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First Edition Cycling News, Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Date published:
August 3, 2011, 03:00
  • Transfer news: Vicioso, Meersman, Gretsch

    Angel Vicioso Arcos (Androni Giocattoli)
    Article published:
    August 2, 2011, 16:16
    By:
    Peter Cossins

    Vicioso joins Katusha, Meersman to RadioShack, Gretsch to Skil-Shimano

    Katusha is boosting its contingent of Spanish riders with the reported signing of Ángel Vicioso. A stage winner at the Giro d’Italia earlier this season, Vicioso is set to join Joaquim Rodríguez, Alberto Losada, Dani Moreno and Joan Horrach at the Russian team.

    According to BiciCiclismo, Vicioso has signed a one-year deal with Katusha. The 34-year-old puncheur has spent this season with the Italian Androni Giocattoli team, winning the GP Industria e Artigianato as well as the Giro stage into Rapallo.

    The move will see Vicioso return to the top level of the sport for the first time since 2006, when he rode for Liberty Seguros.

    Meersman and Gretsch on the move

    After four years at FDJ, Gianni Meersman will ride for RadioShack in 2012. The move marks a homecoming of sorts for the 25-year-old Belgian, who turned professional with Johan Bruyneel’s Discovery Channel squad in 2007 and whose father Luc is RadioShack’s logistics manager.

    “I had four beautiful seasons with FDJ but I thought it was time for a change of air,” Meersman told Het Nieuwsblad. “I’m making the step up to a ProTour team. The programme at RadioShack appeals to me more than at FDJ.”

    Winner of the Circuit des Ardennes this season, Meersman is hopeful that he can step up a level at RadioShack. “I want to go on now and show up in the bigger races,” he said.

    Another rider on the move is Patrick Gretsch, who will leave HTC-Highroad for Skil-Shimano at the end of the season. The 24-year-old German has agreed a two-year contact with his new squad.

    A solid time triallist, Gretsch won the prologue of the Ster ZLM Toer in June and followed that up with third in the German national championships. He is hopeful that he can apply his talents across a range of roles at Skil-Shimano.

    “I want to develop my time trial further and also pay attention to the other disciplines, because I realize that I have to be able to ride a good classification in stage tours to win a stage in the big tours,” Gretsch said. “And I would like to contribute to be able to make the sprint train of my new team into a powerful weapon.”

  • Cunego and Saronni summoned by Italian anti-doping investigators

    Damiano Cunego is satisfied with his performance in this year's Tour de France.
    Article published:
    August 2, 2011, 16:44
    By:
    Cycling News

    Police investigation in Mantova sparks more questions

    The Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) has summoned Lampre-ISD team leader Damiano Cunego and team manager Giuseppe Saronni for questioning as they continue to investigate alleged doping offences after as a consequence of the police investigation centred on a Mantova pharmacy.

    Cunego, who recently finished seventh overall and was the best-placed Italian rider at the Tour de France, has been summoned for 11:00am on September 7. Saronni has been scheduled for questioning an hour later. Former directeur sportif Fabrizio Bontempi has been summoned for September 5, along with Dr Fiorenzo Egeo Bonazzi, who has been linked to an alleged attempted blood transfusion by Alessandro Ballan. He rode for Lampre in 2009 but now rides for the BMC team.

    Former Lampre rider Pietro Caucchioli, who was suspended after being snared by the UCI’s biological passport programme in 2009, has also been summoned for September 6.

    The Mantova police investigation is centred around pharmacist Guido Nigrelli, whom many Lampre riders were ordered to visit for testing. The riders and Nigrelli have denied any wrong doing, with Nigrelli insisting that he only supplied legal medicines to Lampre team at discount prices. However, the police investigation is centred on the sale and use of prohibited substances including EPO, ephedrine, testosterone and cortico-steroids. Police used phone taps and tailed people as part of the investigation, discovering that those involved used code words such as ‘lollypop’, ‘egg’, ‘topo gigio’ and ‘culatello’ to describe the products they were using.

    Ballan and current BMC teammate Mauro Santambrogio were caught up in the investigation and have twice been suspended but then allowed to race by the BMC team. Ballan crashed out of the Tour of Poland near the end of stage two.

  • Romain Sicard suffering muscular problems

    Under-23 World Champion Romain Sicard (Euskaltel-Euskadi)
    Article published:
    August 2, 2011, 17:33
    By:
    Pierre Carrey

    Euskaltel-Euskadi rider to skip Vuelta a Espana

    Frenchman Roman Sicard has been out of competition since the Tour of Catalonia at the end of March, and it is unknown when he will get back to racing for his Euskaltel-Euskadi team. He has been suffering from weakness in one leg which he and the team's staff have been unable to diagnose. His main goal of the season had been the Vuelta a Espana, but now the aim is to simply race.

