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First Edition Cycling News, Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Date published:
August 31, 2011, 1:00 BST
  • Froome hopes to keep Vuelta lead as long as possible

    New race leader Chris Froome (Sky)
    Article published:
    August 30, 2011, 20:40 BST
    By:
    Cycling News

    Sky rider reveals his fight to overcome the Bilharzia virus

    Chris Froome (Team Sky) has described taking the race leader’s red jersey at the Vuelta a Espana as a milestone in his career and has promised to defend the jersey for as long as possible.

    Speaking during the first rest of the Vuelta in northwest Spain, Froome explained that he has learned to be more consistent during his time at Team Sky and is back to his best after overcoming bilharzia (schistosomiasis), a disease caused by parasitic worms.

    “My position at the Vuelta is a big milestone in my career. Taking the lead and all the messages of congratulations I’ve received in the last 24 hours has been overwhelming but definitely worth all the hard work," he said. "Before I was too impulsive but now I’m able to express myself properly at the level I’ve always wanted to be.”

    The ever friendly, but very determined Kenyan-born Briton finished second in the 47km time trial around Salamanca on Monday. He leads Jakob Fuglsang (Leopard Trek) by 12 seconds, with teammate Bradley Wiggins third at 20 seconds. The Vuelta heads into the mountains again on Tuesday with a summit finish at Estación de Montaña Manzaneda. However, Froome hopes to hold onto the race lead as far as possible, as a way of remembering Txema Gonzalez, the Team Sky soigneur who died during last year’s Vuelta after being struck by a bacterial infection.

    “We want to honour the red jersey with Txema in mind,” Froome said. “It would be fantastic if we could still lead the Vuelta in his home town of Vitoria in The Basque Country.”

    "I don’t want to set a date for passing the red jersey onto somebody else. I want to keep it as long as I can. But with Bradley, we have two cards to play. We haven’t...

  • Schoten works to make Scheldeprijs finish safer

    It was an unfortunate high speed crash for Tyler Farrar (Garmin - Cervelo)
    Article published:
    August 30, 2011, 21:26 BST
    By:
    Cycling News

    Improvements to road due for 2012 after two crash-marred editions

    Following this year's dramatic crash in the finale of the Scheldeprijs, the organisers of the race have teamed up with the city council in Schoten, Belgium to make the approach to the line on Churchilllaan safer.

    According to nieuwsblad.be, the race organisation consulted with teams and riders to find out what caused the massive crashes in this year's edition and in 2009, and it concluded that a bend with 250m to go, some uneven pavement and traffic islands were the main dangers in the stretch of road ahead of the finish line.

    This year, Wouter Weylandt and Tyler Farrar collided after Weylandt lost control on the uneven surface, with both riders hitting the deck ahead of the fast-charging peloton. The crash also took out Sjef De Wilde (Veranda's Willems), who fractured two vertebrae after going through the crowd barriers.

    In 2009 it was Tom Boonen, Robbie McEwen and Greg Van Avermaet who went down in the bend 250m ahead of the line.

    With the 100th edition looming, and a competing bid from Antwerp to host the finish, Schoten agreed to changes to the street which removes some of the traffic island and adds a new layer of asphalt to even out the surface.

    The town also gets a new bicycle lane in the stretch of Churchillaan, which is due to be opened on September 1.

    The 100th Scheldeprijs will start in Antwerp and finish in Schoten on Wednesday, April 4, 2012.

  • Creed ends season with broken collarbone

    Michael Creed gives a big grin one of the teams action photos.
    Article published:
    August 31, 2011, 1:47 BST
    By:
    Cycling News

    American's future still undecided

    Michael Creed (Kelly Benefit Strategies - OptumHealth) season has come to a premature end after the American crashed out of Schaal Sels with a broken left collar bone. Despite the setback Creed is already in discussions to renew his one-year deal with Kelly Benefit Strategies - OptumHealth.

    "I just ran out of road and some came together in front of me," Creed told Cyclingnews.

    "That's just bike racing. I had attacked with another guy at the start and we had 1:30 and I had spent the first 40 or 50km off the front of the race. It's crazy because one minute you're riding along and then the next minute you're lying in an ambulance."

    Creed will bypass surgery and allow the bone to heal naturally and plans to remain in Europe with the team until they finish their planned schedule of European races, but the most important step in his career is around the corner with a decision on whether to continue racing needed within the coming weeks.

