Jerseys to change hands as race enters the mountains
As the Tour de Langkawi heads into the highlands over the next two days, the minor classifications are heating up as the major one looks to change hands. Italian Andrea Guardini (Farnese Vini-Neri Sottoli) is expected to relinquish his yellow jersey as leader of the Tour but it is the points classification that is the big talking point.
At the end of stage three, Guardini holds the blue points jersey with 51 points, equal with last year’s winner Anuar Manan (Terengganu ProAsia Cycling Team). Both riders have made no secret of the fact that they are gunning for the jersey, so a two-way battle is expected for the rest of the race.
Guardini has shown he has the speed by winning the first two stages, but Manan has gradually closed in with a third place yesterday and a second today. Despite this, Guardini is hopeful of holding the jersey all the way to Kuala Lumpur.
“Two mountain stages in a row means we will have to fight hard for the blue jersey,” said Guardini. “It’s not an easy thing to do with the climbs but I will try to contest the intermediate sprints and perhaps try to make the break tomorrow to give myself the best chance of keeping the jersey.
“It will be impossible to keep the yellow jersey tomorrow but I hope to keep the blue jersey with my team, Farnese Vini, until Kuala Lumpur,” said Guardini.
The king of the mountains classification is close with Mehdi Sohrabi (Tabriz Petrochemical Team) and leader since stage one, Koen de Kort (Skil Shimano) equal at six points. De Kort admitted that a tactical error on the climb today may have hampered his chances of keeping the jersey after tomorrow.
“The tactic was for the team to lead on the climb and then lead-out the sprint as I was told the climb wasn’t too hard,” said...
USA Cycling announced this week the creation of a new class of team dubbed the Domestic Elite Team to "better organize the top level of road cycling in the United States". Prior to this move there were two classes of team, club and UCI-registered professional, in the USA.
Teams wishing to gain points in the National Racing Calendar will now be required to register as a Domestic Elite Team by March 15 at a cost of $250. The teams must consist of category 1 men only and for women, category 1 and 2 riders.
Individuals may still compete in the NRC for points even if they are not on a registered team.
"Following discussion at the NRC event organizers summit in November, the need to organize the top tier of domestic road teams more effectively was clear and the incorporation of these Domestic Elite Teams is one way to help us get there," said Micah Rice, USA Cycling's managing director of national events.
"We also needed a way to raise the degree of consistency and fairness in the NRC Team points calculation and this will allow us to do that while bringing more value to these top tier teams and events around the U.S."
Teams may include guest riders for NRC events with a release from the rider's registered club, but guest riders can only score individual points, and will not be counted toward the team classification.
The NRC kicks off on March 30 with the Redlands Bicycle Classic in Redlands, California.
The 2010 MotoGP Rookie of the Year, Ben Spies, has launched the Elbowz Racing Elite Cycling Team, with the goal of being a professionally-run, high-profile team, that supports local children’s charities through outreach programs, awareness, and donations.
The team is comprised of young, emerging talent, mentored by experienced, seasoned veterans. Each rider was selected based upon their strength and personality to build what is one of the most promising teams to ever come out of Texas.
Elbowz Racing's 2011 schedule will focus primarily on the USA criterium schedule, select US National Racing Calendar and UCI events, in addition to regional races.
"We are very proud of our roster of riders and sponsors that we have secured for the 2011 season and beyond. With Ben's commitment to the sport, and the talent within the team, we're building something exciting for the future," said team manager Nick Kiernan.
Elbowz Racing has a two-tiered roster with a dedicated traveling squad and a smaller regional group, local to Spies' Texas home.
National roster: Heath Blackgrove (team captain), Andrew Gonzales, Christian Helmig, Tyler Jewell, Nick Kiernan (team manager), Joe Schmalz, Ben Spies (owner), Mat Stephens, Austin Stewart
Regional roster: Bret Crosby, Simon Essl, Randy Kienest, Michael Kincaid
Team captain Heath Blackgrove (pictured, above right) brings a wealth of international and domestic experience to the team. "I became interested in the Elbowz project after meeting with Spies and learning of his devotion to developing younger riders, and his dedication to owning a team that is rooted in teamwork," said Blackgrove.
Sponsors include motorcycle companies such as Alpinestars and Yamaha GYTR Parts plus Specialized Bicycle Components, Zipp Speed Weaponary and Monster Energy.
New information regarding del Moral referral emerges
The management of Jonathan Vaughters' Slipstream Sports team today released a statement concerning the current situation regarding former rider Trent Lowe. The team says that information regarding Lowe's attendance at Dr. Luis Garcia del Moral's clinic only emerged during contract disputes between Slipstream Sports and the rider.
The team has also included a timeline of events surrounding the case; from Lowe's disclosure that he attended del Moral's clinic to the dismissal of directeur sportif Matt White and the subsequent allegation that Lowe and advisor Martin Hardie (who organised an anti-doping conference featuring Floyd Landis during last year's UCI Road World Championships in Australia) "threatened to publicly expose certain information relating to Dr. Luis Garcia del Moral unless Slipstream acceded to their demands, which included a payment of $500,000 to Trent".
The press release is as follows:
Slipstream Sports is committed to transparency and as such we want to share new information regarding Trent Lowe.
