Team Liquigas-Cannondale is starting its second pre-season training camp today on the island of Sardinia, after having held its first team bonding meet in Passo San Pellegrino at the beginning of the month. All 28 riders, as well as directeurs sportifs Stefano Zanatta, Mario Scirea, Paolo Slongo and Alberto Volpi, have now gathered in a coastal resort in Olbia, Sardinia, for a camp that is scheduled to last until December 22.
The riders have been divided into two groups for more effective training. "Those who will start the season in January need to be in a better shape in order to compete in the first race without too much suffering and with the perspective of being competitive," explained Slongo.
"They will go out on longer rides and combine aerobic training with anaerobic phases. The second group, which includes those who will start in February, will instead pursue a more basic workout: less long rides and only aerobic training."
Riders of the first group are: Vincenzo Nibali, Elia Viviani, Stefano Agostini, Federico Canuti, Mauro Da Dalto, Tiziano Dall’Antonia, Timmy Duggan, Ted King, Kristijan Koren, Alan Marangoni, Moreno Moser, Daniele Ratto, Fabio Sabatini and Josè Sarmiento.
The second group includes Ivan Basso, Peter Sagan, Daniel Oss, Eros Capecchi, Valerio Agnoli, Maciej Bodnar, Damiano Caruso, Paolo Longo Borghini, Dominik Nerz, Maciej Paterski, Juraj Sagan, Cristiano Salerno, Sylwester Szmyd and Alessandro Vanotti.
On top of the daily training rides, the Liquigas riders will also strengthen their muscles in the gym followed by stretching and relaxation sessions under the guidance of mental coach Marino Rosti.
BMC hotshot aims for strong Paris-Nice and Tour of California
The paint is barely dry on his new BMC team bike but Tejay Van Garderen is already looking ahead to 2012 with his new team. The young American has pinpointed a number of targets for the year as he looks to assert himself as an GC contender in major stage races.
Paris-Nice, the Amgen Tour of California and the USA Pro Cycling Challenge are all on his race schedule but Van Garderen has also selected the Worlds and Olympic road race as events he’d like to participate and be competitive in.
“I have a rough outline of my goals and where I’d like to peak,” he told Cyclingnews. “I’d like to have a strong showing at Paris Nice, Tour of California, make the Tour team and then hopefully the Olympic road race team. Then I’d like to peak again for the USA Pro Cycling Challenge and then participate in the Worlds road race and team time trial.
“Paris-Nice, California and Colorado - they’re the races I’m hoping to shine in for GC.”
With such a strong armoury within the BMC ranks for 2012, the team will be competitive on a number of fronts but Van Garderen wasn't daunted by either the pressure or concerned that he may find his ambitions stifled. Instead, he saw the strong roster as a positive aspect and one that he will be able to utilise.
“You look at HTC where we had Geipel, Cavendish and Goss but somehow there was room for everyone. A lot of times I don’t think that guys like Gilbert, Hushovd and Evans will be doing the same races. So Thor and Gilbert like to do Tirreno and I’ll be going to Nice. Also I...
Belgian Pro Continental team negotiating to increase budget
Belgian Pro Continental team Accent Jobs-Verandas Willems are currently negotiating with its sponsors in order to increase its 2012 budget, in the hope of being able to sign more riders. This is good news to those riders who are still looking for a contract, such as the victims of recent team mergers or riders that have been left without a squad due to their sponsor pulling out.
The reason for the late roster extension is the team's racing programme. "We currently have a core of 16 men, but considering the programme we'll have next year, we'd like to have 20 riders," sports manager Jean-François Bourlart told La Dernière Heure. "We'll race in Belgium, France and the Netherlands, but also in Spain or Italy. But we have to do things well, and be certain to be able to pay these possible four last riders."
Team management is thus negotiating with an additional sponsor to obtain the budget needed for further signings. If the talks succeed, then Accent Jobs-Verandas Willems could become a last chance for a fair amount of riders still on the market. "But we're not particularly fond of becoming too international - we'd prefer Belgian riders. But we don't discard any possibility at this point," added Bourlart.