    After three poor years in which he failed to settle with Rock Racing and Team Type 1, Creed looked at home with Kelly, fitting in with their mainly domestic schedule and linking up with a number of friends on the roster. Most importantly, sustained respite from back and hip injuries meant he was able to fulfil a solid racing programme for the first time in years.

    "It was pretty mediocre, results wise. For the last three years because of what's happened with teams I've just not had that much racing. I've done as much racing this year as I have in the last three years combined. I got a little flat towards the end but in the last few races things began to pick up. People always say it but I was feeling pretty good before I crashed. I was already off the front," he...

  • Crashes mar Tour of the Murray

    The peloton head down the home straight with a lap to go.
    Article published:
    August 31, 2011, 3:18 BST
    By:
    Jane Aubrey & Alex Hinds

    Teams left questioning race versus reward

    Around 20 crashes involving close to 60 riders has so far dotted the opening six stages of the Tour of the Murray River with several teams raising their concerns over race conditions however, Tour Director John Craven doesn't believe that the format of the event is forcing the peloton to take unnecessary risks.

    In an interview with Cyclingnews, Craven was at a loss to explain the high amount of crashes that have occurred since Sunday when the event began, pointing out that there had been no significant changes to the course structure where a criterium and a short road stage takes place most days.

    "One of our goals and I think we do it well, we teach the riders to race and race aggressively so that when they go to Europe and America, they can step straight into the scene over there without having to learn," he explained.

    Craven, owner of Caribou Publications which runs the four tour Scody Cup, which is part of Cycling Australia's National Road Series, claimed that post race in Rochester, "was like a bomb had been through the place – there were wounded riders everywhere."

    The Tour of the Murray River is run over the dead flat farming plains of Victoria and is characterised by strong head winds which play a role in some of the incidents that occur. However, it was Tuesday's afternoon criterium that forced at least one team to question their position in the race.

    "I'm here with a group of six juniors and I've got Glenn O'Shea and Ed Bissaker who are track specialists and we're using this as preparation for the track," explained Tim Decker, director of the SASI Cycling Team. "I'm saying to them that it's not worth falling off and getting chopped. I want them to go for stage wins but not in these criteriums. I've told them not to get involved."

    Decker pointed to a lack of respect in the peloton which numbered...

  • Report: Leipheimer and Martin to Omega Pharma-Quickstep

    German time trial champion Tony Martin (HTC-Highroad) finished 9 seconds off the pace in 35th place.
    Article published:
    August 31, 2011, 6:19 BST
    By:
    Cycling News

    High profile duo would add crucial UCI points to Belgian team

    Levi Leipheimer (RadioShack) and Tony Martin (HTC-Highroad) have signed with the new Belgian outfit Omega Pharma-Quickstep for the 2012 season, according to a report on Het Nieuwsblad.

    The German has has won eight races this season including the time trial stages at both the Vuelta a Espana and the Tour de France, carries with him crucial UCI points, something that Quickstep are in short supply of. Leipheimer's main victory of the season came in June at the Tour de Suisse, where a storming final day time trial earned him the overall win over Damiano Cunego (Lampre-ISD).

    Martin had previously been linked to a number of teams including Garmin-Cervélo and Skil-Shimano, however as reported earlier on Cyclingnews they appear to have lost out to Quickstep in the race to sign the 26-year-old.

    HTC-Highroad riders have a clause in their contract that prohibits them making official announcements until September 1. Martin has thus neither confirmed nor denied the report.

    No official announcement has yet been made by Quickstep or Omega Pharma.

  • Dowsett eyes British time trial title

    Alex Dowsett wears his special blood red Oakleys in support of World Haemophilia Day
    Article published:
    August 31, 2011, 9:48 BST
    By:
    Daniel Benson

    Sky riders favoured to dominate in Cambridgeshire

    Alex Dowsett (Team Sky) will be looking to take his strong form into this weekend’s national time trial championships in Cambridgeshire, England. However, the former European under 23 time trial champion will face stiff competition from a host of names, including teammate  Steve Cummings.

    "We’re teammates and friends and I’m sure we’ll talk about it before the race. I’m not the type of person to shut off before a race. At the end of the day it’s important to keep the jersey within the team so from testing the course I’m sure we’ll share insight and opinion. It’s just going to come down to who is quicker on the day.”

