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First Edition Cycling News, Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Date published:
February 22, 2012, 0:00 GMT
  • Casar helps FDJ-BigMat youngsters

    Sandy Casar (FDJ) in Al Wakra during the Tour of Qatar.
    Article published:
    February 21, 2012, 19:44 GMT
    Barry Ryan

    Frenchman takes aim at Giro d'Italia

    Sandy Casar’s performance at the Tour of Oman was perhaps representative of his current role at FDJ-BigMat. With a number of promising French talents on the roster, elder statesmen such as Casar are expected to aid in their development, while also chipping in with results of their own.

    The 33-year-old Casar succeeded on both counts on the queen stage to Jabal Al Akhdar, as he came home in third place after pacing Arnold Jeannesson up much of the final climb. The French pair went on the finish the race in fourth and fifth place overall.

    “I’m happy to try and help them, they’re great talents,” Casar told Cyclingnews. “Thibaut Pinot is strong in the mountains and Arnold clearly climbs very well too. They’ve both shown early on that they can be up there with the best, and we’re looking to give them the right advice and help them save their efforts for the right moment to win big races.

    “We saw that with Arnaud Démare at the Tour of Qatar already. Day by day, he learned from his little errors, because it’s obviously much different to racing with the amateurs. But he learned very quickly and he won on the last day.”

    FDJ-BigMat manager Marc Madiot announced at the beginning of the year that he would look to give youngsters such as Pinot, Jeannesson and Démare as much as responsibility within the team as possible. Casar recalls his manager employing similar methods when he emerged to finish second at Paris-Nice ten years ago, and broadly agrees with the approach.

    “Back in 2002, I remember that Marc told me just before the start of Paris-Nice that I would be leader,” Casar recalled. “I wasn’t expecting it as there were...

  • Durtschi looking to prove himself on national team

    Max Durtschi (Felt-Holowesko Partners-Garmin 23).
    Article published:
    February 21, 2012, 21:40 GMT
    Pat Malach

    Former US junior champion aims at U23 Paris-Roubaix

    Following an off-season in which he did not renew his contract for the upcoming season with the Chipotle-First Solar Development Team, and then an overture from a possible Italian-based Saxo Bank U23 squad led nowhere, 21-year-old Max Durtschi is on a mission to prove himself this year.

    The winner of the 2009 junior criterium and road race US national championships said he will spend his 2012 season in Europe with the U23 national team trying to nail down the big results that get the pro teams' attention.

    "I'm strong this year and I'm focused," Durtschi said from Portland, Oregon, where he's been training for the upcoming season with his former junior coach, Oliver "Butch" Martin. "Unfortunately in the off-season some things happened in terms of I was looking at different teams and things didn't work out. But I have a strong program with the national team, and I know that what I have to do is go to the big races and have big rides. And if you can do that then the pro teams notice."

    This will be only the second season that Durtschi has focused solely on cycling, said the former ski racer from Idaho who spent several seasons on the Nordic national development team, and he hopes the increased intensity in cycling-specific training and focus will be the final piece he needs to put his cycling puzzle together.

    "At this level you have to focus 110 percent on one sport – one goal – and go for it," he said. "After I won nationals as a junior, two weeks later I was already at a US ski team training camp in Vancouver. It was very difficult. I was racing full time all year round and eventually it just became too much. My first year with (Garmin's development team) I did...

  • RusVelo officially unveiled in Mallorca

    The RusVelo men's and women's team in Mallorca
    Article published:
    February 22, 2012, 1:40 GMT
    Cycling News

    Men's and women's road teams racing this weekend

    RusVelo has been officially launched in Mallorca with both men's and women's professional teams taking centre stage, days out from their first race of the season Le Tour de Langkawi which begins on Friday.

    The team's general manager Heiko Salzwedel, said his years of experience honed in Australia, Britain and all over Europe, including his native Germany gives him great hope that the project is on the cusp of great things.

    "I come from a solid background always at the top of professional sport and I am sure that my experience in RusVelo will grow further," he said. "We have before us an important season, with the Olympic track events, road and time trials. They will be our priorities around which we have built a series of intermediate targets and competitive tests which we will use in the lead up."

    The team recently endured a punishing training camp in Australia under the guidance of Henk Vogels, who Salzwedel worked with at the Australian Institute of Sport.

