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First Edition Cycling News, Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Date published:
February 1, 2012, 06:00
  • Muur van Geraardsbergen finale for Eneco Tour

    The Eneco Tour peloton gets stretched out on stage 1.
    Article published:
    January 31, 2012, 18:12
    By:
    Cycling News

    Final stage in Geraardsbergen for the next three years

    It may no longer feature in the parcours of the Tour of Flanders, but the iconic Muur van Geraardsbergen will still host its share of racing action in 2012. Already added to the route of the E3 Prijs Vlaanderen for this season, it was announced on Tuesday that the Muur will be the centrepiece of the final stage of the Eneco Tour for the next three seasons.

    The town of Geraardsbergen has signed an agreement with the Eneco Tour to appear on the route for the next five years, with the final stage set to finish there in each of the next three seasons. In 2012, the race will finish with two laps of a circuit that includes the Muur.

    “In this way, we’re guaranteed of having sporting suspense right until the end,” Eneco Tour organiser Rob Discart told sudpresse.be. “We also have the fortune of being able to have the final difficulty of the day close to the finish. Geraardsbergen has a number of trump cards – the Muur itself, but also the finish zone at the renovated town walls.”

    The final stage of the 2012 Eneco Tour will be something of a mini Tour of Flanders, with the Kwaremont, Paterberg, Eikenberg and Kruisberg all slated to appear on the route, along with the Mont Saint-Laurent.

    The 2012 Eneco Tour runs from August 6-12. 

  • Gallery: Astana joins the Calpe camp clan

    Alexandre Vinokourov (Astana)
    Article published:
    January 31, 2012, 20:15
    By:
    Cycling News

    Vinokourov leads team camp

    The period of training camps is coming to a close [Thank heavens! - Ed.], but that hasn't stopped the Astana team cramming in a final few days of training on the Spanish coast.

    Garmin-Barracuda, BMC, GreenEdge, RadioShack and even a  solitary Nick Nuyens, have all ventured to the sleepy tourist resort.

    This year's Astana team appears as a far stronger proposition to the 2011 version. Janez Brajkovic joins from Astana and will add much needed steel to the team's prospects in stage races, while Dimitry Muravyev, Borut Bozic and Kevin Seeldraeyers will add strength in depth.

    Of course, the star of the Astana show remains Alexander Vinokourov. Whether it's through race performances or controversies, the veteran always attracts attention and with 2012 being his final season in the professional ranks, he'll be looking to go out with a bang before retiring at the London Olympics.

  • Holland Ladies Tour possibly cancelled

    The first race leader of the 2011 Holland Ladies Tour is Marianne Vos (Nederland Bloeit)
    Article published:
    January 31, 2012, 21:21
    By:
    Cycling News

    Race organiser in financial difficulties due to sponsors bowing out

    The 15th edition of the Dutch stage race Holland Ladies Tour, planned to take place from September 4-9, may be cancelled. Race organisers told Dutch ANP that they may be unable to hold the event because main sponsor Profile, as well as other sponsors, have bowed out of their commitments.

    Manager Marten de Lange has put all preparations on hold, as the financial drought made it impossible for him to continue booking hotels. "We need a miracle to make our race still get underway," said De Lange.

    Stage towns, routes and team participation have all been set already for the event that would be an ideal preparation for the 2012 world championships held in the province of Limburg, Netherlands, shortly afterwards.

    The three past editions of the Holland Ladies Tour were won by Marianne Vos. Renowned champions such as Leontien van Moorsel, Kristin Armstrong and Susanne Ljungskog have also taken the honours of the stage race in the past.

  • New home for USA Cycling Professional Road Championships?

    Big crowds in downtwon Greenville for the US Pro road race.
    Article published:
    January 31, 2012, 22:47
    By:
    Neil Browne

    Discussions on-going with several new cities

    For the past seven years, the USA Cycling Professional Road Championships have called Greenville, South Carolina home. However that might change.

    2012 is the last year Greenville has committed to hosting the championships. Cyclingnews spoke to Managing Partner of Medalist Sports, Chris Aronhalt, regarding the possibility of a venue change for the championships.

    "The Request For Proposal (RFP) has been out from USA Cycling for over nine months now and I know they have had on-going discussions with several cities and partner sponsors that want to be part of the event," said Aronhalt.

    "Greenville has been considered, but obviously with the para-cycling world championships [awarded to Greenville for 2014] I'm sure there's a question should they continue with both or stay focused on para-cycling."

    "As of now Greenville has not said no, we're not going to bid on this, but they haven't submitted a bid."

    The professional road race national championships have only had two host cities in its history: Philadelphia and Greenville. Would it be good for the sport to hold the championships in a different city?

    "I do," said Aronhalt. "I'm one of the trustees of USA Cycling and certainly it means a lot having it here (Greenville) going into our seventh year. But based on the membership of USA Cycling and the growth of the sport geographically, to expose other parts of the country to this event and vice versa is a good thing."

