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First Edition Cycling News, Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Date published:
August 24, 2011, 19:00
  • Tuft heads back to the WorldTour with GreenEdge

    Svein Tuft (SpiderTech p/b C10) celebrates his victory in the final stage of the Tour de Beauce.
    Article published:
    August 24, 2011, 01:22
    Jane Aubrey

    Canadian veteran says it was a tough decision to leave SpiderTech

    A "super hard work ethic" has landed Canadian Svein Tuft a spot in Shayne Bannan's GreenEdge project, with the 2008 world time trial silver medallist firm in the belief he has plenty to offer in the UCI WorldTour despite being 34.

    Just this week, Tuft, riding for Canadian outfit SpiderTech soloed to victory at the GP Stad Zottegem giving the team their first win in Europe this season. Steve Bauer's squad announced earlier this month that Tuft would be leaving for the ProTour in 2012, but his destination was unknown until today.

    "The thing I'm looking forward to most about being part of a new Australian team is racing the hardest races in the world with a strong crew that I know are capable of winning at the very highest level," Tuft said in the GreenEdge media release.

    "I really like the energy Australians have for bike racing. They race hard but have a lot of fun doing it. You still need to have a good time racing your bike at the end of the day."

    With SpiderTech still a season away from joining the ProTour, Tuft explained that 2012 was the year he felt he should test himself against the world's best.

    "I owe a lot of thanks to Steve Bauer and Josee Larocque, from SpiderTech-C10, who bailed me out of a tough situation in December and got me a great racing program with a lot of my good friends from Canada," Tuft said, having found himself without a ride for this season after the demise of Pegasus Sports.

    "Leaving SpiderTech-C10 has been one of the toughest decisions I've had to make in my cycling career as I think what they are doing for Canadian cycling is fantastic," he continued.

    "But I had to make a personal decision to get back to the UCI World Tour where I believe I have plenty more to give."


  • Anton's Vuelta hopes fade

    Igor Anton (Euskaltel-Euskadi) is one of the favourites to take overall honours.
    Article published:
    August 24, 2011, 02:05
    Cycling News

    Time loss on Sierra Nevada for Euskaltel-Euskadi leader

    Euskaltel-Euskadi had high hopes for its leader Igor Anton in this year's Vuelta a España, but a loss of 1:38 on the fourth stage to Sierra Nevada has seen those expectations fade.

    Anton won a stage and led the 2010 Vuelta for five days until a crash on stage 14 knocked him out of the race completely.

    In the team's press release, Anton said he doesn't quite have the same form as he did last year, but hasn't given up on a result in this year's race.

    "Today has been very complicated," he said. "Already on [stage 3] to Totana I didn't have the best feelings but managed to save the day, but today it was impossible to ride at the front. I did not had the best legs and lost important time for the overall."

    After conceding time in the opening team time trial in addition to today's loss, Anton is now 2:44 behind race leader Sylvain Chavanel, and 1:51 in arrears of 2010 winner Vincenzo Nibali.

    "Although we can't rule anything out, it's a lot of time to lose," he admitted. "A minute and a half is a very significant difference to account for. The Vuelta has only just begun and I do not want to think too much about this issue. We must be calm, race well and not rush to any conclusions. Now it's time to recover and tomorrow is another day."

    Anton can thank his teammates Gorka Verdugo and Amets Txurruka who helped pull him to the finish and limit the damage on the day.

    "My teammates did a great job and I did not lose very much time thanks to them," said Antón. "Verdugo did a very good climb and helped me so I didn't lose more time."

    Anton's bad day comes just before the Vuelta re-visits the site of his 2010 stage victory at Valdepeñas de Jaén, where he donned the points classification jersey, but after today's result, he doesn't see a repeat of that result in his future.

    "I don't have the points of last year, but I have clear and beautiful memories," Anton said. "I won the stage and took a leader's jersey... it was very exciting."

