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First Edition Cycling News, Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Date published:
January 25, 2012, 16:00
  • Gallery: Garmin-Barracuda's joy of six

    Tyler Farrar and Fabian Wegmann
    Article published:
    January 24, 2012, 23:10
    Cycling News

    American team hit six hours at Calpe camp

    Garmin-Barracuda's final winter training camp is almost at a close but the riders saved one of their toughest training rides for last with a 6 hour stint through some of Spain's toughest terrain.

    The team has been based in Calpe for over a week, using the warmer climates and varied parcours to fine tune their form. Not everyone from the team has been present, with the Tour Down Under line-up - minus Ryder Hesjedal - jetting in for the final two days. Having arrived jet lagged the riders still managed to sneak in a short ride to help their bodies adjust and the legs ticking over.

    On Wednesday the riders will have a short ride of two hours before enduring the far tougher test of 'media day' and the mandatory team photo shoot.

  • No Arenberg in Paris-Roubaix?

    The Leopard Trek team previewed the Arenberg forest secteur on Thursday.
    Article published:
    January 25, 2012, 04:41
    Cycling News

    Safety concerns arise again after heavy moss growth on cobblestones

    ASO is considering scrapping the Forest of Arenberg section of pavé in this year's Paris-Roubaix after inspections from Jean-François Pescheux and Thierry Gouvenou revealed the cobblestones have been heavily covered by moss and other plant growth making the passage unsafe for racing.

    According to L'Equipe, even with thorough cleaning of the pavé the condition of the road may still not be rideable in 2012.

    "I have told the public authorities in the past and the Office National des Forêts; without proper cleaning, we cannot use Roubaix," said Jean-François Pescheux. "We are basically in the same situation as we were in 2005, when we decided not to pass though Arenberg because of the danger it posed to riders."

    Thierry Gouvenou explained that it was the possibility of inclement weather that posed the biggest risk when the cobbles in Arenberg were in this kind of condition, but hopes that the cleaning work on the pavé will be enough to keep it in use.

    "If the weather is dry, then there is no problem, but if it rains, the risks become excessive," said Thierry Gouvenou. "But assuming the work is performed the right, then hopefully we can retain the same route as 2011."

    Paris-Roubaix will be held April 8.

  • Guesdon determined to end career at Paris-Roubaix

    Frédéric Guesdon (Française des Jeux) looking forward to a shower.
    Article published:
    January 25, 2012, 10:21
    Cycling News

    FDJ-BigMat veteran fractured hip at Tour Down Under

    In spite of sustaining a fracture to his hip at the Santos Tour Down Under, Frédéric Guesdon (FDJ-BigMat) is determined to return to action in time to race Paris-Roubaix in April, before bringing the curtain down on his career.

    Guesdon has returned from Australia to his home in Brittany, and must spend a month off the bike before he can begin training again. Nonetheless, he remains determined to end his career at the classic where he made his name with a surprise victory in 1997.

    “The doctor reckons that the fracture of the hip is a good one, and that I should be able to get back,” Guesdon told Ouest France. “I have to rest for a month and then I’m going to start training again straightaway. There’ll be five or six weeks left from there to the date I’ve set for the end of my career.

    “I really want to finish at Roubaix, it’s the race where I emerged, and one where I’ve taken so much pleasure for over fifteen years.”

    Lying in the Royal Hospital in Adelaide last week, Guesdon admitted that he believed his career was already over. “In hospital, I thought it was the end, I thought that was going to be my destiny,” he said. “You don’t always choose the end of your career. But I was well looked after, and in spite of the language barrier, the hospital staff even made the effort to speak French with me.”

    The 40-year-old described his accident as a routine early season crash – when a rider fell in front of him, Guesdon simply had no time to avoid him. “I didn’t have a scratch, my bike wasn’t scuffed, but my hip took the brunt of the blow,” he said. “But that’s the life of a rider.”

    Although it will be a race against time to regain fitness before the Hell of the North, Guesdon is taking heart from his experiences in 2009, when he broke his collarbone at the Volta ao Algarve but returned in time for the cobbled classics. “That didn’t stop me from being competitive at the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix a month later,” he pointed out. “You have to believe. And I had a good foundation before going to Australia.

    “I’m going to take the time to heal and then stay focused on the objective – finish my career on April 8 on the Roubaix velodrome by giving the best of myself until then.”

  • Nibali tempted by Giro d'Italia

    Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas - Cannondale)
    Article published:
    January 25, 2012, 11:17
    Cycling News

    Italian to decide after Ardennes classics

    Although provisionally set to ride the Tour de France in 2012, Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas-Cannondale) has admitted that he is tempted to line up at the Giro d’Italia as the route suits him better than it did last season.

