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First Edition Cycling News, Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Date published:
February 23, 2011, 0:00 GMT
  • Amstel Gold Race announces first four wildcard invitations

    Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma-Lotto) wins Amstel Gold Race
    Article published:
    February 22, 2011, 10:40 GMT
    Cycling News

    More may follow, race management says

    The Amstel Gold Race has issued its first four wildcard invitations for this year's race, with the lucky winners being one Dutch and three Belgian teams. The race management has indicated that more wildcard invitations might be forthcoming.

    The four teams are Professional Continental, as Dutch squad Skil-Shimano is joined by the Belgian teams Landbouwkrediet, Topsport Vlaanderen, and Verandas Willems.

    The 18 ProTeams have already been invited. On the race website, the race management noted that “At this moment 22 teams are selected for the Amstel Gold Race. In a later stage the course director will decide if he announces more wildcards or if the numbers of teams stays at 22.”

    This year's race is scheduled for April 17, and Philippe Gilbert of Omega Pharma-Lotto will be looking to defend his title from last year.

  • Belgian federation envisions whole nation hosting 2016 Worlds

    The Flemish and Belgian flags wave wildly for Tom Boonen.
    Article published:
    February 22, 2011, 11:30 GMT
    Cycling News

    Chairman sees financial and sporting benefits

    Belgium is looking to host the 2016 World championships and the chairman of the Belgian cycling federation envisions a championships spread all across the entire country.

    Traditionally the championships have been held in one city or one region, but Tom Van Damme has a new idea.

    "I think the world championships with both Flanders and Wallonia involved would have more value,” he told ”I think the alternative is a much wider spread, so that both sporting and financial support will increase. "

    "The time trials are held, for example, in Flanders and for the ride for the rainbow jersey on the road you start in Flanders and end deep in Walloon. I have had informal talks with Prime Minister Yves Leterme, among others.”

    “For example, we can begin the road race in Leuven and Hasselt and finish in Namur and Liège. The Citadel of Namur would be a great backdrop, for example. “

    A wider geographic area would also give more fiscal possibilities. “Financially it is virtually impossible for a city to self-finance the championships,” he pointed out. “I think the time is ripe for such a project, given the popularity of cycling with Boonen and Gilbert across the language barriers."

    The proposed nationwide bid also serves as a counter to the divisions that have grown between the political parties of Belgium's Flemish and Walloon regions in the past year. The country has been left without a federal government since elections held last June, breaking a world record previously held by Iraq.

  • Peraud to ride TT and MTB in London 2012 Olympics?

    Frenchman Jean-Christophe Peraud (AG2R) out of the saddle on Mont Faron.
    Article published:
    February 22, 2011, 12:02 GMT
    Barry Ryan

    Frenchman to ride four rounds of MTB World Cup this season

    Jean-Christophe Peraud (Ag2r-La Mondiale) will race four rounds of the mountain bike World Cup this season as he bids to compete in two disciplines at the 2012 Olympics.

    The Frenchman, who turned to the road after winning a mountain bike silver medal in Beijing, admitted that he would like to earn selection for both the time trial and the mountain bike cross country race in London next year.

    “The Olympic programme is good on paper,” Peraud told L’Équipe. “The time trial is at the beginning of the Games and the mountain bike comes at the end. It’s doable, but at the same time it’s a long way from being realised.”

    Peraud is circumspect about the possibility of the dream becoming a reality, however, and insisted that the principal motivation behind racing in the mountain bike World Cup this year is to complement his work on the road. The 34-year-old will ride the Dalby Forest and Offenburg rounds of the competition to prepare for the Criterium du Dauphiné, and he is also set to ride in Novo Mesto and Val di Sole in August.

    As he has lost all of his mountain bike ranking points, Peraud will start his first races at the back of the field.

    “It will be hard to get into the top 10,” he admitted. “But if I’m returning to the mountain bike, it’s above all to work towards the road.”

    Peraud joined Ag2r-La Mondiale after a season with Omega Pharma-Lotto, and he is grateful to his new team for giving him the opportunity to race off road, and even allowing him to use a bike of his own choosing, made by New Cycling. However, Peraud acknowledged that...

  • Boonen says Omloop Het Nieuwsblad victory not a priority

    Tom Boonen lead the Quick Step riders off.
    Article published:
    February 22, 2011, 12:33 GMT
    Barry Ryan

    Belgian aiming for Flanders and Roubaix

    Tom Boonen (Quick Step) has said that Saturday’s Omloop Het Nieuwsblad is not one of his priorities for 2011, even though he has never before won Belgium’s season-opening race. After returning from the Tour of Oman, Boonen is set to line up at both Het Nieuwsblad and Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne this weekend.

    “No, it’s not really [an objective],” Boonen told “In the first years of my career I tried to win it, but it comes a bit early. It’s just a question of timing, although it is surprising that I’ve twice won the day after at Kuurne, but never there.”

    Boonen looked in impressive shape in the early part of the Tour of Qatar, winning the opening road stage, and he said that he bears no ill effects from his fall in the neutralised zone on the final day. He has since completed the Tour of Oman and is pleased with his condition.

    “My win on the first stage of the Tour of Qatar reassured me,” he said. “I’m at the level I should be at.”

    Boonen’s main springtime objectives come, as ever, at the beginning of April. Although he was powerless to stop Fabian Cancellara’s astounding march to victory at the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix last year, Boonen insists that his preparation was more than adequate and his confidence remains intact.

    “[I can beat Cancellara] by preparing in exactly the same way and by having the same physical condition,” Boonen said. “In 2009, I was the one who beat him and I didn’t change anything in 2010. I took a blow to my morale during the Tour of Flanders when he dropped...