    "It takes a lot to host nationals in terms of partnerships, the terrain and financial support. I know there are other cities that are in interested and in discussions with USA Cycling."

    Greenville resident George Hincapie is still undecided if this national professional championships would be his last. When asked if a win in his home city would motivate him to continue into the 2013 season, the BMC rider didn't give any indication that it would.

    "I don't think that would have any part of it," said Hincapie. "It mainly depends on if my family can handle me being gone another year. Also my passion and commitment to the sport has to remain just as it is now. If I start wavering and I start thinking of other things it will be time to stop."

    "That's why I'm not making any decisions right now. I think it will come to me in the next few months, obviously before the end of the year, on what I might be doing."

  • Zirbel presented with Optum-Kelly Benefit Strategies

    Ken Hanson refines his TT position with Hed guru Chris Edin.
    Article published:
    January 31, 2012, 23:39
    By:
    Laura Weislo

    New women's team, cyclo-cross program added to Continental squad

    The historic Guthrie Theater in the heart of Minneapolis was the site of the presentation of the Optum presented by Kelly Benefit Strategies teams on Monday evening.

    The men's team was joined by a new women's organisation, led by directeur Rachel Heal and headed up by a strong contingent of riders from the fractured former Colavita-Forno d'Asolo team, including US National Racing Calendar overall champion Janel Holcomb, Kristin Sanders, Carmen Small and Canadian Leah Kirchman.

    In the fall, the team has also committed to fielding a men's and women's cyclo-cross program that will take in the biggest UCI 'cross races, including the US Grand Prix of Cyclo-cross in the lead-up to the 'cross world championships in Louisville in 2013. Sprinter Alex Candelario and Mike Sherer and several of the women in the road team are likely to take part in the 'cross program.

    The biggest signing for the pro men's Continental squad is Tom Zirbel, a powerful time trial specialist who spent 2011 with Jamis-Sutter Home after getting a surprise reduction of his two-year doping suspension.

    While it might seem counter-intuitive to see Zirbel, who turned up positive for a steroid derivative at the US Pro time trial championship in 2009, on a team that has always been vocally anti-doping, team director Jonas Carney explained that he believes in Zirbel and that his inclusion is right for the squad.

    "The team has always prided itself on being a clean team, and we have a strong anti-doping stance," Carney told Cyclingnews. "When the idea to hire Tom came up, it was a difficult decision."

    After heading to visit with Zirbel in Boulder, Carney came away believing that his positive came as a result of a tainted supplement, although the rider had been unable to identify the exact product responsible. He cooperated with the anti-doping authorities and was eventually given a six month reduction in his ban.

    "The reason we considered Tom was that [Mike Creed], [Andrew] Bajadali and [Scott] Zwizanski all went to bat for him, and they convinced me to consider him.

    "I believed in his story, and I'll stand behind him. Just because a rider has failed a doping test doesn't necessarily mean he's a doper, and just because a rider has never tested positive doesn't mean he's clean.

    "The topic can bring out very emotional reactions, but I had to take the emotion out of it and make the right decision for the team, and that decision was that Tom deserved a chance with us, and we're really happy to have him as part of the team."

    Another reinforcement came in the form of Scott Zwizanski, who returns to the team after an injury-plagued 2011 with UnitedHealthcare. Carney was especially excited about the return of one of the team's main protagonists.

    "We really missed him last year, not only for what he can do on the bike, but what he brings to the table as a person and a personality - his positive energy. I really feel like he belongs with our team. I was disappointed when he left, but we understood he had some opportunities to race in Europe that we couldn't provide, but we couldn't be happier to have him back. I think it's going to make a big difference to the team."

    The team is looking to do two trips to Europe in April and September and the full USA Cycling National Racing Calendar, in addition to seeking out invitations to the Amgen Tour of California and USA Pro Cycling Challenge in Colorado, as well as returning to the Tour of Utah, where Jesse Anthony scored his career's biggest victory.

    However, the decision to remain a Continental squad brings with it an amount of uncertainty when it comes to being invited to the biggest US races. The team could have upgraded to Professional Continental status, but with that comes an exclusion from all of the National Racing Calendar events, including the Nature Valley Grand Prix, which was won by Anthony and is on the home turf of the new main sponsor, Optum.

    Ultimately, the choice to remain Continental was made because it was what would benefit the sponsors and the team the most. "We decided that it was best to have a big presence in the US, and we chose to do this by adding the women's team and the cyclo-cross program rather than try to elevate the level of just the men's team to Pro Continental."

    Exposure in the road off-season will come in a number of high-profile 'cross events, including the US Grand Prix of Cyclo-cross, but whether or not Anthony, as a prior 'cross champion, will return to the field is uncertain. He decided after last year's successful season on the road to call quits to his 'cross career, a call that Carney supported.

    "Personally, I feel he should focus on the road. He has so much talent, I think he can go to Europe and race at a high level, and I hope he has a breakthrough season with us this year, and if we can't take him to Europe to do big stuff, then eventually he will get that opportunity to go - he's that good and I want to see him get a chance."

