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First Edition Cycling News, Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Date published:
December 21, 2011, 0:00 GMT
  • Soler flown back to Colombia

    Soler's injuries could have killed him but he is flying home at last today
    Article published:
    December 20, 2011, 13:15 GMT
    Peter Cossins

    Six months on from Tour de Suisse crash Mauricio Soler heads home

    The Colombian Cycling Federation has revealed that Juan Mauricio Soler is flying back to his home country today (Tuesday), six months on from his life-threatening crash at the Tour of Switzerland. The Movistar rider is due to arrive in Bogotá this afternoon, when he will be transferred to the Clínica Teletón to continue the recuperation from head injuries suffered in that crash.

    Informed of Soler’s return to Colombia by his wife, Patricia Flores, the Colombian Cycling Federation’s subsequent statement on the 28-year-old Colombian said: “Soler’s recuperation at his home in Pamplona, Spain, is ahead of expectations. This is great news for the cycling family as 2011 comes to a close.”

    Soler, winner of the King of the Mountains title at the 2007 Tour de France, crashed on the sixth stage of Switzerland’s national tour in mid-June. He hit a curb and flew into a fence, suffering a severe head trauma and cerebral oedema, plus multiple fractures and bruising. He was placed in an induced coma to aid recovery. The following month he was flown to his Spanish base in Pamplona, where he spent four months in hospital before being allowed to return to his home there in October.

  • Vinokourov set for lead role at Tour de Langkawi

    Vinokourov is set to ride in Malaysia in February
    Article published:
    December 20, 2011, 14:06 GMT
    Cycling News

    Astana rider to return to where cycling career all began

    Kazakh rider Alexandre Vinokourov will be leading his Astana team at the 2012 Tour de Langkawi, a press release from the race organisers confirmed on Wednesday. The controversial 38-year-old has announced his intention to retire after the 2012 season and it is fitting that in his last year of racing he will be returning to the scene of his debut in 1997. Next year's race, a UCI 2.HC event, will take place in Malaysia from February 24 to March 4.

    "I've always wanted to do this race again but it was never on my team's calendar or appropriate for my race schedule," Vinokourov said. "Le Tour de Langkawi has a special place in my heart and I always knew that it is a very well organised race."

    Vinokourov's performance in 1997 as part of the Kazakh national team brought him to the attention of several scouts and was the spingboard to greater things. This coming January, a few weeks before the Tour, he is capitalising on his standing back home by running for election to the Kazakh parliament. The race administrators are clearly very pleased at the prospect of having such a big name involved.

    "It's a great honour for us to welcome Vinokourov back to Malaysia," said the event's COO Emir Abdul Jalal. "We wish him to come as a rider, team captain and Member of Parliament. We are very happy that Astana is sending its riders to Malaysia."

  • Petacchi focused on Tour de France green jersey in 2012

    Petacchi is interviewed
    Article published:
    December 20, 2011, 15:02 GMT
    Cycling News

    Italian likely to skip Giro d'Italia

    Alessandro Petacchi (Lampre-ISD) will target the points classification at the 2012 Tour de France and has admitted that he is likely to forgo the Giro d’Italia in order to reach July at the top of his form.

    With Lampre’s Giro squad likely to be built around Michele Scarponi’s overall aspirations, Petacchi is set to miss the corsa rosa to prepare for a tilt at regaining the green jersey he won in 2010.

    “We have the rider who finished second in the Giro in 2011 and so the team should be all for him,” Petacchi told Gazzetta dello Sport. “If I skip the Giro, I can do the Tour of Belgium. Then I will do Suisse in order to get to the Tour in peak condition, the kind I normally had in Italy. The aim is to win the green jersey again.”

    In a new departure, Petacchi will begin his season at the Tour Down Under and he will travel to Australia early in order to get in some warm-weather training miles. On his return from the Antipodes, he will ride the GP Costa degli Etruschi, the Giro di Sardegna and Tirreno-Adriatico as build-up to Milan-San Remo. “I’ve never raced so early,” he said. “I’m leaving on January 4, so before racing I’ll be able to train for ten days. I’ll arrive at Down Under fairly prepared.”

    Petacchi’s winter preparation up to now has seen him intersperse his training rides with a series of gym work in a bid to regain the power he feels was lacking at times in 2011. “I’ve used weights to do pure strength and resistance work,” he said. “I wanted to rebuild the muscles of my legs because I had slimmed down excessively, partly because of having raced too much.”

    While the fruits of his labour...

  • Horner begins 2012 preparations early

    Chris Horner (RadioShack)
    Article published:
    December 20, 2011, 16:59 GMT
    Barry Ryan

    American keen to return to action after Tour de France crash

    Chris Horner (RadioShack-Nissan) has begun training a month earlier than usual as he prepares to make his return to competitive action following his heavy fall at the 2011 Tour de France.

    The American suffered a broken nose, cracked ribs, concussion and a blood clot in the lung as a result of his crash on stage 7 of the Tour, and was forced to bring both his race and his season to a premature halt. After five months, Horner is keen to get back into action.

    “Normally I wouldn’t even be riding now,” Horner told Cyclingnews. “Normally two hours in a day is the very most I’d have done in early December. Then I’d take the last three weeks of December off and start riding the home trainer while I’m up in Oregon for a week, and then I’d go up to San Diego the second week of January on the road, and then we’d normally have training camp near the end of January.”

    This time around, however, Horner has been out on the road since the beginning of December, and made the most of RadioShack-Nissan’s recent training camp in Calpe, Spain to get in some warm-weather miles.

    “This year, I started on the first of December and I’ll continue all the way through to the next training camp,” he said. “Basically my training for next year started the first of December rather than the first of January.”

