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First Edition Cycling News, Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Date published:
December 16, 2009, 0:00 GMT
  • New name for Frankfurt's May Day race

    German Champion Fabian Wegmann (Milram) wins on home soil at the Eschborn-Frankfurt City Loop.
    Article published:
    December 15, 2009, 12:00 GMT
    Susan Westemeyer

    Rund um den Finanzplatz to race from Eschborn to the heart of Frankfurt

    The German race formerly known as Rund um den Henninger Turm will once again have a new name and a new course in 2010. The event, traditionally held on May 1, will next year be called Rund um den Finanzplatz and run from Eschborn to downtown Frankfurt.

    For 47 years the race was known as Rund um den Henninger Turm. After the Henninger beer company withdrew from sponsorship, the race was run in 2009 under the name Eschborn-Frankfurt City Loop.

    The race will start in Eschborn and run to downtown Frankfurt. After multiple laps of a four kilometre-long circuit, the finish line will be in the heart of the city, at the Frankfurt Opera House.

    According to Frankfurt's sport department head Markus Frank, “it was totally clear the the race must come back to the heart of the city.” He explained the race's new name [translated into english as "All around the financial district" - ed.] as representing both the start and finish cities. “Eschborn and Frankfurt are bound together in the financially strong Region Frankfurt RheinMain.”

    Race organiser Bernd Moos-Achenbach said that he has already received agreements from many teams and riders to appear on May 1, and that preparations for the race are going full speed ahead. “I am counting on the offer from the city of Frankfurt to help with the infrastructure." he said.

    The 2009 Eschborn-Frankfurt City Loop was won by Milram's Fabian Wegmann.

  • Cooke looks to Sky to help team survive

    Cooke in happier times in 2008
    Article published:
    December 15, 2009, 13:08 GMT
    Susan Westemeyer

    Whole team pitches in to find a new sponsor

    The riders of Equipe Nürnberger Versicherung are doing all they can to ensure the future of the team, with newcomer Nicole Cooke leading the way. The Olympic champion has established contact with Sky , to see if they are interested in sponsoring the women's team.

    Nürnberger Versicherung, an insurance company, announced over the summer that it would stop its sponsorship after 10 years. Shortly thereafter the team said that Skyter Shipping would take over as name sponsor. Skyter GmbH is a Bavarian-based yacht leasing firm, which then announced earlier this month that it must withdraw from the sponsoring contract, leaving the team's future in doubt.

    Cooke has been in contact with Dave Brailsford, manager of the new ProTour Team Sky, with whom she has worked while riding for the British national team. Cooke, who only signed to ride for the team in October, told the Nürnberger Zeitung, “I hope we can work this out somehow. I absolutely want to ride and win races for this team.”

    Team manager Herbert Oppelt said that Cooke's efforts were not the only ones made. “The girls are using all their contacts and we talk on the phone every day,” he said.

    Oppelt, 60, is of course, also hard at work. “We are working here like animals,” he told the Nürnberger Nachrichten.

    It has also been disclosed that the Nürnberger-Fürth prosecutors are investigating Skyter business director Michael Lindemann, the team's contact at the firm, for possible fraud, and have been for a long period of time.

  • Valverde's focus firmly on 2010 Tour

    Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne) was one of the stars of the show.
    Article published:
    December 15, 2009, 14:30 GMT
    Antonio J. Salmerón and Richard Tyler

    Spaniard announces race programme for Tour lead up, dates set for CAS hearings

    After being excluded from this year's edition of the Tour de France, Caisse d'Epargne's Alejandro Valverde yesterday announced his race programme that focuses on preparation for an expected return to the Tour on July 3, 2010.

    In addition, the Court of Arbitration for Sport announced that it had set the dates for hearings on two separate doping-related cases involving Valverde, one in January and one in March.

    The 29-year-old Spaniard has become the latest in a growing list of Grand Tour contenders who will commence their 2010 season at the Tour Down Under. Valverde announced that his season will be focused around the French Grand Tour and will have the opportunity to size up likely Tour rivals Lance Armstrong (RadioShack) and Cadel Evans (BMC Racing Team) in Adelaide (January 17-24).

    The ProTour race will be the start of a race programme that also includes Paris-Nice (March 7-14), Volta a Catalunya (March 22-28), Amstel Gold Race (April 18), Flèche Wallonne (April 21) and Liège-Bastogne-Liège (April 25). Valverde will then take a short break before he returns to defend his 2008 Dauphiné Libéré title, Jun 6-13. His final competitive effort prior the Tour will be the Spanish national Championships.