    "Our goal is for him to race before the end of the season," his coach Josu Larrazabal told Cyclingnews. "It's possible to do it, as he feels  better now than a few weeks ago."

    The winner of the Under-23 World Championship and Tour de l'Avenir in 2009 came to the Basque team in 2010 with huge promise, but the 23-year-old French-Basque has struggled since February with a strange feeling on his bike: his right leg was weaker than the left one. "Something was wrong in his movements," Larrazabal explained. "First the rider suspected it came from a mistake in the position of his new shoes cleats, but the reason for the problem remain unexplained."

    The weakness caused a chain-reaction: the leg which didn't work correctly lost muscular mass and the imbalance threw off his hip alignment. Euskaltel's medical staff feared that Sicard might be suffering a kink in his iliac artery, but medical tests taken on Monday in Oviedo, Spain, revealed a normal blood pressure.

    Sicard decided to spend two months in Bilbao, near the headquarters of his team, to focus on physiotherapy. He only went home on the weekend. In the last two weeks he has succeeded in getting back on his bike, and last week he trained two hours a day.

    Euskaltel's young rider still follows races on television but he understandably switches off his mobile phone and doesn't reply to emails so often.

    His entourage admires his strong determination in his fight to come back. "As he decided to be discreet, I don't want to speak for him," his teammate Pierre Cazaux told Cyclingnews. "But I'm really impressed by his motivation in such a bad time".

    "In everything he does, you can see Romain is a world champion," added his coach.

  • Velits brothers join Quick Step through 2013

    Brothers Peter and Martin Velits (HTC-Highroad) are here to offer support for this week's mountain stages.
    Article published:
    August 2, 2011, 18:39
    By:
    Cycling News

    Vendenbergh also signed by Belgian 'superteam'

    Newly bolstered by its association with Omega Pharma, the Quick Step Cycling Team has announced the signing of three new riders through the 2013 season: Stijn Vandenbergh, currently racing for Katusha, and the Slovakian twins Martin and Peter Velits.

    The Velits brothers will exit the HTC-Highroad programme of Bob Stapleton, which has yet to announce a sponsor for the coming season. Peter Velits, third overall in the 2010 Vuelta a España, will give the team a Grand Tour contender for the coming years.

    "Peter stood out to us for the good end-of-season he had last year, which saw him winning a stage and third place in the GC in the Vuelta España and for the good performance at the recent Tour de France," said Quick Step team manager Patrick Lefevere. "He's a complete rider, with him the team is gaining an athlete who can potentially make it to the podium in the Grands Tours.

    "Martin is an athlete who's already proven his worth in the young categories and in his first seasons as a pro. We're counting on him a lot, since we consider him an athlete who can improve even further.

    "Stijn is a worthy athlete, a specialist in the Classics and a team player," Lefevere said.

    The Velits brothers have always been on the same team. First with the Dukla Trencin in their first senior year and then with Konica Minolta, Wiesenhof-Felt, Milram and then Highroad.

    "I'm happy to become a part of such a prestigious team with great goals for the future," Peter Velits said. "It's doubly satisfying if I think that I can continue riding side by side with my brother Martin. My objective is to continue growing gradually and repay the trust that the team has placed in me."

  • Dutch magazine spats with Van Heeswijk over doping allegations

    Max van Heeswijk (Discovery Channel) on the podium
    Article published:
    August 2, 2011, 20:12
    By:
    Cycling News

    Former US Postal rider recants comments

    Former US Postal rider Max Van Heeswijk has come into conflict with the Dutch magazine NUSport over a story published this week. In the interview which was carried out by journalist Nando Boers in June, the former professional talked extensively about his years with the team of Lance Armstrong and reportedly admits to using performance enhancing drugs.

    Van Heeswijk rode with the US Postal and Discovery Channel teams from 2003 to 2006, but was not a part of any of Armstrong's winning Tour de France squads. US Postal has been the subject of a federal investigation in the United States, which is examining alleged systematic doping in the squad.

    According to the magazine's website, nusport.nl, Van Heeswijk, after making comments on the use of performance enhancing drugs to Boers, requested that the statements be removed from the story. When the journalist refused, Van Heeswijk allegedly grabbed the tape out of the recorder and threw it into the trash.

