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First Edition Cycling News, Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Date published:
December 23, 2009, 0:00 GMT
  • Astarloa faces retirement for lack of new team

    Igor Astarloa (Spain)
    Article published:
    December 22, 2009, 11:00 GMT
    By:
    Susan Westemeyer

    Former World Champion still under investigation in biological passport programme

    Former World Champion Igor Astarloa is on the verge of retiring at the age of 33. The Spaniard, who is under investigation for irregular blood values under the International Cycling Union's (UCI) biological passport programme, has been unable to find a team for the coming year.

    “I will most likely not continue next year,” he told biciciclismo.com. “I can say about 90 per cent that I will hang up my bike.”

    Astarloa turned pro in 2000 with Mercatone-Uno, and rode for Saeco, Cofidis, Lampre, Barloworld, Milram and Amica-Chips Knauf in his 10-year career.

    His biggest year was 2003, his second year with Saeco. That spring he won the Flèche Wallonne, as the first Spaniard to win a Spring Classic in 76 years. He followed it up with the surprise win in the World road Championships in Hamilton, Canada, in October that year.

    Astarloa signed with Cofidis the following season, but stayed with the French team only a few months. The team withdrew itself from competition on April 20, 2004, in order to deal with the doping controversy involving several of its riders. The Spaniard was allowed to leave the team, and he signed with Lampre for the remainder of the year.

    After two years with second-division Barloworld, Astarloa surprisingly returned to the top division with Team Milram in 2007. In his first year with the German team, he was only able to ride through until mid-June, when he had to stop due to a toxoplasmosis infection.

    Milram announced on May 29, 2008, that it had ended his contract with Astarloa due to irregular blood values. He denied any manipulation.

    He then signed with the division three team Amica Chips-Knauf for the 2009 season, but the team stopped due to financial reasons the end of May.

    Astarloa's string of bad news continued as he was named in June of this year for being one of the first five riders to be investigated under the UCI's...

  • Rapha Condor becomes Rapha Condor Sharp

    British champ Kristian House (Rapha Condor)
    Article published:
    December 22, 2009, 13:05 GMT
    By:
    Susan Westemeyer

    British Continental team add electronics producer as third name sponsor

    Rapha Condor will be known as Rapha Condor Sharp in the coming season. The British Continental team announced Tuesday that the electronics manufacturer has signed on as a name sponsor for 2010.

    A Japanese company, Sharp produces a range of electronic devices and appliances. It employs nearly 60,000 people worldwide.

    The relationship between Rapha Condor and Sharp first began working together late this season, at the Tours of Ireland and Britain. In addition to their sponsorship of the team during the 2010 season, the squad will in turn continue to provide exposure for Sharp's prostate cancer charity.

    Sharp UK Managing Director Paul Molyneux said, "Our partnership with Rapha Condor marks a turning point for Sharp as a brand in the UK and we are thrilled to be supporting the huge potential growth of British professional cycling. On behalf of Sharp, I'd like to wish the team the best of luck in achieving its goals for 2010 and beyond - we'll be right behind you."

    Grant Young, managing director of one of the team's other sponsors, Condor Cycles, noted that "With the additional support offered by Sharp we take another big step along the road to our ultimate goal of putting this team on the world stage.”

    The third name sponsor is Rapha, which produces cycling clothing and accessories. "Our commitment to the sport and particularly that of Condor who have stuck with road cycling through the really tough times has outlasted many others and now we're starting to recoup that investment as other brands want to be a part of what we've built. It's great to have Sharp on board."

    The new sponsor will make a big difference in more than the team's name, though. The small team had some major wins last season, including the national road title and the overall title in the FDB Insurance Ras. Team manager John Herety now has his eye on a strong performance at next year's Tour of Britain.

    "That is the area where I want...

  • Chris Anker Sørensen to captain Saxo Bank at Giro

    Chris Anker Sørensen (Saxo Bank)
    Article published:
    December 22, 2009, 13:30 GMT
    By:
    Richard Tyler

    Dane willing to skip Tour for strong performance in Italy

    Chris Anker Sørensen will lead Saxo Bank at next year's Giro d'Italia, the first major captaincy role of the Dane's five-year professional career. The 25-year-old told Danish website sporten.dk that he would forgo a second Tour de France appearance in order to maximise his chances of success in Italy.

    "I have always been prepared to support the ambitions of my teammates, but I will not be a supporting rider throughout my entire career; I have my own ambitions," said Sørensen.

    Sørensen finished 28th overall at his first and only Giro d'Italia appearance in 2008. This season, he raced the Tour de France for the first time, in support of teammate Andy Schleck. The latter finished second overall, while Sørensen finished 34th.