    Dowsett has had a solid start to life in the pro ranks, bouncing back from an Achilles injury early this season to record his first professional win last week in the final stage of the Tour du Poitou-Charentes.

    During the French stage race, Dowsett finished fourth in the individual time trial, a result that would normally have pleased him. However, he believes that there is still more in the tank and that this weekend’s testing 29 mile course will bring the best out of him.

    “Going into the event I’m feeling pretty good. Coming off the back of my last race I’ve shown I’m going well. At the time trial there I would have liked to have been closer to the win, and while I’m not one to make excuses I just woke up and knew that the day was going to hurt a little more than usual. All things being equal though, I should be able to turn in a good ride.”

    Not having ridden the rolling Cambridgeshire course, the Essex born rider...

  • E3 Harelbeke to be WorldTour race in 2012

    A relaxed Fabian Cancellara has said he'll be heading for some junk food as soon as the race, and his spring, is over
    Article published:
    August 31, 2011, 10:28 BST
    By:
    Cycling News

    Belgian race to open cobbled Classics season

    The International Cycling Union (UCI) has announced that the E3 Prijs Vlaanderen-Harelbeke race has been promoted to WorldTour status for 2012 and will be held on the Friday preceding Gent-Wevelgem.

    The race covers many of the same climbs and country lanes as the Tour of Flanders and has often produced some great racing. However it has been recently overshadowed by Gent-Wevelgem, which moved to the Sunday before the Tour of Flanders and was given WorldTour status, attracting a better field as riders and teams chased UCI ranking points. Fabian Cancellara (Leopard Trek) won the race this year with a lone attack.

    The UCI has confirmed that E3 Prijs Vlaanderen-Harelbeke will be held on the Friday preceding the Gent-Wevelgem race and will open the season of Belgian Classics. The UCI officially unveils the 2012 race calendar during the world road race championships.

    The UCI Licence Commission - with the support of the UCI Professional Cycling Council - awarded a UCI WorldTour licence to the Belgian event for a period of four years (2012 – 2015).

    UCI President Pat McQuaid said in a press release: “The granting of this licence recognises the importance of this race in a region that has a strong cycling tradition. The Flanders region has a remarkable heritage and remains a landmark for cyclists around the world.”

    In its press release, the UCI claimed the awarding of a WorldTour licence to E3 Prijs Vlaanderen-Harelbeke “confirms its determination to ensure the durability of European cycling – in parallel with its commitment to the globalisation of cycling, which takes a step forward this season with the first edition of the Tour of Beijing – within the global development of the sport.”

    The

  • Fuglsang looking to limit losses in Vuelta mountains

    Jakob Fuglsang took sixth on the stage to move into second overall
    Article published:
    August 31, 2011, 12:51 BST
    By:
    Barry Ryan

    Dane and Monfort aim for top ten in Madrid

    A strong showing in the Salamanca time trial leaves Jakob Fuglsang (Leopard Trek) lying in second place overall as the Vuelta a España heads back into the mountains but the Dane has insisted that he is simply looking to limit his losses in the coming days.

    Fuglsang is just 12 seconds off the overall lead of Chris Froome (Team Sky) after a string of consistent performances in the opening ten days of the race, which included a day in the red jersey after Leopard Trek’s victory in the opening team time trial.

    “There is still a long way to Madrid. Some of the toughest mountain stages are still ahead, and I expect to lose time to the best climbers,” Fuglsang told Ekstra Bladet. “My goal is to minimise my loss of time. If I can lose just one minute on each of the four mountain finishes that are ahead of us, I’ll be satisfied.”

    With three summit finishes in the next five days, Fuglsang is aware that the general classification could be turned on its head by the second rest day. In spite of his current lofty position on GC, therefore, Fuglsang is refusing to revise his pre-race ambitions upwards.

    “The goal is still the top 10 and I have now put myself in a good position to achieve that goal,” he said.

    “I’m quite aware that I can lose half an hour as easy as anything, if I go badly. However, it will be bad luck if it happens, and I really hope luck is on my side in this race.”

    Monfort's Belgian revenge

    Fuglsang’s Leopard Trek teammate Maxime Monfort was another solid performer in Monday’s time trial, as he took out his frustrations at not being given one of...