    "We worked very well together right from the start of the first training camp," Salzwedel explained. "These will continue to be one of our strengths throughout our entire season. We will fix the locations where the team will be based to try to always work together and then finalise the individual goals with the team. "

    Salzwedel is particularly confident in the promise of his female athletes who will work under sports director, Jochen Dornbusch, with success already found on the track a full season of racing has been planned.

    Experienced German Hanka Kupfernagel, a five-time cyclo-cross world champion, is a key member of the team will focus on the road for the remainder of the season with the aim of peaking for the two biggest events on the calendar.

    "Now I'll start the preparation for the Olympic time trial in London, which will be my big goal of the season," the 37-year-old said...

  • New South Wales Grand Prix named 2011 Event of the Year

    Rabobank's Michael Matthews claims a narrow victory over Chris Sutton (Sky) and Caleb Ewan (NSWIS)
    Article published:
    February 22, 2012, 2:49 GMT
    Cycling News

    Two race series lauded at sports awards

    The New South Wales Grand Prix won the 2011 Event of the Year at the NSW Sports Awards last week, despite the criterium series being truncated due to a lack of government support. The award is seen as a positive if the New South Wales Grand Prix is to expand as hoped.

    "There is little doubt that we are delighted with winning this prestigious award and must be gratifying for the various supporters, especially NSW Government and Skoda, the Nine Network and 2GB," said series promoter, Phill Bates. "The sport of cycling needs the opportunity of having world class cycling and this event has attracted so many great champions and given NSW cyclists the opportunity of racing against some of the best in the world."

    The event was cut from five races in 2010, to just two in 2011 with criteriums being held in Wollongong and Cronulla on the final weekend of November. Chris Sutton (Sky) was crowned men’s champion for the second year running with his first place at the Wollongong event, followed by a narrow loss to Michael Matthews (Rabobank) at Cronulla. Former national champion Kirsty Broun, while not a major player in race two, did enough to secure the overall victory following her second placing in Wollongong.

    "Wollongong City Council was magnificent in their support and apart from many aspects managed to provide more than $200,000 worth of works to ensure and fast and safe circuit," Bates said. "Sutherland Shire Council has always been the forefront of the Cronulla Grand Prix, staged for the first occasion back in 2006."


  • Neo-pro Olheiser breaks through in Rutas opener

    Michael Olheiser leads the group under sunny Tucson skies.
    Article published:
    February 22, 2012, 3:46 GMT
    Pat Malach

    Competitive Cyclist get season off to perfect start

    Competitive Cyclist's first-year pro Mike Olheiser got his rookie season underway with an impressive solo win Tuesday at the first stage of the Rutas de Americas, a UCI 2.2 race in Uruguay.

    Olheiser rode away from the fractured bunch in an effort to take a three-second KOM time bonus about 99 km into the 146 km opening stage from Montevideo to Minas. When no one in the field reacted to Olheiser's move, the 37-year-old multiple masters time trial world champion pressed the issue and zeroed in on his first professional win.

    "They gave him a good-sized gap, and I was like, 'hmmm, they don't know this guy can time trial like we do,'" said Competitive Cyclist director Gord Fraser. "It was really difficult terrain with a lot of up and down. He was able to get his momentum up on the downhills and really carry it over the rollers. So he just did a great job."

    The Rutas de Americas marks the team's first foray into international racing after team leader Francisco Mancebo won the USA Cycling National Race Calendar individual title last year. Fraser said Olheiser's first professional win in as many tries has already set the tone for a major team goal this season.

    "I've been big on this word diversification of results, and we've certainly got it the very first race," Fraser said. "So I couldn't be happier for the guys. It's good for the morale. We're having a great time here already. It's quite an adventure, and it's certainly different than what we're used to, so we're rolling with it and having a good time. This will just set us up for the rest of the week without any pressure now."

    Mancebo started the fireworks Tuesday for Competitive Cyclist, soloing away from the bunch to win the first intermediate sprint at 28 km and grabbing the time bonus. The team continued to force the issue for the next 30 km, working with Porongos de Flores of Uruguay to...