    The winner of this year's Vuelta a España anticipates a tough Tour next season and said he expects Alberto Contador (Astana) to be the biggest hurdle come July, where he will hope to find a chink in his compatriot's armour.

    "[Beating Contador] will be complicated," he said at Caisse d'Epargne's first team meeting this week in Navarra, Spain. "Contador could falter at any moment; we'll need to stay strong throughout the race if we are to exploit that moment."

    Despite the departure of key domestiques, including Daniel Moreno (to Silence-Lotto), Oscar Pereiro (to Astana) and Joaquin Rodriguez (to Katusha), Valverde is confident that he will have a strong squad for the Tour....

  • Gripper: We're winning the war on doping

    Anne Gripper, the UCI's anti-doping manager
    Article published:
    December 15, 2009, 17:02 GMT
    Daniel Benson

    UCI anti-doping head encouraged by outcomes of biological passport conference

    Anne Gripper has declared that the war on doping is being won. The head of the International Cycling Union's (UCI) Anti-Doping Department, Gripper's assessment came after last week’s meeting of an independent scientific expert panel to discuss possible anti-doping rule violations under the biological passport programme. The World Anti-doping Agency (WADA) and the UCI Anti-Doping Commission were also invited and present at the conference.

    Last week’s meeting focussed on a number of issues along with a new batch of riders that had been identified during the weekly process of review that is undertaken of passport data. It’s not known how many profiles were looked at or how many of those anonymous riders will face a doping violation, but for Gripper the meeting marked another step in the fight against doping. Those attending included six of the nine UCI anti-doping experts (the remainder were brought in via email and phone).

    "While the [biological] passport is still in its early stages, we think it’s beneficial for the experts to come together to discuss the profiles in more detail. They came up with a range of recommendations on those profiles we looked at," said Gripper.

    "All the cases came to our attention since the meeting in Geneva in June. The period of doping, if there was one, may have commenced before that."

    Another development has been the ratification of WADA’s athlete biological passport guidelines. This means that the UCI now have concrete guidelines, rather than the draft versions they’ve been following since the passport programme’s birth in 2008. Part of these guidelines means the UCI must give a rider who returns an abnormal blood profile a set period of time to provide their account or explanation of the abnormal profile before a case is opened. Therefore, there will now be a time period in which the rider is aware that their profile is under scrutiny, without the knowledge...

  • Valverde to ride Tour Down Under

    Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne) savors his time in the golden jersey.
    Article published:
    December 15, 2009, 23:53 GMT
    Cycling News

    Spanish star heads to Australia with strong Caisse contingent

    Australian cycling fans will be treated to another star appearance when Caisse d'Epargne's Alejandro Valverde rides the Santos Tour Down Under next January.

    With the return of Lance Armstrong and the appearance of road race world champion Cadel Evans, the addition of Valverde to the startlist further increases the quality of the field and the anticipation for the year's first ProTour event.

    This year's Vuelta a España winner will ride alongside 2005 Tour Down Under champion and Tour de France stage winner Luis Leon Sánchez, with Jose Rojas again making the trip to Australia to contest the fast finishes. Led by team manager Neil Stephens, the squad stands a good chance of clinching the title.

    Rojas will be a major threat to the overall favourites, keeping the likes of Allan Davis, Robbie McEwen and Graeme Brown honest in their fight for the ochre leader's jersey. "There are a lot of riders in this Caisse d'Epargne team who could do well at our race in January. [Jose] Rojas was impressive here in 2009, winning the Cycle Instead Young Rider Jersey and finishing third in the GC. Rojas will certainly be one to watch in 2010," said race director Mike Turtur.

    It's likely Valverde will garner the most attention however, the Ardennes Classics star looking to gain some early-season form ahead of another campaign in southern Belgium next April.

    "Caisse d'Epargne is bringing an impressively strong team with them to Adelaide. With the likes of Valverde, Sánchez and Gutierrez it’s got the calibre of a Grand Tour team," added Turtur. "There will now be three Grand Tour winners competing at the Santos Tour Down Under - Valverde, Pereiro and Armstrong."

    Caisse d'Epargne's Santos Tour Down Under lineup: Alejandro Valverde (Spa), Luis Leon Sanchez (Spa), Jose Rojas (Spa), Ivan Gutierrez (Spa), Jose Garcia (Spa), Mathieu Drujon (Fra), Mathieu Perget (Fra).

  • Backstedt's back with Sprocket Procycling

    Magnus Backstedt at the Tour of the Pyrenees chatting with the riders
    Article published:
    December 16, 2009, 4:57 GMT
    Cycling News

    Swedish outfit adds new names to its roster for 2010

    Former professional rider Magnus Backstedt has maintained his involvement in team management with Continental squad Sprocket Procycling, a continuation of his Team - Magnus Maximus outfit that began life at the start of 2009.