    Optum-Kelly Benefit Strategies for 2012:

    Men:
    Tom Soladay
    Tom Zirbel
    Sebastian Salas
    Scott Zwizanski
    Reid Mumford
    Mike Sherer
    Mike Friedman
    Mike Creed
    Marsh Cooper
    Ken Hanson
    Jesse Anthony
    Ian Moir
    Colton Barrett
    Code O'Reilly
    Chris Parrish
    Chad Haga
    Andrew Bajadali
    Alex Candelario

    Women:
    Lex Albrecht
    Leah Kirchmann
    Kristin Sanders
    Joelle Numainville
    Janel Holcomb
    Jade Wilcoxson
    Emma Grant
    Denise Ramsden
    Courteney Lowe
    Carmen Small
    Annie Ewart
    Anna Barensfeld
     

  • Video: Haussler back in Europe for stronger 2012

    Heinrich Haussler  off the front trying to shake things up.
    Article published:
    February 1, 2012, 00:47
    By:
    Cycling News

    Australian talks Tour Down Under, and a hard finish to his season at La Vuelta

    Heinrich Haussler (Garmin-Barracuda) is back in Europe after his four-month sojourn in Australia for the Herald Sun Tour, and the Tour Down Under and says he is now ready to assume a more senior role with the team in 2012.

    Thor Hushovd's signing with BMC Racing has meant that Garmin-Barracuda will be relying on Haussler that much more to perform in both the sprints and in the Classics come March and April, and the Australian is confident that despite that loss he is more than ready to step up.

    In this interview with Cyclingnews Haussler talks about his goals for the year ahead, a hard finish to last season at the Vuelta, and a very hot Tour Down Under.

    Part 1:

     

    Part 2:

  • A patient Menchov determined for 2012 Tour de France

    Denis Menchov (Katusha)
    Article published:
    February 1, 2012, 03:17
    By:
    Cycling News

    Holczer promises to walk from Paris to Moscow if Russian wins

    Refreshed, albeit after a frustrating stint at Geox-TMC, Denis Menchov is ready to move forward with Katusha saying that he's more eager than ever before to step onto the podium on the Champs Elysees at the conclusion of the Tour de France.

    Katusha General Manager Hans-Michael Holczer, also in his first season with the Russian outfit, believes that Menchov is the right man for the result.

    "In my 10 years with Gerolsteiner we never had a Tour winner so if Menchov wins in my first year with Katusha, I promise to walk all the way from Paris to Moscow," he told Reuters with the Russian's best result a third overall in 2010.

    The 2012 edition of the Tour de France will be Menchov's 11th attempt at the grand boucle having been forced to watch the 2011 race, won by Cadel Evans (BMC) on television. Menchov chooses to take a positive stance on his absence.

    "I had a chance to watch the race from the outside, analyse it," Menchov told Reuters. "It has given me a different perspective on the race. Not being part of the Tour last year definitely made me more determined to try to win it."

    Having won both the Vuelta a Espana (2007) and the Giro d'Italia (2009), the Tour de France is the obvious omission from Menchov's palmares while the man himself admits it's the "toughest" of the three grand tours to win.

    Now 34, Menchov says that with experience has come self-education about the best way for him to approach the Tour and believes that his best chance to win the general classification will come with a relaxed opening week, followed by taking on the mountains at his own pace.

    "Every rider, except maybe Contador or [Lance] Armstrong in his prime, have their strength and weaknesses," he explained. "[Andy] Schleck, for example, knows he's not as strong in the time trial so he must attack in the mountains to have a chance.

    "As for myself, I usually do well in time trials so in the mountains I can afford to sit back and wait for my chances. You must be patient on the climbs and I've learned how to pace myself over the years. It comes with experience," he added.

    "When I was younger I might have panicked if I was dropped on a big climb. Now I know you can get it back the next day."

  • ASO cedes organisation of Tour de l'Avenir

    Alexander Quintana Rojas signs a jersey as Tour de l'Avenir champion.
    Article published:
    February 1, 2012, 05:50
    By:
    Cycling News

    Tour de l'Ain organiser Alpe Vélo to take over, ASO to remain financial stakeholders

    Tour de France organiser's Amaury Sport Organisation will hand the reins of the Tour de l’Avenir, next scheduled to take place from 26th August to 1st September, to Tour de l'Ain organiser's Alpe Vélo.

    According to ASO the change will not effect financial and logistical support of the race, but is simply a move to streamline their exisiting operations.

    The Tour de l’Avenir, created in 1962 by sports newspaper l’Equipe, part of the Amaury Group, is a one-week long race that has developed a reputation over the years for producing future Grand Tour winners. Denis Menchov, Greg Le Mond, Laurent Fignon and Miguel Indurain have all stood on the top step of the podium in the past

    Since 2008 the event has been run exclusively for national teams and caters for the amateur espoirs riders looking to make a name for themselves in Europe.

    Last year's race was won by Colombian rider Esteban Chaves.