  • BikeNZ PureBlack Racing prepare for debut in Malaysia

    Sam Bewley (New Zealand) crosses the line first.
    Article published:
    February 22, 2012, 7:30 GMT
    Cycling News

    Rebranded outfit to be bolstered by the late inclusion of Sam Bewley

    BikeNZ PureBlack Racing will make its debut as a rebranded outfit when it takes on the 10-stage Tour de Langkawi later this week. The team earned an invite to the prestigious Malaysian race through its classification as a national team courtesy of its BikeNZ affiliation. It's a sort of rebirth for the iconic squad having come so close to folding late last year before the efforts of the national association, and several PureBlack Racing supporters banded together to continue the team.

    Elite men's national road champion James Williamson will spearhead BikeNZ PureBlack's attack on the Malaysian race, with climbing specialists Michael Torckler and Joe Cooper good chances for the overall, particularly if they can hold on, on the critical uphill battle at Genting Highlands.

    Though Tim Gudsell had initially been down to race for the team, he'll be replaced by the late inclusion of Sam Bewley who will return to the road after a strong performance with the NZ pursuit team at the London World Cup. Bewley's strength on the flats and refined time trial abilities will make him a contender on multiple stages, and bolsters the overall versatility of the BikeNZ PureBlack racing set up in Malaysia.

    "I’m excited to head to Langkawi for the Tour. It’s always been a tour that has caught my fancy," said Bewley. "I'm racing the Tour as part of my preparation for the Track World Championships.

    "I discussed the possibility of doing this with national track coach Tim Carswell and he believed it would be good for my preparation. I'll pick my days, some stages I'll race hard and see...

  • Prudhomme: no winners in Contador doping case

    Christian Prudhomme announces the route of the 2012 Paris-Nice
    Article published:
    February 22, 2012, 10:38 GMT
    Cycling News

    Tour chief disappointed by timeframe of appeal

    Tour de France director Christian Prudhomme has said that there were no winners in the Alberto Contador clenbuterol case, which saw the Spaniard stripped of his 2010 Tour de France title and suspended for two years after the Court of Arbitration for Sport upheld a joint appeal from WADA and the UCI on the matter earlier this month.

    “Everybody has lost: the Tour, Contador, his adversaries and the people, because so many events with Contador took place while they were deliberating on his case,” Prudhomme told Le Soir.

    Prudhomme was reluctant to give his opinion on the validity of the CAS verdict, but reiterated his disappointment at the length of time it took to reach a decision. He believes that in future, the timeframe of any appeals process should be reduced.

    “I can’t talk about it too much, because it’s not up to me to give my opinion on the good or the bad side of this judgement,” he said. “I maintain that a verdict was given, but far too late. In the world of sport, it’s necessary to find much quicker and more efficient ways so as not to envelope our events in latent suspicion.

    “I’m not against the Court of Arbitration for Sport, but perhaps it might be better to have a first instance CAS, which would decide rapidly but at the same time without neglecting the serenity with which a decision like that must be taken.”

    Looking ahead to the 2012 Tour, Prudhomme acknowledged that Cadel Evans and Andy Schleck will be to the fore in a race that will see the overall contenders tested from the opening exchanges in Belgium.

    “They will be two key...

  • Plans to charge fans to watch Olympic road races criticised

    Brailsford and Cavendish are planning for gold at the London 2012 Olympics
    Article published:
    February 22, 2012, 11:40 GMT
    Cycling News

    Key London Assembly figure accuses organisers of going back on their word

    Having initially promised that the road races at the London 2012 Olympics would be one of the few events that the general public would be able to watch free of charge and without tickets, the organisers have announced plans to charge fans who want to watch on the key vantage point of Box Hill, provoking widespread criticism.

    Anyone now wanting to watch on Box Hill, which the riders will race past numerous times, will need a ticket. The London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) have stated that the decision has been made in order to protect the stretch of land, which is a designated area of outstanding natural beauty, from overcrowding. But Baroness Doocey, who is the Chair of the Olympic Committee at the London Assembly, told British radio station LBC 97.3 that she would be questioning LOCOG and the government about it.

    "I'm very unhappy about it,” she said. “We were promised cycling was going to be free - and I think for them to go back on that promise now is totally wrong. I'm going to ask them to seriously reconsider that decision. I think it’s completely and utterly wrong.

    "They are saying they need to restrict access, but there are many ways to do that. They don't need to charge people for it. I can't think of any reason that would justify charging for something that was promised to the public as: ‘Don't worry, if you haven't got a ticket there are lots of events you can see free like the marathon and cycling’. You can't then go back and say ‘well actually, some of it is free and some you'll have to pay for’.”