    NUSport said it reported the tape as stolen to the police in Belgium, where Van Heeswijk lives, after trying and failing to get a response from the rider.

    Despite a last minute request from Van Heeswijk to retract the story, the magazine went ahead with its publication this week, but Van Heeswijk dismissed the article on Dutch television. "It's just tabloid journalism. I've always been a clean rider there was no talk of doping," he said on the Dutch channel L1. "I will definitely take a lawyer."

  • Movistar announces Vuelta a España pre-selection

    Vasili Kiryienka (Movistar Team) takes the second Giro stage of his career
    Article published:
    August 2, 2011, 21:07
    By:
    Cycling News

    Intxausti, Bruseghin and Kiryienka in the running for place on team

    Movistar has announced its pre-selection of twelve riders for the Vuelta a España, which gets underway in Benidorm on August 20.

    2010 stage winners Imanol Erviti and David Lopez are among the riders who should get the nod for the final nine-man squad. Beñat Intxausti will also be expected to be given the chance to make amends for his disappointing Tour de France debut with a strong showing in the Vuelta. The 25-year-old was forced to abandon the Tour on stage 8 after fracturing his right elbow in a fall during the opening week.

    Vasil Kiryienka is in contention for his third Grand Tour start of the year, although it remains to be seen how well he has recovered from his exertions earlier in the summer. The Belarus rider was an impressive solo winner of the Giro d’Italia’s penultimate stage at Sestriere and followed that up with overall victory in the Route du Sud in June. Kiryienka would pay for those efforts at the Tour de France, however, and he finished outside the time limit on stage 6.

    Marzio Bruseghin, who was left out of Movistar’s Giro d’Italia team following his implication in the Mantova-based doping investigation, is also included in the Vuelta pre-selection.

    Movistar has teams competing in the Tour de Pologne, the Vuelta a Burgos and the Eneco Tour over the coming 10 days, after which the final nine-man Vuelta a España line-up will be announced.

    Movistar pre-selection for Vuelta a España, August 20-September 11:

    Marzio Bruseghin, Imanol Erviti, Chente García Acosta, Beñat Intxausti, Vasil Kiryienka, Ignatas Konovalovas, Pablo Lastras, David López, Ángel Madrazo, Sergio Pardilla, Rubén Plaza and Branislau Samoilau.


     

  • Kenda/5-hour Energy perplexed over non-invite to Utah and Colorado

    Team Kenda at the front looking to set up Luca Damiani for the sprint
    Article published:
    August 2, 2011, 22:41
    By:
    Kirsten Frattini

    Gaimon, Milne and Damiani re-sign for 2012

    Chad Thompson is perplexed and disappointed that his UCI Continental team Kenda/5-hour Energy did not receive an invitation to either of the upcoming UCI 2.1 stage races in August: the Tour of Utah or USA Pro Cycling Challenge. On a more positive note, the team is in negotiations with two ProTeam riders and has re-signed Phil Gaimon, Shawn Milne and Luca Damiani.

    "We feel we deserved an invitation to both events, if not at least one," Thompson said. "We know the organizers are faced with tough decisions. The teams are, too. Without sponsors being happy, teams do not thrive. Without teams, the races do not thrive. It's a vicious circle, but a reality. Allowing two of the domestic teams to do all three and leave us out was not good for sponsors or the image of domestic cycling. It makes it look political instead of fair or deserved."

    Medalist Sports, managers of the two events, played a large role in determining team selections. Acquiring UCI 2.1 status meant that race organizers were permitted to invite ProTeams and Professional Continental teams, which left fewer spots available for Continental teams.

    Kenda/5-hour Energy is currently the 24th ranked team on the UCI America Tour, and the ninth-best North American team behind Spidertech, Chipotle, UnitedHealthcare, Realcyclist, Team Type 1, Jamis-Sutter Home, Bissell and Jelly Belly. It is the 12th placed team on the USA Cycling National Racing Calendar.

    Race organizers of the Tour of Utah announced invitations for 16 teams including five ProTeams, five Professional Continental teams along with Continental squads Bissell, Jamis-Sutter Home, Kelly Benefit Strategies-OptumHealth and RealCyclist.com from the USA and Endura Racing (UK), Gobernacion de Antoquia (Colombia) and PureBlack Racing (New Zealand).

    Race organizers of the USA Pro Cycling Challenge announced its final list of 17 teams with eight ProTeams, three Professional Continental teams and US Continental squads Bissell, Jelly Belly p/b Kenda and Team Exergy. Rabobank and EPM-UNE were also invited to replace development teams Chipotle Development and Trek-Livestrong.