  • Haussler's season off to perfect start

    Heinrich Haussler (Garmin-Cervelo) looks happy in the golden race leader's jersey
    Article published:
    February 22, 2011, 13:47 GMT
    Cycling News

    Two wins in Tour of Qatar inspire Garmin-Cervelo rider

    Heinrich Haussler is more than satisfied with his "perfect start“ to the 2011 season, with two early victories at the Tour of Qatar. The Garmin-Cervelo rider will now skip the opening Belgian races in favour of a two-week training block.

    After a 2010 season marked more by knee problems than by sporting success, the Australian was happy to get the new season off to a winning start. He took the mass sprint win in the second stage of the Tour of Qatar, and then repeated his success the next day. That stage three win gave him the leader's jersey. In the end he was second overall, only eight seconds behind winner Mark Renshaw (HTC-Highroad).

    From there Haussler went to the Tour of Oman, where he rode only the first four stages. "I am more than satisfied with my wins in the second and third stages of the Tour of Qatar. It is a great feeling to already have two victories in February. OK, I must admit that I would have liked to have won the Tour of Qatar..." he wrote on his personal homepage.

    Instead of riding Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne this weekend, he is off training with teammate Matthew Wilson.

    "These races are good for me and I would have liked to have ridden them, but I think it is better to do another two-week training block.“

    From there, he will head to Paris-Nice before going for victory in Milan-San Remo and the cobbled Classics.

  • Rabobank announces short list for Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne

    Lars Boom (Rabobank) enjoys his moment on the podium
    Article published:
    February 22, 2011, 14:30 GMT
    Cycling News

    Boom, Wynants and Langefeld to lead Dutch team

    Rabobank will look to Lars Boom, Maarten Wynants and Sebastian Langeveld in the opening Belgian races this weekend. The Dutch ProTeam announced its short list for the upcoming Omloop Het Nieuwsblad (Saturday) and Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne (Sunday).

    Boom and Wynants both started their seasons at the Tour of Qatar, where Boom won the opening time trial to take the first leader's jersey. Langeveld had top five finishes at two races in the Challenge Mallorca before going on to the Tour of the Algarve.

    Rabobank had nominated ten riders for the race on Saturday, from which it has picked eight: Lars Boom, Laurens ten Dam, Jos van Emden, Rick Flens, Sebastian Langeveld, Coen Vermeltfoort, Maarten Tjallingii, and Maarten Wynants.

    For the race on Sunday, the team will be named after the Omloop. Six of the above riders will participate, along with Bram Tankink and Tom Leezer.

  • Contador not avoiding foreign races says spokesman

    Article published:
    February 22, 2011, 18:50 GMT
    Barry Ryan

    Saxo Bank Sungard rider to race in Spain until late April

    The early part of Alberto Contador’s contentious return to competition is set to take place exclusively on the Iberian Peninsula, but his spokesman has denied that this is a deliberate attempt on the Saxo Bank Sungard rider’s part to avoid a potentially hostile reception further afield

    “That’s not the case,” Jacinto Vidarte told “This calendar had already been partially drawn up before this whole affair. Alberto had it in mind to work out a preparation that would allow him to take part in two Grand Tours.”

    Contador began his season in Portugal last week at the Volta ao Algarve and will now return to home roads in Spain for his next three races. In previous seasons, Paris-Nice has been a fixture in Contador's early build-up, but this time around the Tour of Murcia (March 4-6), the Volta a Catalunya (March 21-27) and the Vuelta a Castilla y Leon (April 13-17) are next on the agenda. It is understood that Contador may then take part in one of the Ardennes Classics in preparation for the Giro d’Italia.

    Contador’s eventual participation in both the Giro and the Tour de France may well be subject to an eventual appeal of the Spanish Federation’s (RFEC) decision to clear him, although neither WADA nor the UCI has yet confirmed that it will appeal the matter to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

    Spanish riders' union calls for "respect"

    Meanwhile, the Spanish professional cyclists’ union ACP (Asociación de Ciclistas Profesionales) has released a statement in defence of its members after what it termed “the latest accusations on doping made by various individuals and...

  • Armstrong's urine samples requested by US authorities

    Lance Armstrong (USPS) rides past a US flag near the Arc de Triomphe during the last stage
    Article published:
    February 23, 2011, 0:11 GMT
    Jane Aubrey

    New AFLD president confirms handover process is underway

    The new president of the Agence Francaise de Lutte contra le Dopage (AFLD), Bruno Genevois says US authorities have asked for Lance Armstrong's urine samples from the 1999 Tour de France.

    In a preview of an extended article due to run in Thursday's Le Monde, Genevois says that the process to hand over the samples is on-going.

    "Every citizen must answer to justice when approached by it," he said. "I promise that in time the AFLD complies with the Convention on Franco-American Mutual Assistance. But for now, the procedure of the International Rogatory Commission has only just begun."

    Genevois took the reins at the French Anti-Doping Agency late last year following the resignation of Pierre Bordry, nine months before the end of his term.

    The AFLD is confident of a partnership with the International Cycling Union (UCI) to perform doping controls at this year's Paris-Nice and Tour de France.

    "A dialogue is ongoing," Genevois explained. "A negotiation is underway, it is not permanently stabilised, but I feel we've progressed... The UCI and the AFLD must work together to make the best possible controls. We want to install a sincere cooperation."

    The 68-year-old refused to be drawn on Alberto Contador, saying that a decision on the Spaniard's future rests with the Court of Arbitration for Sport should the UCI or World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) decide to appeal.