de France, the final Grand Tour of the 2011 season, the Vuelta a España will begin on Saturday in Benidorm. The 66th edition takes in the entire length and much of the breadth of Spain, from the Mediterranean coast to the Basque country then back to Madrid for the traditional finish.

    Cyclingnews has put together a stage-by-stage guide of the race, with key details, descriptions, and insider analysis from race director Javier Guillén, Movistar’s David López, Euskaltel-Euskadi’s Igor Antón and Johnny Weltz, the Garmin-Cervélo DS and ex-ONCE pro.

    Javier Guillén has again decided to kick off this year’s race with a team time trial - though uniquely it starts on a beach.

    "The start ramp will actually be right on the sand, which will provide a great spectacle."

    After only three days of racing the Vuelta arrives at its first high mountain peak, with a testing finish on the difficult Sierra Nevada. Igor Anton, who abandoned the race while wearing the leader's jeresey in 2010, felt that the climb could well surprise many coming so early in the race.

    "This is going to be a complicated stage. You will need to be well placed going onto the final climb because there will be some significant gaps at the finish today."

    The crucial time trial in

  • Evans recognised in Australian Federal Parliament

    Cadel Evans (BMC) races to Paris
    Article published:
    August 17, 2011, 5:30 BST
    By:
    Cycling News

    Prime Minister officially congratulates Tour winner

    Cadel Evans and his achievement in becoming Australia's first ever Tour de France winner has been lauded as Federal Parliament returned from its five-week winter break.

    In her opening remarks in the first session of question time, Prime Minister Julia Gillard congratulated the BMC rider before getting on with the more pressing issues facing the nation.

    "Cadel is a grand old Welsh name meaning 'battle', and battle he did - a tremendous battle showing great perseverance to win the Tour de France," she said.

    It was the first time in recent memory that someone from the sporting field had been recognised in such a manner.

    Evans arrived in the United States on Sunday to prepare for the USA Pro Cycling Challenge and pointed out that that the Prime Minister's schedule had to be adjusted in order to fit into his before 72-hour visit home to Australia.

    "The altitude is going to be hard that is why I got here as early as I could. They had to shuffle the Australian Prime Minister's schedule around just so that I could be here and have time to acclimatise," he said.

    While in Australia, Evans was honoured in the Victorian capital, Melbourne, with around 25000 people attending a welcome home parade in Federation Square.

    Continuing her speech in parliament, Prime Minister Gillard said that she had spoken to Victorian Premier Ted Baillieu who explained that the city was still buzzing.

    "He [Baillieu] told me what a terrific event it was for Cadel and for his family, for the people of Victoria and, of course, for the people of...

  • Russian national team bound for Tour of Tasmania

    Alexander Serov (Tinkoff Credit Systems) was part of the main break of the day.
    Article published:
    August 17, 2011, 7:02 BST
    By:
    Jane Aubrey

    Squad will also line-up for Launceston to New Norfolk

    The Tour of Tasmania has announced the inclusion of the Russian national team to the line-up of the gruelling 542.7 kilometre event, the ninth of the National Road Series calendar which starts October 4. The event will be the fourth and final race of the Scody Cup.

    The full squad of eight riders is yet to be announced, but race organisers have confirmed that the four members of the silver medal-winning team pursuit from the UCI Track World Championships in March will make the trip to Tasmania. Alexander Serov, Alexei Markov, along with Ivan and Evgeny Kovalev were pipped for the gold medal by Australia. The team will be managed by Russia's national cycling coach, German-born Heiko Salzwedel.

    Tour director John Craven said the Russian's presence would be a huge boost for Tasmanian cycling.

    "The original contact came from Heiko who worked at the Australian Institute of Sport in the early 1990s," he said. "There are dozens of races around the world at that time of the year that Heiko could have worked towards, but he was keen on Tasmania.

    "This speaks volumes for how the Tour of Tasmania is viewed not only nationally, but internationally."

    Earlier this season, Markov won the second stage of the Flèche du Sud while Serov took out Stage 4.The latter is no stranger to Australian domestic road racing having competed in the Cronulla International Grand...