    His Liquigas co-leader Ivan Basso is already certain to take part in the Giro, while the team has intimated that a final decision on Nibali’s participation will be made after the Ardennes classics.

    “If you ride the Giro, doing the Tour well isn’t possible,” Nibali told Biciciclismo. “I really like the Giro, it’s a race that has given me a lot and has a better route for me this year. I would like to ride it. Ivan will do the Giro and the Vuelta, I don’t think he will go to the Tour. But in any case, the season is long and the programme can change.”

    After finishing on the podium at the Giro in each of the past two seasons, Nibali admitted that it would be difficult to forgo the opportunity of riding the race in 2012. However, he also believes that he is better suited to the long, steady climbs of the Tour de France than the steeper gradients of the Giro.

    “For an Italian, the Giro is really beautiful. It’s hard to pass up on the Giro,” he acknowledged. “The Tour is a very important race and I haven’t ridden it since 2009. In fact, I prefer the route of the Tour because the climbs are longer but less steep, whereas at the Giro they’re shorter and more explosive. But the Giro is the Giro, and all that signifies…”

    For now, Nibali is focused on the early part of the season, where he again aims to shine at Tirreno-Adriatico, Milan-San Remo and the Ardennes classics. “Tirreno and San Remo are goals. The last two years I’ve tried on the Poggio but it’s very difficult to get away alone, the route doesn’t suit me,” he said. “Even when Gilbert attacked last year, he couldn’t stop Goss from winning.”

    Nibali is currently at the Tour de San Luis in Argentina, where he is taking part in his first race of the season and looking to gauge his progress in the stage 4 time trial. “I need to improve in the time trial this year and I’ve worked on it a lot,” he said. “Even here in San Luis, I’ve got the new time trial bike, so it will be a good test.”

  • Oscar Pujol still without a team

    Óscar Pujol (Omega Pharma-Lotto) is ready for the chilly start.
    Article published:
    January 25, 2012, 12:03
    Daniel Benson

    Spaniard passionate about remaining as a pro rider

    Oscar Pujol is still living the life of a professional rider. Each morning he dresses in his race kit, swings his leg over his bike and goes out training for several hours, just like every other professional at January training camps. The only problem is that Pujol is trapped in a time-warp, still wearing his 2011 Omega Pharma team kit, but without a professional contract for 2012, and with time running out.

    The 28-year-old climber has based himself in Calpe, Spain for a block of training and is staying in the same hotel as Garmin-Barracuda. But despite his predicament he hasn't considered retirement.

    “Things are a little complicated because I don’t have a team for this year but I’m still training normally and I’m still motivated,” the Spaniard told Cyclingnews.

    “If I get an opportunity I want to be as strong as I can, so it’s important keep my head up and still work with the same attitude as before.”

    On Tuesday Pujol crossed paths with the BMC riders, who are based along the coast, and trained with them for several hours. But despite coming into such close proximity with so many teams, a opportunity still hasn’t arisen.

    “I called everybody but they all said they were full. I’m not really looking for money, I just want to race and show myself. I really just want to enjoy the bike, that’s my real passion in life,” he said.

    “At the moment I’ll carry on waiting. I don’t have a plan for the future at the moment but there are some options. I can maybe try mountain biking or cross but for now I’m focussing on road. I think I’m good enough to be in a big team, I just don’t know why there’s no opportunity at the moment.”

  • Voeckler can star at Valkenburg Worlds, says Jalabert

    Thomas Voeckler (Europcar)
    Article published:
    January 25, 2012, 13:24
    Cycling News

    French manager reconnoitres 2012 world championships circuit

    Laurent Jalabert believes that Thomas Voeckler (Europcar) can shine at the world championships in Valkenburg in September. The French manager visited the course on Tuesday to carry out his first reconnaissance.

    “Thomas Voeckler has all the required qualities as well as the experience, physical resistance and intelligence,” Jalabert told L’Équipe after inspecting the circuit, which features the sharp climb of the Cauberg in the finale.

    While Jalabert is confident that Voeckler can be a contender on the final laps of the puncheurs’ course, he was more circumspect about Sylvain Chavanel’s chances, and suggested that he might encourage the Omega Pharma-Quick Step rider to go on the offensive earlier on in the race.

    “If it’s going to be decided on the final climb, then I don’t think he has the means to compete for the win,” he said. “But his best performances come when he goes on the attack 50km from the finish.”

