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First Edition Cycling News, Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Date published:
August 26, 2009, 1:00 BST
  • Valjavec aims for Vuelta top five, AG2R names full team

    Tadej Valjavec called to the podium
    Article published:
    August 25, 2009, 15:04 BST
    By:
    Richard Tyler

    Stage victories a priority as French team look to improve on podium record

    AG2R La Mondiale named Tadej Valjavec as leader for the Vuelta a España and confirmed its final nine-man selection Tuesday. Its main goal for the race will be a high overall finish for Valjavec and stage wins, said the French team.

    Jose-Luis Arrieta, Alexander Efimkin, Sébastien Hinault, Julien Loubet, John Gadret, Rinaldo Nocentini, Christophe Riblon and Ludovic Turpin will support Slovenia's Valjavec, 32.

    "We are looking for a place in the top ten or even top five [for Valjavec]," said Directeur Sportif Vincent Lavenu.

    "We will also look for the stage wins that we really need this season. Our riders have managed to get good results in big races like the Grand Tours, but we lack the stage victories that we would ease the pressure a little."

    Last year the team won 12 races, including two stages of the Tour de France through Vladimir Efimkin and Cyril Dessel. The recruitment of Swiss sprinter Aurélien Clerc and Frenchman Sébastien Hinault at the end of 2008 had been hoped to provide a further boost to podium appearances. However, neither rider has provided more than a spatter of top-ten results since they joined the team.

    This year, despite Nocentini's possession of the Tour de France's yellow jersey for eight days in July, the team has been bereft of race victories. Team talisman Dessel crashed on stage six of the French Grand Tour; an incident that added injury to the insult of only one top-ten stage finish all year.

    Nocentini has been the team's most consistent performer. He opened AG2R's account on stage seven of the Tour of California in February, but since then the team has only added a further four victories this season. It is a situation that the team hopes to turn around in Spain.

    Lavenu said the team has been selected to increase and seize opportunities for stage victories. "John Gadret, Rinaldo Nocentini and Sébastien Hinault are quite capable [of stage wins]....

  • Boonen hunting stage wins at Vuelta

    Tom Boonen (Quick Step)
    Article published:
    August 25, 2009, 19:12 BST
    By:
    Richard Tyler

    Quick Step completes roster for Spanish Grand Tour

    Quick Step hopes to turn a brief home visit to its advantage at this year's Vuelta a España after the team named its final roster for the race on Tuesday. Tom Boonen will captain the team with an eye toward Vuelta stage wins to bring a positive end to what has been a controversial year for the Belgian.

    While the hilly, stage four finish in Liège is unlikely to suit Boonen, the days on either side could provide the opportunity for him to put his positive tests for cocaine and subsequent poor performance at the Tour de France behind him.

    Boonen has recently shown signs that he may have edged back towards the condition that saw him win his third Paris-Roubaix title in April. He won stage three of the Eneco Tour last week before he pulled out on stage six to complete preparation for the Vuelta. His battle with Garmin sprinter Tyler Farrar at the Benelux Tour provided an insight into the challenge Boonen will face in Spain.

    Last year, Quick Step took five Vuelta stage victories, with Boonen responsible for two of those. Another of the team's Vuelta stage winners in 2008, Wouter Weylandt, is also set to return this year.

    Stijn Devolder will start his second Grand Tour after racing the Tour de France in July, while Belgian compatriots Kevin De Weert and Maarten Wijnants will face their first three-week race this season.

    Italians Matteo Tosatto and Marco Velo will bolster Boonen's leadout train, as will Australian Allan Davis. Quick Step's sole Spanish rider and winner of this month's Clásica San Sebastián Carlos Barredo has also been named.

    "We'll be on the starting line with a very competitive team made up of highly valid and motivated riders," said Directeur Sportif Wilfried Peeters. "Our main objective is to win stages, even if it won't be easy to repeat last year's result of five stage wins. This year starting in Holland and passing through the roads of Belgium in front of our fans will...

  • Bruyneel confirmed for Team RadioShack

    Lance Armstrong rides in Dublin, Ireland's Phoenix Park on Tuesday. Armstrong is in Ireland for the three-day Livestrong global cancer summit.
    Article published:
    August 25, 2009, 23:02 BST
    By:
    Richard Tyler

    Armstrong doesn't rule out Landis joining RadioShack

    Lance Armstrong has confirmed that he will be joined by long-time Directeur Sportif Johan Bruyneel at Team RadioShack. In comments reported by American wire service Bloomberg on Tuesday, Armstrong, in Dublin, Ireland for a Livestrong-sponsored world cancer summit, said that the Belgian would be part of the new team when it begins racing next year. At the same time the seven-time Tour de France winner failed to rule out the possibility of former U.S. Postal teammate Floyd Landis joining RadioShack.