    Last winter, RadioShack’s American riders were not requested to cross the Atlantic for the team’s pre-Christmas training camp. The merger with Leopard Trek meant that Horner was happy to make the trek on this occasion.

    “Normally I don’t believe so much in December training camps, but...

  • Lars Bak wins Danish rider of the year

    Cancellara and Lars Bak on the last lap of the velodrome
    Article published:
    December 20, 2011, 19:23 GMT
    Cycling News

    Beats Fuglsang to the award

    The Danish Cycling Union (DCU) has voted Lars Bak as their rider over the year, it was announced Tuesday at a press conference in Copenhagen.

    Bak won from a list of five nominated riders, and was the 36th rider to pick up the accolade. After two seasons with HTC-Highroad, Bak will move to Lotto-Belisol in 2012 where he will form part of their Classics and Grand Tour line-up.

    The 31-year-old had a solid season, picking up 5th in Paris-Roubaix and riding both the Tour de France and Giro d’Italia, where he formed part of HTC-Highroad’s winning ride in the opening team time trial.

    "I'm a little surprised but very happy to be here,” Bak told

    “The title of the names that are on, it's the biggest title in Denmark, so it is great to have my name on the list.”

    Bak beat Jakob Fuglsang, Annika Langvad, Mads Würtz Schmidt and Rasmus Quaade for the prize.


  • Tuft: I finally started learning how to race in Belgium

    Canadian time trial champion Svein Tuft (Team Spidertech Powered By C10) stopped the clock for 4th place.
    Article published:
    December 20, 2011, 21:29 GMT
    Jane Aubrey

    Canadian on 12 months of risk and return

    Svein Tuft knew there was an element of risk involved in signing with then-UCI WorldTour-hopefuls GreenEdge but despite having been burnt less than 12 months earlier in the demise of Pegasus Sport, it was a risk the Canadian was more than willing to take.

    Back in Australia, and what feels like a lifetime away from the now-infamous Pegasus training camp in Noosa, Tuft was assured by the fact that GreenEdge had been successful where their Australian-predecessors had not, and was genuinely excited by what lies ahead.

    "I tell you, being here has just been a treat. The whole time, the organisation has just been dialled-in and top-notch and just a whole other ball game with these guys," Tuft told Cyclingnews in Melbourne, his immediate future secured with confirmation that GreenEdge had received a WorldTour license.

    "The thing was, I knew that coming in were a lot of the people I've worked with before and I know how they operate. It's always 100 percent professional and that was my expectation so things like the WorldTour license and everything else, it's always something in cycling until they get the deal on the dotted line and until the exact date you never really know but these guys, I had a lot of confidence."

    Now aged 34, Tuft is facing the twilight of his career having started racing competitively 12 years ago, so time is of the essence. It's a factor that played a huge role in him jumping ship from first-year Canadian Pro Continental outfit Spidertech where he found refuge in the wake of the Pegasus collapse – but it certainly was no easy decision.

    "In a team like Spidertech it was all friends and like a whole other family for me as well so that made it a really difficult decision and I don't think that it was one that anyone was too happy about making, but that's how it goes," he said.

    Reality has a habit of being harsh beast and Tuft's was...

  • O'Grady chasing second national road title

    Aussie Stuart O'Grady happy on the start line.
    Article published:
    December 20, 2011, 23:45 GMT
    Cycling News

    GreenEdge elder statesman training hard

    As just one of a 17-strong GreenEdge line up in the elite men’s road race at the Mars Cycling Australia Road National Championships mid next month in Ballarat, Stuart O’Grady is giving himself a real shot of winning a green and gold jersey for the second time in his prestigious career.

    O’Grady won the title in 2003, aged 29, in aggressive style from GreenEdge teammate Allan Davis and the now-retired Pat Jonker in a hard-fought sprint to the finish.

    In 2012 and in their first season in the UCI WorldTour, GreenEdge has been vocal in regards to their ambition to have the green and gold bands on one of their shoulders with the team’s general manager Shayne Bannan admitted it would be “disappointing” should the team fail to come away with the win.

    “It would be a bloody proud moment to wear the green and gold colours again,” O’Grady said. “It’s been a long time since I had the honour of wearing the Australian jersey in the big European races and I’m sure I would do it justice again.

    “It was a really special victory for me when I won the title in 2003.”

    The form honed on the recent two-week GreenEdge training camp in Canberra and Melbourne might be the difference for O’Grady in 2012, a position he hasn’t been fortunate enough to find himself in over recent seasons. Reports suggest that O’Grady’s hard work has continued now he’s home in Adelaide, training up to five hours daily in the renowned Willunga Hill area.

    “I have not done it much because I have not had...

  • Champion System and Giant-Kenda to race Tours of Qatar, Oman

    The bunch on the wide roads at ASO's Tour of Qatar - the beginning of the professional elite season.
    Article published:
    December 21, 2011, 2:00 GMT
    Cycling News

    Entry exemption granted by ASO

    Two of the highest ranked races on the UCI Asia Tour calendar, the Tour of Qatar and Tour of Oman have invited the regions first UCI Professional Continental outfit, Champion System along with Giant-Kenda to compete alongside WorldTour teams in February.

    Both teams have been granted a special exemption to participate in the 2.HC events through the ASO.

    Highly ambitious continental team Giant-Kenda will kick off their season at the Tour de India in late January before a busy February with Oman, Qatar and then Le Tour de Langkawi.

    Champion System are one of 22 teams registered at a UCI ProConti level for 2012 and much like Giant-Kenda have the goal of making the Tour de France in 2016.