  • Leipheimer relies on team support during 'queen' stage two in Colorado

    Levi Leipheimer (Radioshack) sat in the bunch until just the right moment.
    Article published:
    August 24, 2011, 04:37
    Kirsten Frattini

    USA Pro Cycling Challenge approaches decisive Cottonwood and Independence Pass

    Levi Leipheimer (RadioShack) is heading into the ‘queen' stage two with a small lead ahead of his main competitors at the USA Pro Cycling Challenge. The American is sitting in yellow, four seconds ahead of Colombia's Sergio Henao (Gobernacion de Antioquia) in second and Luxembourg's Frank Schleck (Leopard Trek) in third. He believes, however, that additional contenders will arise over the two decisive ascents Cottonwood and Independence Pass, both positioned above 12,000 feet of elevation.

    Leipheimer placed seventh in the opening prologue but took over the race lead following his stage one victory on Mt Crested Butte. He will rely heavily on his RadioShack teammates to help control the race over the two significant ascents before descending into the Aspen finish line.

    "Obviously I am very happy to win and take the jersey," said Leipheimer who recently won the Tour of Utah. "It makes it difficult for my teammate tomorrow, but at the same they are fresh off of Utah, they know how to do it and they have done it. We are going to give it our best shot tomorrow. It will be a tough day, the queen stage, but I think we are all very proud to have this jersey and to be leading the first ever USA Pro Cycling Challenge."

    "Physically I feel great and on the best form of the year, but that is not everything, that is only one component to the bike race," he said. "Tomorrow will come down to the strength of my teammates more than anything and the strength of my competitors. There are a lot of things that are out of my control. All I can do is ride to the best of my ability and try to be as smart as possible."

    Despite stage one's challenging ascent to the top of Mt Crested Butte, the general classification contenders are only separated by seconds. Riders who could potentially move higher in the ranking include Tour de France winner Cadel Evans (BMC Racing), who finished fourth on the stage along with Christian Vande Velde and Tom Danielson (Garmin-Cervelo), Tejay Van Garderen (HTC-Highroad), Janier Acevedo and Oscar Sevilla (Gobernacion de Antioquia), among others.

    "Things can get out of control and out of hand," Leipheimer said. "There could be a big group that goes and there could be any number of people in that group. If I try to control [Sergio] Henao and Christian [Vande Velde], then it will be [Janier] Acevedo and Ryder [Hesjedal] up the road. It is too difficult to pick one person because there are a handful of potential threats. I think Christian is riding well, he did a good time trial. But, I can't pick, I'm not saying that I am not afraid of anybody, but there are a lot of strong guys."

    The USA Pro Cycling Challenge boasts high elevation between 6000 and 9000 feet and each stage accumulates a minimum of 5000 feet. Stage two will begin in Gunnison and include 9746 feet of elevation gain stretched over 210 km before finishing in Aspen. Leipheimer attributes his ability to race well at high elevation to his upbringing in Butte, Montana, along with many years of training and racing at higher elevations.

    "I think you get accustomed to the sensations and your body must acclimate to that over the years," Leipheimer said. "I can't generalize for everyone but you can't deny that most likely the altitude is playing a big factor with everyone. But Frank Schleck was third today and he hasn't been here that long. Then again it's Frank Schleck and he can come in and ride great. I think it was a good sign that I could put some time into [Sergio] Henao. I kept thinking that we would all lose a handful of seconds to him, and not the other way around. I was pleasantly surprised and happy about that. If guys came here hoping to do well but not acclimated then that was probably not a good choice."

  • Thomson and White go long on Colorado's first road stage

    Jay Thomson (Bissell) and Brad White (UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling) on the descent
    Article published:
    August 24, 2011, 06:29
    Peter Hymas

    White claims most aggressive rider jersey

    It was a case of déjà vu for Brad White (UnitedHealthcare) and Jay Thomson (Bissell) today in Colorado, for just as the pair made the early break on stage 1 at the Tour of Utah, nearly two weeks later they found themselves on the attack and off the front for nearly the entire opening road stage at the inaugural USA Pro Cycling Challenge.