    This week, Sørensen was named by team manager Bjarne Riis in a ten-man short list for the 2010 Saxo Bank Tour de France team. Andy Schleck is once again expected to lead the squad at the Tour and while Sørensen said he looks forward to a return to the French race, he would only do so if fully recovered from the pursuit of his own objectives at the Giro.

    "I have no problem if the team would prefer me to sit out the Tour, or if I don’t have the strength at the time," he said. "I hope to race for my own chances at the Giro and then come to help [Andy and Fränk] Schleck make the podium in the Tour."

    Sørensen closed his 2009 season with victory at the Japan Cup, his first win of the season.
     

  • Peiper anticipates another strong year for Columbia-HTC, despite changes

    Columbia-HTC's Mark Cavendish and Bernhard Eisel, seen here at the team's first training camp, each think they have a shot at a road world championship in 2010.
    Article published:
    December 22, 2009, 15:08 GMT
    By:
    Shane Stokes

    Riders will check out worlds course in early January

    Despite the departure of several key riders such as Edvald Boasson Hagen, who took 13 individual wins in 2009, the Columbia-HTC team has its sights set on another very successful season in the year ahead. Sport director Allan Peiper says that he remains confident that the US-registered ProTour squad will take dozens of victories.

    “We didn’t think that we’d do as well this season as in 2008, but things worked out very well. We had 80 wins then, this year we had 85,” he told Cyclingnews.

    “At the end of last year we said that things wouldn’t get better than this; that if we win 50 races, we would be very happy. We are saying exactly the same again [for 2010]. If we can have Cavendish and Greipel step up and win 15 to 20 each, that is close to 40. If we can pick up another 10 wins from the rest of the riders, we are at 50 again.

    “That would be super – you have got to keep realistic aspirations. I mean, we had a one in three victory rate this year – we rode 255 races and we won 85. We took six stages in the Giro, six stages in Switzerland, six stages in the Tour and five in the Vuelta. That is how you really crank it up.”

    Teams such as the new Sky and RadioShack squads will be keen to start racking up some wins of their own and that could make things tighter at the top. Peiper insists that Columbia-HTC doesn’t feel under pressure to match the victory tally it achieved in the past two seasons; the changes within the team mean that some of the younger riders may spend 2010 learning and improving, but long-term he feels that they should flourish.

    “We are keeping our feet on the ground, knowing that we have got a big turnover of riders,” he explained. “A lot of success in the past two years has made our riders very attractive [to other teams], but we are really excited about the young kids who have come on board. We have got 11 new riders...

  • UCI to decide final Pro Continental squads in January

    Alessandro Bertolini (Serramenti Diquigiovanni-Androni Giocattoli)
    Article published:
    December 22, 2009, 16:04 GMT
    By:
    Richard Tyler

    Androni–Diquigiovanni's Savio confident, re-signs Alessandro Bertolini

    Androni–Diquigiovanni principal Gianni Savio has expressed his confidence that his team will be granted Professional Continental status when the International Cycling Union (UCI) makes a final ruling on the second tier licences in January, 2010. The team has meanwhile confirmed Alessandro Bertolini will remain with the team.

    Androni–Diquigiovanni, United States' Rock Racing and the Spanish Xacobeo Galicia were the three teams to miss out on approval when the UCI announced a list of 17 Professional Continental teams for next season earlier this month.

    Savio met with the UCI licence commission last week and has told Tuttobiciweb he is confident that his Venezuelan-registered squad would retain the licence. "On appeal, we have provided all information requested [to the UCI]," he said. "We've explained and demonstrated where necessary that we've acted in total compliance. We'll now calmly wait for the license."

    The UCI confirmed to Cyclingnews on Tuesday that all three teams had re-submitted their applications and the licence commission would rule on the outstanding applications in January, though no date had been confirmed.

    Savio's team also joined Rock Racing and Xacobeo Galicia in applying to the UCI for wild card status. Their success with the latter application will rely upon their approval for a Professional Continental licence.

    Regardless of Androni–Diquigiovanni's status for next season, Italian rider Alessandro Bertolini will continue his 11-year professional career with the team. The 38-year-old will enter his fifth season with the team. He has taken a number of victories including successive wins at the Giro dell'Appennino (2007, 2008) and stage 11 at the 2008 Giro d'Italia.

    Bertolini began his professional career in 1998 with French team Cofidis. He then spent seven years with Italian squads, including five seasons with Alessio-backed teams (2000-2004) and a sole season...