We have been in discussions with Trent Lowe and his advisor regarding the possible settlement of a proposed breach of contract threatened by Trent in connection with his rider agreement with Slipstream (which expired on December 31, 2010).
In the course of these negotiations, on January 24, 2011, Trent, through his advisor, made it known that there was new information relating to Dr. Luis Garcia Del Moral. At this time they threatened to publicly expose certain information relating to Dr. Luis Garcia del Moral unless Slipstream acceded to their demands, which included a payment of $500,000 to Trent.
Upon receiving this new information we immediately...
Garmin-Cervelo's Australian recovered from knee problems
Heinrich Haussler is going into the 2011 season with fresh hopes for success with his new team Garmin-Cervelo. Having recovered from the knee problems which put an end to his Spring Classic hopes last year, he will once again look to do well in those races, although he will face strong competition from within his own team.
The Australian will once again open with the Tour of Qatar, where he finished ninth overall last year, and stay in the Middle East for the Tour of Oman.
Haussler will skip the early Belgian races this year, including the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, where he finished second in 2010. His first European race will be Paris-Nice. From there he will go to Milan-San Remo and hope to better his second place finish from 2009.
He will then head to Belgium for Dwars Door Vlaanderen, the E3 Prijs Vlanderen, and the Tour of Flanders, topping off his spring with Paris-Roubaix.
Inter-team rivalry and knee problems
The 25-year-old hopes to have put last year's knee problems behind and will vie for leadership with Thor Hushovd and Tyler Farrar, who both have their eyes on the top races.
Hushovd finished third in Paris-Roubaix in 2009 and second last year. Farrar has proven himself in difficult one-day races by winning the Vattenfall Cyclassic for the last two years, and last year made an impression in the spring races, winning the Grote Scheldeprijs and a stage at the Three Days of De Panne.
Haussler underwent knee surgery last July, after suffering most of the early season. A crash in Paris-Nice last year aggravated knee problems which had first popped up in the Volta ao Algarve, and subsequently held him out of racing for two months.
Upon his return, he promptly crashed twice in the Tour of California injuring his knee again. Another racing...
Team Sky to give Swede his big chance as team captain
Thomas Löfkvist (Team Sky) will lead the British team at the Giro d’ Italia where he will be hoping to finally stamp his authority as a grand tour contender. The 26-year-old finished second in the 2004 Tour de l’ Avenir and has shown flashes of promise since, with 18th in last year’s Tour and several days leading the 2009 Giro.
“I’ll go there as good as I can be but I think I have to just wait and see how the race pans out. I would like to be a grand tour rider,” Löfkvist told Cyclingnews.
This year’s Giro has been marked as one of the hardest in recent years and suited to pure climbers, and although Löfkvist doesn’t fit that exact mould, he is confident that he can seize his opportunity.
Last season he was Sky’s best rider on GC at the Tour de France, despite entering the race as a lieutenant for Bradley Wiggins. A chance at the Vuelta later that year was offererd to him but tragic circumstances and the death of Txema Gonzalez, a team soigneur, saw the entire team pull out in a mark of respect.
“The aim was to do a good Vuelta last year but because of the circumstances last year that didn’t happen, so I guess that you could say with the full back up, this will be the first real shot. But on the other hand, at last year's Tour I had great support and back up there,” he said.
Sky have yet to announce their full line up for the Giro, but with Wiggins skipping the race to focus on a more traditional Tour de France build up, Löfkvist will look for support from the rest of the team. However, he is keen to point out that the team will have other goals than just his GC ambitions, adding that he doesn’t need an entire team around him for...
Dominic Klemme may not be a household name in cycling but the young German, who bears an uncanny likeness to Jan Ullrich, is a respected and promising rider on the Leopard Trek team. Having finished 14th in his Paris-Roubaix debut last year, he did enough to win a contract with Leopard and has aspirations on improving into a Classics rider in the coming years.
First things first, and Klemme will be looking for his first pro win this year. In this video he talks about leaving Bjarne Riis and Saxo Bank, signing for his new team and his goals for 2011.
UPDATE: Spanish federation head confirms rider to be told on Thursday
Juan Carlos Castano, president of the Spanish Cycling Federation, confirmed that Alberto Contador will be informed on Thursday of the results of the doping investigation. "We aren't going to delay this any longer, " he told the Reuters news agency.
Both Contador and the International Cyclng Union will be informed of the federation's decision. Contador will have ten days to appeal the decision, if he is found guilty. It is not known whether there will be any public announcement on Thursday.
Earlier, Spanish sources had said that the Federation will pass a resolution Thursday to suspend Alberto Contador for one year, with other sources denying that any action would be taken this week. The draft resolution would not become final for another ten days.
The Spanish federation had asked the International Cycling Union for scientific consulting. Cyclingnews understands that the UCI has not yet submitted its dossier.
The UCI had set a tentative deadline of January 24 for responding, but noted that it might need more time. According to the Spanish website 20Minutos.es, the federation had not heard from the UCI as of Tuesday.
Under Spanish law, AS.com said, the RFEC must first publish a draft resolution, which would become final within ten days. The resolution is said to call for a one-year ban and the loss of the 2010 Tour de France title.
It was not clear whether the ban would be publicly announced on Thursday or only when it becomes final, somewhere between February 11 and 15.