    White and Thomson, along with William Dickeson (Jelly Belly p/b Kenda) and Eduard Beltran (EPM-UNE), attacked not long after passing kilometre zero on the 159.9km route from Salida to Mt. Crested Butte and quickly gained more than four minutes on the peloton.

    The field was content to let the lead quartet tackle the first high elevation summit of the seven-day Colorado stage race, the 11,315 foot Monarch Pass situated just 42.6km into the stage. The escapees rode together for nearly the entire 16.5km ascent, but with the mountains classification jersey to be awarded to the rider who crested the summit first, attacks would commence inside the final kilometre to the KOM line.

    Beltran crossed the summit alone in first place, followed 20 seconds later by White and Thomson, while Dickeson trailed at 50 seconds.

    "The Colombian looked the strongest on the climb," said Thomson. "He was playing with us, but he went so deep to go for the KOM that me and Brad, being bigger boys, went past him on the descent and he never got back on."

    When White and Thomson completed the 16.5km, high-speed plummet off of Monarch Pass they faced a dilemma. They led Beltran and Dickeson, who caught the Colombian at the bottom of the descent, by approximately 20 seconds.

    "We rode with in ourselves but he (Beltran) never came back," said Thomson. "Once we got a minute and half then two minutes [on Beltran, who had subsequently dropped Dickeson] we started riding harder. We were thinking about trying to stay away until the end. That is the point of trying to go in those breaks is to try and get coverage from the team and try and stay away before the bunch comes. It was great to find my legs again, it’s been a while."

    Thomson's companion Brad White was also highly motivated today as his team's title sponsor, UnitedHealthcare, sponsored stage 1.

    "It was good for me to get up the road and take some pressure off our team and Rory [Sutherland] has some GC ambitions here for sure," said Thomson. "I don't mind being in the peloton but it is one of my jobs to try and get in the breaks and if I am not in the breaks then I likely ride the front anyway, so either way I am going to be in the wind.

    "UnitedHealthcare has done a great job sponsoring this race and sponsoring our team. They put on a lot of good events here in the US and it was good to get some TV time and thanks them for what they do for us."

    The pair fought valiantly to fend off the peloton on the wide open, windswept latter portion of the stage, but ultimately were captured with approximately 14.5 kilometres to go. For his efforts on stage 1, White was awarded the most aggressive rider jersey.

    While Thomson didn't garner any post-stage podium time for his lengthy stint on the attack, he has high hopes for breakaway success after tomorrow's queen stage.

    "I think the chances of winning a stage might be easier than at Utah because with the queen stage coming up, the GC will get sorted out and they might let a group go away and I will look for those opportunities," said Thomson. "I would love to finish out my season this year with a win at something as big as this. I will keep on trying.

    "It would have been great to get a jersey, but not getting a jersey, I'm still happy. Bissell came here to race and not just sit in the bunch and get ridden off at the finish. We had someone in the break all day and that is a job well done for the whole team."

  • BMC has several tactical options for US Pro Challenge mountain stage

    Cadel Evans (BMC) cruises in the bunch.
    Article published:
    August 24, 2011, 07:00
    Cycling News

    Aspen stage to test the strength of Leipheimer's RadioShack team

    BMC may have lost the battle on stage one of the US Pro Cycling Challenge in Crested Butte, but the American team are well placed to assault Levi Leipheimer’s (RadioShack) slender lead on Wednesday's queen stage that finishes in the ski resort town of Aspen.

    Four riders from BMC sit in the top 10: Cadel Evans is the best placed at 17 seconds but Brent Bookwalter (6th at 0:34), George Hincapie (8th at 0:37), and Jeff Louder (10th at 0:41) are all close enough to give the team several options. Despite the Australian’s current lofty position in the overall standings, he knows that beating Leipheimer is going to be a difficult task.