The riders that have been contacted by the team at the moment include Bert Scheirlinckx, winner of the 2011 GP Cerami, who would join his brother Staf if the deal comes through. British veteran Roger Hammond was also named as a possible addition.
Race organiser hopes for Grand Tour winner's presence despite pending CAS decision
The organisers of the Iberostar Challenge Ciclista Mallorca have announced that Saxo Bank's Alberto Contador has confirmed his participation in the 21st edition of the event in February next year. The winner of six Grand Tours is currently planning to take part in the five-day event on the Mediterranean island from Feburary 5-9, which will also see BMC's Cadel Evans as well as RadioShack's Andy and Fränk Schleck line up.
Contador and his Saxo Bank team are putting together the Spaniard's race programme without knowing whether he will be able to continue racing in 2012. Contador's fate should be announced in January, when the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) will issue its verdict on the rider's doping case. The 29-year-old was cleared of any wrongdoing by his national federation, but the UCI and WADA appealed the decision.
The Mallorca Challenge will thus see a total of 20 teams at the start, including ten World Tour teams: Saxo Bank, BMC, Radioshack, Katusha, Rabobank, Omega Pharma-QuickStep, Lotto-Belisol, Movistar, Euskaltel-Euskadi and Team Sky.
RadioShack-Nissan-Trek boss Johan Bruyneel says that it's possible
As head of the newly-formed RadioShack-Nissan-Trek team, one of Johan Bruyneel's biggest tasks next season will be to stop Alberto Contador sweeping all before him. The 29-year-old Spaniard has won six Grand Tours already in his career and is widely recognised as the best rider of his generation.
If the CAS verdict on his doping ban goes in his favour, there is little doubt that Contador will use 2012 as a stage on which to remind the world of his supreme talent and to write himself into the sports pages for the right reasons again. Bruyneel, who was Contador's directeur sportif at Discovery for his breakthrough Tour de France win in 2007, told Cyclingnews that if Contador is on form, he will be difficult to stop but that he is not unbeatable.
Mix of domestic and international teams to showcase sport's growth
The Amgen Tour of California is in the process of sending out invitations to prospective teams for 2012. The American stage race has already announced its host cities and race dates for next year and will confirm the final list of teams by the end of February.
The race is likely to be made of 16 teams, eight from the WorldTour and the remaining slots divided between the ProContinental and Continental ranks.
"In terms of what we're looking for, just like the route, we're aiming to raise the bar each year and make it more competitive," said race organiser Kristin Bachochin.
Although Bachochin would not confirm which teams were invited, she did add that QuickStep was "likely" to attend. The Belgian team was disappointed to miss out in 2011 but has signed three-time race winner Levi Leipheimer from RadioShack since then. The race starts close to his home in California.
However, Bachochin did state that the race was looking to grow, pointing to the new 2012 route as an example of the race's ambitions.
"Realistically we have the toughest course to date for 2012 and similar to that, we want the best possible athletes to race here, too. Were in the process of inviting our teams, and we should have that side of things finalised by the end of February," she said.
Last year, over half of the field came from US-registered teams, and although RadioShack is no longer listed in the US and HTC-Highroad is no more, Bachochin is confident that the cream of the US crop will attend, and she stressed the importance of showcasing up and coming talent as a...
Mathias Frank, winner of the mountains classification at the Tour de Suisse in 2010, will be Roe's replacement joining Alessandro Ballan, Adam Blythe, Marcus Burghardt, Martin Kohler, Manuel Quinziato, Greg Van Avermaet.
Roe said the pain he is feeling in his hip is an ongoing issue that flared up near the end of his first professional season. "It's probably due to my increased workload and how hard the racing was," Roe said.
"For sure, this is disappointing. I would have loved to have raced my home race, but I know how hard it is to get ready for the season and this will help make my body right."
BMC Racing Team Chief Medical Officer Dr. Max Testa said while Roe is still training and adjusting his position on the bike, holding him out of the six-stage race that starts January 17 is a precaution to prevent long-term damage.
"We will re-evaluate Tim this week, but we do expect him to be able to participate in training camp next month," Testa explained.