    "[Johan] Bruyneel is a master at acquiring guys and building the best teams," said Armstrong, according to Bloomberg. "He'll be there."

    Bruyneel, who remains under contract with Astana until the end of next year, will need to seek a release from the contract in order to take up a position with Team RadioShack. "[Bruyneel's] release has got to be negotiated," Astana's Press Officer Philippe Maertens told Bloomberg. "It's not clear how long this will take. It could be a few days, a week or longer."

    Despite his certainty over Bruyneel's participation in the RadioShack start-up Armstrong remained cagey when it came to another former colleague: Floyd Landis. The Texan would not deny the possibility of the two riding together once more.

    "I wouldn't rule anything out," Armstrong said. "[Floyd Landis] is a great rider, a tremendous story."

    Landis rode alongside Armstrong at U.S. Postal for three of the Texan's Tour de France wins. Landis left the team to join Phonak, where he was stripped of his own Tour de France title after a positive test for testosterone in 2006, the year after Armstrong's initial retirement.

    Armstrong returned to professional cycling this year with Astana after a three-year retirement. He finished third overall at this year's Tour de France after a tense battle with teammate and eventual Tour champion, Alberto Contador.

    Armstrong has admitted to being under-prepared for this year's Tour de France,...

  • Eltink will leave Skil-Shimano

    Theo Eltink (Skil-Shimano) steadies himself in the start hut.
    Article published:
    August 26, 2009, 1:34 BST
    By:
    Greg Johnson

    Dutch rider let go after one year

    Theo Eltink will not have his contract with Skil-Shimano extended, the Dutch team has announced. The 27 year-old have failed to impress his new squad, joining it in 2009 after 11 seasons with Rabobank’s teams.

    “The team management at Skil-Shimano had hoped that Eltink would be able to achieve some personal success after working for others for years at Rabobank, but the Dutch rider has been unable to fulfil those expectations,” said a release from the team.

    Eltink has recorded very few results during the 2009 season, taking a 10th place finish at Zottegem - Dr Tistaertprijs and 27th at Cyclassics Hamburg.

    Skil-Shimano is one of three teams hoping to be granted a ProTour licence next year, should one become available.

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  • Cervelo focused on Vuelta stage wins with final line-up

    Simon Gerrans (Cervélo TestTeam) speaks to the media.
    Article published:
    August 26, 2009, 3:13 BST
    By:
    Richard Tyler

    Gerrans aiming at second Grand Tour stage win of 2009

    Cervélo TestTeam has made clear its intention for the Vuelta a España after it named a team bulging with riders capable of claiming stage wins on Tuesday. Australian Simon Gerrans is one of three riders in the nine-man squad who have contributed to the team's total of 20 season victories.

    Gerrans will face up to his second Grand Tour of the season. He claimed stage 14 of this year's Giro d'Italia before he was omitted from the Cervélo team for the Tour de France. The unexpected mid-season break has proven to be fruitful for Gerrans as he claimed ProTour event, the GP Ouest-France, on Sunday.

    Gerrans will be joined at the Vuelta by fellow Giro d'Italia stage winner Ignatas Konovalovas and Tour of Qatar stage winner Roger Hammond.

    Spanish riders Xavier Florencio, Iñigo Cuesta and José Angel Gomez Marchante have been named, while Ireland's Philip Deignan, Norwegian Gabriel Rasch and Canadian Dominique Rollin complete the international squad.

    In the absence of Carlos Sastre, Gomez Marchante will carry the team's hopes for a high finish on general classification.

    Despite the approach of the final races on the calendar said Cervélo Team Manager Thomas Campana said the team remained motivated after a solid debut season.

    "The guys are still hungry and they’re prepared to work hard to achieve top results in the next couple of months leading to the end of the season," said Campana.

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  • Leipheimer won’t challenge USPro title

    USA's Levi Leipheimer (Astana)
    Article published:
    August 26, 2009, 4:37 BST
    By:
    Kirsten Frattini

    Cautious recovery puts focus on Missouri

    Levi Leipheimer’s (Astana) dream of adding another US Pro Championship title to his palmares broke along with his wrist at the Tour de France in July. Six weeks later while his wrist has nearly recovered it hasn’t come along enough for Leipheimer to enter this weekend’s USPro Road and Time Trial Championships in Greenville, South Carolina.

    “No, I’m not going. It’s too soon,” said Leipheimer. “Saturday is the time trial and Friday would be six weeks from the surgery and that’s the minimum time it takes for the bones to heal.”