    "I came here with big ambitions, but not great expectations," said Evans. "There are guys who had time to prepare for it well, or recover from the Tour, or they didn't ride the Tour."

    "The guys who are well-adapted and acclimatized to the altitude are always going to be at an advantage. I'm just sort of taking it as it comes."

    Trying to isolate Leipheimer with a long range move is certainly a possibility for BMC, particularly considering the American’s team crumbled on the queen stage of the Tour of Utah with a stronger roster and against lesser competition earlier in the month. The absence of Chris Horner, who was originally down to ride in Colorado, will be resoundingly tested on the road to Aspen.

    "Today, the strongest guy won," Evans said. "We'll see what we [BMC] can do against them [RadioShack]."

  • Astana reduces roster thanks to Kireyev retirement

    Alexandre Vinokourov (Astana) was foiled in his bold bid to take the yellow jersey.
    Article published:
    August 24, 2011, 09:27
    Barry Ryan

    Vinokourov and Kasheckin both part of 28-man team roster

    Astana has announced that Roman Kireyev has retired from professional cycling with immediate effect, seemingly leaving the way clear for both Alexandre Vinokourov and Andrey Kashechkin to compete for the Kazakh squad.

    Astana began the season with 28 riders on its roster, the maximum permitted in a ProTeam under UCI regulations. When Vinokourov stated his intention to retire after he broke his femur in a crash at the Tour de France, his berth on the team was taken by Kashechkin, who rejoined from Lampre-ISD, and is currently riding in the Vuelta a España.

    On Saturday, however, Vinokourov insisted that he had not yet called time on his career and that he was training with the aim of competing in the Tour of Lombardy in October. This development meant that Astana had 29 registered riders, rather than the permitted 28.

    Astana has since issued a statement declaring that Roman Kireyev intimated his decision to retire on Friday, and that the UCI was informed on Monday.

    “On Friday, 19 August 2011, the rider of Pro Team Astana Roman Kireyev informed the management of Pro Team Astana about his decision to finish his career as professional cyclist,” read the statement. “This information wasn't unexpected for the management of the team, because Roman already discussed this step with sport directors few months ago.”

    According to Astana’s statement, Kireyev, who only turned 24 in February, has been forced to retire due to injury. The Kazakh joined Astana in 2008, and he completed the Giro d’Italia last season. He recently finished a solid 40th in the Tour de l'Ain stage race in France.

    “Roman explained that he suffered too much from his back injury, which he got last year, and this situation had become unbearable to him. Pro Team Astana informed about this case UCI, which confirmed the reception of the contract resignation on Monday, 22 August 2011.”

    Kireyev’s retirement brings the number of riders on Astana's roster back to 28. His name has already been removed from the Astana roster on the UCI website.

    A report in L’Équipe on Sunday suggested that Andrey Kashechkin had been signed by Astana’s commercial manager Aidar Makhmetov against Vinokourov’s wishes. Makhmetov subsequently told Cyclingnews that Vinokourov was free to continue as either a rider or a manager with Astana in 2012, but he defended the recruitment of Kasheckin, describing him as “the co-founder of the team.”

    Kashechkin and Vinokourov both tested positive for blood doping while riding for Astana. Vinokourov was caught during the Tour de France, while Kashechkin resulted positive a few days after quitting the race.





  • Holczer set to become Katusha team manager in 2012

    Andrei Tchmil
    Article published:
    August 24, 2011, 14:32
    Stephen Farrand

    Tchmil hopes to become president of the European Cycling Union

    Andrei Tchmil is set to be replaced by Hans-Michael Holczer as team manager of the Katusha team as the former classics rider targets a key role in the politics of international cycling as the president of the European Cycling Union (ECU).