    "We were honest with the organizers early on and said we would rather do Utah over Colorado, if we would be unable to do both," Thompson said. "Our team was told we would not get the invitation to Utah, and we were a bit perplexed. When you look at the invited teams, some of it just does not make sense. I will not mention names, but some teams don't even race here and have never been heard of. That is a slap in the face to a program such as ours that has been growing and made the sacrifices to hire men like Ben Day, Shawn Milne and Frankie Andreu.

    "We were told we did not get the invitation to Utah in order to 'spread out the invitations fairly'," he said. "We were disappointed, but understood and respected that reason. But when the list was made public, our sponsors were not happy, and we have to admit we were bummed about it too. As bad as it seemed, we thought Colorado would be assured. After receiving the first call about Colorado, we felt our chances were good. But, again the list came out and we were not on it."

    Kenda/5-hour Energy had good fortune this spring when it announced the signing of overall contender Ben Day, new sponsor 5-hour Energy and that it had received an invitation to America's marquee stage race at the UCI 2.HC-ranked Amgen Tour of California. The team was off to a respectable start with wins at the San Dimas Stage Race and Terrapin Athens Twilight Criterium, one top-10 stage finish at the Amgen Tour, a sixth place overall performance at the Tour de Beauce and a stage win at the Cascade Cycling Classic, all despite a series of illness and injury that affected members of the team.

    According to Thompson, the team was capable of much more and the riders were hoping for an opportunity to prove themselves at the Tour of Utah and USA Pro Cycling Challenge. "The answer is no, we are not happy with the year thus far," Thompson said. "We know we are much better than the results and invitations show. Obviously, with a GC hitter like Ben Day, everyone expects podiums or bust. We are no different and neither is he. So, we are frustrated and a bit disappointed."

    The team will finish out the season at UCI events that include the Tour of Elk Grove, Vuelta Mexico, Taiwan Cup and possible the Herald Sun Tour. The team is currently expecting to announce a new co-title sponsor to join Kenda and help their bid for a UCI Continental license for 2012, with a view to an upgrade to Professional Continental status in 2013. 5-Hour energy will no longer be a co-sponsor but will remain a technical sponsor and still be heavily involved with the team.

    It is currently in the process of contract agreements for next season and has confirmed re-signing Gaimon, Milne, Damiani and Stemper though an agreement with Day is yet to be made. According to Thompson, he is also in negotiations with two new riders who currently race for ProTeams and confirmed signing Nate English for next year.

    "With the above additions, we will be unmistakably one of the best stage race teams on paper domestically," Thompson said. "It will be up to their legs to do the talking. Until then, we want to get our 2011 results to start rolling in, so we are committed to doing so."

  • Full Tour podium confirmed for USA Pro Cycling Challenge

    Cadel Evans (BMC) beat Andy and Frank Schleck to win the Tour de France.
    Article published:
    August 3, 2011, 00:40
    By:
    Cycling News

    Evans and Schleck brothers to race in Colorado

    Cadel Evans (BMC), Andy Schleck (Leopard-Trek) and Frank Schleck are all down to ride the USA Pro Cycling Challenge according to announcement released by the race organisation on Tuesday. The news means that the top-three of the Tour de France will all be riding in Colorado.

    Tom Danielson (Garmin-Cervelo) and Ivan Basso (Liquigas-Cannondale) have also been confirmed to ride, adding to one of the strongest fields to attend a US race.

    "The confirmed participation of the sport’s premiere athletes is a monumental achievement for the event in its first year," said Sean Petty, Chief Operating Officer for USA Cycling. "It shows the interest and intrigue in what will prove to be an epic battle through the Colorado Rockies."

    Shawn Hunter, co-chairman of the race organisation explained that the idea was always to set the bar high for the race’s debut later this month.

    "Our goal is to assemble one of the best competitive fields an American professional stage race has ever seen," said Hunter. "This is a great moment of truth for the sport in America and for our race. To have secured such an incredible lineup of teams along with the greatest riders in the world is a credit to what the owners have committed to do in the event’s inaugural year."

    The announcement sees Evans return to racing in the US after a four year exodus. Colorado will be Evans’s last race of the season, and the former world champion will be looking to cap off a stellar season in style.

    "I've heard good things about the race in Colorado and I know it won't be easy. But I'm up for one more challenge," said Evans.

    The USA Pro Cycling Challenge is set to begin on August 22 with a 8.2km prologue around Colorado Springs.