    The Grand Tour contender won the road race in 2007. His aim this time was to try and beat defending individual time trial champion David Zabriskie (Garmin-Slipstream) from his three year hold on the title.

    “I was looking forward to Greenville,” said Leipheimer. “I was going to give the time trial a go this year. The road race is tricky to win and you’re a bit of a target so it becomes very tactical.

    “I thought I’d have a better chance in the time trial because it’s more predictable,” he added. “But after I broke my wrist I realised that it wasn’t going to be possible.”

    Doctors gave Leipheimer six weeks, a loose prognosis of when a healing bone might be solid enough for activity. However Leipheimer has chosen to err on the side of caution, allowing the healing process a further two weeks. He hopes to be ready for the Tour of Missouri, which begins in St. Louis on September 7.

    “I’m hoping to do Missouri, I do feel like I could do well there,” said Leipheimer. “I think I can go there and be competitive, maybe not win, but the main thing is to get back to racing. Day by day it gets stronger, I have more movement and the swelling has gone down a lot. I think by another two weeks, which is Missouri, I’ll be fine and good enough race.”

    ...
  • Gerdemann convinced Milram is ready for success

    Linus Gerdemann (Team Milram) rides in the break up the Côte d'Araches.
    Article published:
    August 26, 2009, 9:38 BST
    By:
    Susan Westemeyer

    German looking for stage wins in Vuelta a España as he looks to 2010

    Linus Gerdemann of Team Milram says he is convinced that the German ProTour team will be rewarded for its hard work this season. With just seven wins this season Milram is well behind the pre-season goal of 25 wins set by general manager Gerry van Gerwen, but Gerdemann says the team is on the right path for success.

    The 26-year-old hopes to do his part with a stage win in the Vuelta a España. He told Cyclingnews that he hasn't picked out any particular stages at the race and "will look from day-to-day and do something when I feel good."

    After the Vuelta, Gerdemann's plan is to ride the World championships in Mendrisio, Switzerland, but will wait and see how he performs in Spain before making a final decision "[I will have to see] what shape I'm in at the end [of the Vuelta], and how I feel. Only then can I formulate my goals for the Worlds."

    Gerdemann has not been satisfied with his own season so far. His year had been structured around the Tour de France and his 24th place finish overall had not met his pre-race hopes. "The Tour, as it went, didn't meet my expectations. This season I have had one or two good successes, but at the Tour I was not able to do what I had expected of myself."

    Gerdemann has reflected upon what went wrong for him in France and he said he had wanted "too much too quickly" in his preparations for the race. Next season would "try to be more focused, especially leading up to the Tour de France."

    Milram has only seven victories so far this year, far below the 25 wins boldly predicted by Ganeral Manager Gerry van Gerwen before the start of the season. From Gerdemann's perspective, he felt the team has ridden aggressively and actively in nearly every race, and often come close to winning.

    "There is a sort of momentum in cycling that is part of bringing in a lot of win. We simply have not gotten that momentum," he said. "So, basically, I am convinced that sooner or later we will...

  • All for Valverde as Caisse d'Epargne name Vuelta squad

    Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne) and Damiano Cunego (Lampre-NGC)
    Article published:
    August 26, 2009, 11:39 BST
    By:
    Richard Tyler

    Unzúe picks experienced team in quest for gold jersey

    Caisse d'Epargne has named the team that will support Alejandro Valverde in his bid to win the Vuelta a España. As expected Valverde will be the focal point for the team's efforts as he embarks upon his first Grand Tour appearance of the year.

    Team director Eusebio Unzúe has selected an experienced squad to support Valverde's general classification ambitions in the race. Almost all of the riders selected for the Vuelta team have already ridden alongside the former Spanish champion this season at his overall race victories in the Volta a Catalunya, Dauphiné Libéré and Volta a Burgos.

    Spaniards Xavier Zandio, Imanol Erviti, David López, Daniel Moreno, Francisco Pérez, Joaquím Rodriguez and veteran professional José Vicente García Acosta have all been named. Belorussian Vasili Kiryienka will be the only non-Spanish member of the team.

    Despite being named in the team's original long list for the race, Óscar Pereiro missed out on selection. Pereiro recently hinted that he may retire from cycling altogether as he battles with fatigue and low motivation.

    Valverde has finished in the top-five at each of his four Vuelta participations. He finished second to Alexandre Vinokourov in 2006, his best result in the three-week race.

    The 2009 Vuelta a España begins on Saturday with a 4.5km prologue in Assen, the Netherlands. The race will be completed in Madrid on September 20.

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