    Nonetheless, Jalabert is adamant that he will keep his options open and refused to dismiss sprinter Romain Feillu’s chances, even though the finish line comes just 1.4km after the summit of the Cauberg, which features gradients of 12%. “Today, I’d put him on the same level as [Oscar] Freire, so if I believe that Freire can win, then why can’t he?”

    The 2012 Worlds begin in Maastricht and the peloton must cover 100km before reaching the circuit at Valkenburg. Jalabert warned that riders will have to be vigilant on the twisting roads that mark the first part of the race.

    “The first 100km aren’t the most difficult, but they are delicate and you’ll have to take care that a break doesn’t go from distance,” he said. “After that, another race begins.”

    That race within a race sees the bunch tackle ten laps of a 16.5km circuit, featuring the climbs of the Bemelerberg and the Cauberg. Unlike the Amstel Gold Race, the finish is not at the summit of the Cauberg, but comes 1.4km later, as was the case when the Worlds took place in Valkenburg in 1998.

    Jalabert famously opted not to participate in that world championships, but recalled that Oskar Camenzind’s winning attack did not come on the Cauberg.

    “Apart from the last lap, it’s not a given that the Cauberg is going to be hard enough to make a selection,” he pointed out. “I saw the Worlds in 1998 on television, and I remember that the attacks went on the false flat on the other side of the circuit.”

    On that occasion, World Cup winner Michele Bartoli was the favourite for the rainbow jersey, but the Italian was unable to force his way clear on the climbs had to settle for bronze.

    “If a rider like Gilbert decides to attack on the Cauberg, he is capable of going all the way, but he might also stall,” Jalabert noted.

  • Video: Keough and Thomson relive San Luis's opening stage

    Jay Thomson and Jake Keough will be working together this year to get to the line first.
    Article published:
    January 25, 2012, 14:17
    Peter Hymas

    UnitedHealthcare duo make the split in Argentina

    While Jake Keough (UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling) may very well have been the Tour de San Luis's revelation of stage 2 - finishing third in the field sprint finale behind Omega Pharma-Quick Step teammates Francesco Chicchi and Tom Boonen - just four hours prior to the 24-year-old American's stunning result he and teammate Jay Thomson told Cyclingnews about the eventful finale to Monday's opening stage.

    Under gruelling conditions dominated by rain and even hail, the ProTour teams at the Tour de San Luis decimated the field in the final 40 kilometres resulting in an elite selection of 38 riders arriving together in Villa Mercedes. Keough and Thomson both made the split for the US-based Pro Continental squad and in the team's first race of 2012 Keough cracked the top ten with a ninth-place result.

    Both felt the effects of a hard day in the saddle. Keough crashed once, while Thomson made due with a single gear, a 54x11, over the final 50 kilometres following a near accident with a Movistar rider.

    Keough spoke about the mistakes he made in the finale of his first outing of the 2012 season, while Thomson downplayed his potential for a general classification result - although he suggested he'd be full-on for Thursday's time trial stage in advance of South Africa's national time trial championship in March.

  • Increased spectator capacity for road races at London 2012 Olympics

    Wiggins will be in action at the 2012 Olympic road race
    Article published:
    January 25, 2012, 15:45
    Cycling News

    LOCOG confirm that 15,000 will now able to watch at Box Hill

    The London Organising Committee for the Olympic Games (LOCOG) has bowed down to pressure from cycling fans across the UK and have announced that it will be increasing the spectator capacity for the 2012 Olympic road race.

    Initial plans allowed for just 3,500 spectators at the important vantage point on the Zig Zag incline and on Donkey Green in Box Hill, Surrey. The spot has long been identified as the best place for fans to see the action, with the men's race set for nine loops round Box Hill and the women's race looping there twice. After consulting with the National Trust, LOCOG have confirmed a four-fold increase in capacity up to 15,000.

    Box Hill is owned by the National Trust, who last year expressed concerns over the environmental impact of allowing large numbers of spectators to converge on the incline. But their reservations have been overcome by LOCOG's own thorough investigations.

    "It's great news that so many people will be able to enjoy the races in this wonderful natural setting," said Andy Wright, the National Trust manager for Box Hill. "The surveys conducted by LOCOG are the most thorough ever carried out on this site and will really help us manage the habitat for the long term."

    Work on clearing the site is scheduled to start on January 30.

    “We are delighted to welcome people to watch the Olympic Road Race from the Zig Zag Road and Donkey Green at Box Hill," said Debbie Jevans, London 2012 director of sport. "We will give people the chance to see a generous amount of road race competition at one of the best stretches of road, which we are able to do following the test event and our learnings there. Spectators will have a unique viewing position on the route, and there is another 120km of route which is free to spectators, including some great points through London and the Royal Parks.”