  • Hincapie to tune up for Classics at Tour Down Under

    Hincapie leads charity ride in Greenville, SC
    Article published:
    December 22, 2009, 16:22 GMT
    By:
    Peter Hymas

    BMC Racing finalises TDU roster as Evans begins 2010 campaign at home

    The BMC Racing Team has finalized its roster for the 2010 Tour Down Under, scheduled to take place January 19-24 in Australia. World Champion Cadel Evans and George Hincapie will headline the UCI Pro Continental squad's line-up at the first ProTour event of the 2010 season.

    "I'm happy to be starting off my season at the Tour Down Under since I've enjoyed that race in the past and it gives us a good chance to race in some warm weather," said Hincapie. "Having Cadel on the team roster for that race too, especially since he is the World Road Champion, will make it special."

    Though neither Evans nor Hincapie will be focussed on winning the Australian race, BMC will nevertheless be going with an eye towards a good general classification performance. "Evans' goals are pretty clear later in the season, and the parcours doesn't really suit him," Hincapie said. "My goals come a little later in the spring too, but we'll certainly have some guys heading there to get results."

    BMC Racing for 2010 Tour Down Under:

    Cadel Evans (Aus), George Hincapie (USA), Karsten Kroon (Ned), Danilo Wyss (Swi), Martin Kohler (Swi), Mauro Santambrogio (Ita) and Thomas Frei (Swi).

    Directeur Sportif: John Lelangue

  • Luis León Sánchez targets solid start Down Under

    Spaniard Luis León Sánchez (Caisse d'Epargne)
    Article published:
    December 22, 2009, 17:57 GMT
    By:
    Richard Tyler

    Caisse d'Epargne rider moots Tour-Vuelta double in 2010

    For the fifth time in his career, Luis León Sánchez will commence the new season in Australia at the Tour Down Under. The 25-year-old Caisse d'Epargne rider is hopeful the event will provide the basis for objectives later in the season, which include the Tour de France and Vuelta a España.

    A winner of the Tour Down Under in 2005 and second overall in 2006, Sánchez said that although he has no firm objective for this year's edition, he is confident of lining up with good pre-season condition.

    "Living in Murcia where the weather is nice and sunny almost the whole year through I always start the year in rather good condition, almost unintentionally," he said. "Next January I will try to be one of the riders capable of putting in a good performance in Australia. It won't be easy, but we'll be there with a strong team and we'll do our best to win something."

    Sánchez explained that he has taken a different approach to his preparations for 2010, in order to enter the new season with less bulk than in past years. "I'm not yet ready to fight for victory, but I've reached a reasonably good level. This winter I didn't train in the gym because in previous years my muscle mass increased too much and it has been a problem to lose it," he said.

    "I've ridden my mountain bike a lot and have done a lot of base training on the road. I started forcing the pace a week ago as we'll fly to Australia on January 6 and I want to be ready to go by then."

    Sánchez finished 12th at the 2009 edition of the Tour Down Under before going on to take overall victory at both the Tour of the Mediterranean and Paris-Nice. A stage win at the latter race was followed by similar success in July at the Tour de France, where he claimed the eighth stage into Saint-Girons; his second career stage win at the French Grand Tour.

    His goals for next season include the defense of his Paris-Nice title and, for the first time...

  • Cantwell can't wait for national championships

    Jonathan Cantwell (Fly V Australia) continued his love affair with tour first stage victories .Cantwell has won the opening stages of the recent Tours of Geelong, Murray River, Tasmania and now the Jayco Herald Sun Tour.
    Article published:
    December 23, 2009, 0:04 GMT
    By:
    Cycling News

    Australian revelation hopes to take a jersey in January

    After a breakthough year during which he took 29 wins, Fly V Australia rider Jonathan Cantwell is anticipating the chance to take the biggest victory of his career thus far - a national championship.

    The 27-year-old Queenslander will head into the criterium at the Scody Australian Open Road Cycling Championships in Ballarat on Jaunary 7 as one of the favourites and he's got the attitude to back up the tag.

    "I am really motivated to win the Australian Criterium Championship," said Cantwell. "I am definitely going up to Ballarat to win - I'm in pretty good form at the moment."

    Cantwell will celebrate his 28th birthday the following day, the national champion's jersey a fitting present for the man who has become one of Australia's shining stars in races throughout the US and his home nation.

    His Australian victories include outright victory in the Scody Cup and a total of seven stage wins in the Tours of Geelong, Murray River and Tasmania.

    He was the overall winner of the Murray River tour and capped his season with a third place behind Tour de France star Bradley Wiggins in the Herald Sun Tour, also winning the sprint championship and the final stage.

    "Maybe I can organise myself an early birthday present. I've checked out the course and it suits me," he added. "The boys are super-keen and we should be in the form of our lives."