    "When I retired I wanted to create something good for riders who are outside of the fringes of the traditional cycling countries. Scandinavian riders are very much in demand now, you only have to look at Team Sky for confirmation of that," said Backstedt.

    "I want to take everything I learned in 13 years as a professional rider and pass it onto these young guys. Our mission is to ride the Tour de France by 2015, the riders we have now should all be the right age by then," he added.

    Magnus Maximus Coffee will remain a sponsor of the team, although the team is named after Sprocket Promotions, the public relations and sports management company established by Backstedt and Martin McCrossan five years ago.

    Returning riders from the Magnus Maximus team of 2009 are Swedish national time trial champion Alex Wetterhall, Niklas Gustavsson, Filip Rudenstam and Freddy Johansson. They will be joined by an exciting and energetic young Swede, Richard Larsen.

    Australian rider Jack Anderson was recently added to the team's roster and will ride alongside fellow English-speakers Russell Hampton and Joe Perrett. After leaving the Great Britain Academy in the summer of 2009 Hampton took up the offer the join the Swedish team for the back end of this season.

    "Russell has a wealth of experience and is a special talent. His uniqueness maybe wasn't embraced on the GB Academy, but that is something we celebrate here and we see Russell very much as a leader figure within the team," said Backstedt.

    Sprocket Procycling's 2010 roster: Jack Anderson (Aus), Russell Hampton (GBr), Joe Perrett (GBr), Niklas Gustavsson (Swe), Freddy Johansson (Swe), Richard Larsen (Swe), Filip...

  • Tour of California announce cyclo-sportif events

    The 2010 Tour of California route.
    Article published:
    December 16, 2009, 7:01 GMT
    Cycling News

    Two 'Breakaway from Cancer' rides to take place in April

    The Amgen Tour of California has announced two cyclo-sportif rides to be held in conjunction with next year's race, in order to raise funds and awareness for Amgen's Breakaway from Cancer initiative.

    The two 'Breakaway Rides presented by Specialized', will see up to 7,000 amateur cyclists tackle the second and eighth stages of the 2010 race, a month before the professional peloton. Designed to cater to a range of abilities, participants will be given the opportunity to cover a range of routes that extend up to the full stage distances.

    "We are happy to provide amateur cyclists with an opportunity to ride the same route as the pros and to be able to compare their times to the greatest cyclists in the world," said Andrew Messick, president of race organiser AEG Sports. "We are expecting that these rides will expose cyclists to the beauty and challenges that our professional athletes will face."

    Each ride will be limited to a maximum of 3,500 participants, with a proportion each rider's entry fee will be donated to the initiative's four charities: Prevent Cancer Foundation, Patient Advocate Foundation, Cancer Support Community and National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship.

    "The Breakaway Ride events will give cycling enthusiasts and community members an opportunity to experience the 2010 Amgen Tour route first hand and at the same time support The Breakaway from Cancer initiative, which raises awareness of a range of free services available to people affected by cancer," said Stuart Arbuckle, Vice-President and General Manager at Amgen Oncology. "Amgen and its non-profit Breakaway from Cancer partners applaud AEG and Specialized for their outstanding support of these events."

    Participants in the event will be encouraged to raise as much money as possible in the lead up the rides, with event sponsor, Specialized to provide a S-Works Tarmac or Roubaix bike to the top fundraisers at each event. Those donating to the event will...

  • Katusha kick off in Calpe

    Pavel Brutt (Katusha) pulls on his neck warmer prior to a training ride in Calpe, Spain.
    Article published:
    December 16, 2009, 9:39 GMT
    Cycling News

    Russian team commence new season with Spanish training camp

    Katusha have joined the southern migration of professional cycling teams to the Mediterranean for their first pre-season training camp in Calpe, Spain.

    The team have assembled for the traditional schedule of training rides and equipment fittings. Riders have also had the opportunity to get to know new teammates, including Kim Kirchen (from Columbia-HTC), Joaquin Rodriguez (from Caisse d'Epargne) and Eduard Vorganov (from Xacobeo Galicia).

    Most of the team's 2010 squad are in attendance at the camp with the exception of Robbie McEwan, Lazlo Bodrogi and Evgeni Petrov. McEwen will remain in Australia until next year, Bodrogi is having remove pins from an injuries suffered at the 2008 Deutschland Tour and Petrov is expecting the birth of his first child

    Despite the location on Spain's eastern seaboard, the riders have still rugged up against the winter conditions. The camp began on Friday and will last until next Monday.