    Cyclingnews understands that Tchmil will hold a press conference in Russia on Saturday with Holczer and Igor Makarov, the president of the Cycling Federation of Russia. Makarov is the head of the Itera gas company, one of the key backers of the Katusha team and also a sponsor of the European Cycling Union.

    Holczer is likely to take on a more administrative and financial role at Katusha, with Tchmil remaining as President of the team. Highly respected directeur sportif Valerio Piva has already agreed to join Katusha in 2012 following the demise of HTC-Highroad.

    Holczer managed the Gerolsteiner team in Germany until 2008. He closed down the team after the water company decided to end its sponsorship. In October 2008, team leaders Stefan Schumacher and Bernhard Kohl tested positive for the blood boosting drug CERA.

    Holczer has always denied any knowledge of what his riders were doing and later wrote a revealing book about his time as the Gerolsteiner manager. He has most recently worked with Skoda and their involvement in cycling.

    Tchmil has had mixed fortunes as the Katusha manager. Joaquin Rodriguez ended the 2010 season atop the UCI WorldTour ranking but the team struggled to be competitive in the classics with Filippo Pozzato. The Italian is set to leave at the end of the season.

    Tchmil served as Minister for sport in Moldova but would hold a far more influential position is he became the president of the European Cycling Union. The position is currently held by Wojciech Walkiewicz from Poland, who was elected in 2009.

    The UEC is one of five continental federations. It represents 48 European country members and organises the European Cycling Championships. The history and traditions of European cycling give it far more influence and power than the other continental federations. Each continental federation president has a place on the UCI Management Committee.

    The Presidency of the ECU could be a springboard for Tchmil to challenge for the role of president of the UCI, perhaps replacing Pat McQuaid.

  • Rodriguez confirms his Vuelta intentions

    Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) was a popular winner at Valdepeñas de Jaén.
    Article published:
    August 24, 2011, 17:44
    Stephen Farrand

    Katusha leader praises his teammates after back to back stage wins

    Joaquin Rodriguez praised his Katusha teammates and fired a warning shot to his overall Vuelta a España rivals after he won atop the steep finish in Valdepeñas de Jaén.

    ‘Purito’ Rodriguez completed back to back stage victories for the Russian team after Daniel Moreno won on the Sierra Nevada on Tuesday and praised the way his teammates rode hard for much of the stage to control the breakaways and set him up for victory.

    “Katusha has never hidden the fact that we’re here to win the general classification but we know there are still a lot of stages (to go) and our rivals are strong and well-organized. I just want to enjoy these two wins, which are all the team’s merit: for everything else there’s still plenty of time," Rodriguez said in a statement from the Katusha team.

    "We knew it would have been a very hard stage to win and the fact that the breakaway consisted of strong riders made things even more complicated. It wasn’t easy to catch them: the team did excellent work once again, allowing me to fight for the win. The last kilometre was really spectacular. It was like a big Belgian classic with a huge crowd. Everyone was yelling “Purito!”

    Eight precious seconds

    Rodriguez gained eight precious seconds on some of his key overall rivals and much more than that on others. He moved to third overall, 23 seconds down on Sylvain Chavanel (Quick Step). Moreno is even closer in second place, just nine seconds back.

    “I’ve achieved more than I expected with the gap I created over my adversaries in such a short distance,” Rodriguez said.

    “I don’t think I have spent more energy than the others though. Everyone will be tired after such a stage. It’s often said in cycling that the winners are less tired than the others because of their high morale.”

    “It’s not a surprise for me to do this because I’ve said since the beginning of the Vuelta that I was here for the win. I’m satisfied with where I’m standing on GC. Most of the favourites are still in contention with no big time differences."

    Last year Rodriguez lost four minutes and any chance of victory in the Vuelta on the key time trial stage around Peñafiel. This year he is more confident about his consistency.

    “Many things can change, as we saw last year with the time trial. But I expect to stay at the same level in the mountains until the end of the Vuelta,” he warned.