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First Edition Cycling News, Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Date published:
January 27, 2010, 0:00 GMT
  • Opinion: Spanish cycling teetering once again

    Alejandro Valverde discusses strategy with a Spanish teammate.
    Article published:
    January 26, 2010, 21:31 GMT
    Peter Cossins

    Fewer Spanish teams after globalization, doping scandals

    The news that French savings bank Caisse d'Epargne is set to end its sponsorship of what has long been Spain's premier cycling team is only the latest of many blows the sport has suffered in what has always been one of its traditional strongholds.

    A glance through this year's calendar reveals huge gaps between events in Spain, most notably in the very heart of the season when there will be nothing to get excited about between late May's Tour of Asturias and mid-July's Tour of Madrid. And, let's face it, those two are races that will get hardly anyone revved up beyond Spain's smaller teams.

    Except there aren't any of these smaller teams either. As well as being hit at the top level, Spain is also struggling in the Pro Continental layer. There are now just two Spanish outfits at each of these levels when not too many years ago, there would probably have been eight or 10. Drop another level down to Continental status, and it's even worse, with just Orbea, located in Basque, flying the Spanish flag.

    The reasons for this rapid demise are not too difficult to see. The scandals caused by the uncovering of two huge doping rings have played a huge part, wrecking the careers of several notable Spanish performers, leaving question marks hanging over many others and impacting massively on cycling’s traditional popularity. Add in the crushing dominance of football of the Spanish sporting scene and the rise of several other sports in Spanish sporting consciousness - including tennis, Formula 1, motor-racing and, increasingly, NBA basketball - and cycling is very much on the decline.

    At the same time, it does seem there's something else more fundamental going on in cycling, as was suggested by UCI president Pat McQuaid during last week's Tour Down Under. The "mondialisation" of the sport that was the goal of McQuaid's predecessor, Hein Verbruggen, is now very much under way. ProTour races are not only taking place outside Europe, but are...

  • Gallery: Skil-Shimano prepares for 2010

    The Skil-Shimano boys enjoy some Spanish sunshine.
    Article published:
    January 27, 2010, 1:39 GMT
    Cycling News

    Dutch squad gathers in Spain to train

    Skil-Shimano recently prepared for the season ahead in Majorca, Spain, joining the long list of pro teams that use this island off the Iberian Peninsula for training.

    Following the team's presentation in Rotterdam, The Netherlands, last week, riders made the most of increasing sunshine in southern Europe to pack in the miles before they head to the first race of the season, the Grand Prix Cycliste la Marseillaise, on January 31.

    Whilst conditions in Rotterdam were foggy and cold, Majorca meant smiles all round for riders as the deep freeze of central Europe was forgotten, reflected in the antics of Bert De Backer (pictured below).

    The team has strengthened its roster for 2010, with the addition of six recruits, including Belgian rider Dominique Cornu from Omega Pharma-Lotto and Yann Huguet from Agritubel. Its hopeful of another invitation to the Tour de France this year, with the Grand Depart taking place in the same city in which the squad was presented.

    Belgium rider Bert De Backer shows us how it's done.Australian rider Mitchell Docker does a strength effort.

    Kenny van Hummel manages to pick out the camera...

  • Ag2R La Mondiale presented in Paris

    Riders and staff pose at Ag2R La Mondiale headquarters.
    Article published:
    January 27, 2010, 2:31 GMT
    Cycling News

    Optimism the key for ambitious French team

    Having recently completed its first ProTour race of 2010, the Santos Tour Down Under, French team Ag2R La Mondiale presented its squad at the company's headquarters in Paris.

    Boasting riders such as Nicolas Roche, Martin Elmiger, Rinaldo Noncentini and French national champion Dimitri Champion in its lineup, the team is aiming to build upon a successful 2009 campaign, which saw Noncentini wear the maillot jaune and Nicolas Roche [pictured below] enjoy a breakout performance at the Tour de France.

    These four team members will be responsible for results in the Classics and grand tours, whilst management will turn to strong riders such as David Lelay, Tadej Valjavec and the experienced Sebastien Hinault to provide ample support to its bigger names.

    The team's next race is the traditional French season opener, Grand Prix La Marseillaise, where the squad will be lead by Champion, with Le Lay, Guillaume Bonnafond, Hubert Dupont, Julien Loubet, Lloyd Mondory, Maxime Bouet and René Mandri also on the race roster.

    Irish national champion Nicolas Roche.Dimitri Champion and Christophe Riblon look a little serious.

    Roche, Nocentini and Champion front the team photo.

  • Goss to help HTC-Columbia train stay on track

    2010 Columbia-HTC addition Matt Goss will be Cavendish's final lead-out man while Renshaw recovers from illness.
    Article published:
    January 27, 2010, 6:32 GMT
    Les Clarke

    Australian addition aids in Classics and grand tour campaigns

    Last year's Paris-Brussels champion Matt Goss is one of the key additions to HTC-Columbia's sprint train in 2010 following the departure of some big names and he's relishing his new role plus the possibility of being a spearhead for the team's Classics campaign.

    The 23-year-old from Launceston, Tasmania, whose ability on the road is comparable to another Australian, Stuart O'Grady, thanks to his track background and speed in a sprint finish, left O'Grady's team at the end of last season, having spent three seasons at Bjarne Riis' squad.

    He was first seriously noticed in Europe whilst riding the 2006 Tour of Britain for the team, taking a stage victory for the Australian Institute of Sport squad on the first day in tough conditions - an indication of his strength and talent. Management at HTC-Columbia also recognised these qualities and agreed to sign him as a part of the team's train.

    "I started speaking to these guys pretty early in the season - during the Classics last year - and we kept in contact during the Classics and the Giro, then we went from there," Goss told Cyclingnews.

    It's easy to see why HTC-Columbia wanted him - Goss enjoyed a stellar season in 2009, with third in Ghent-Wevelgem coming ahead of fifth place in stage six of the Giro d'Italia and fourth place in stage nine of the same event. Then it was time for two stage wins at the Tour de la Région Wallonne against the likes of Classics star Philippe Gilbert, teammate Juan José Haedo, Wouter Weylandts, Juergen Roelandts and fancied British sprinter Ben Swift.

    The biggest highlight came with victory in Paris-Brussels however, his win in the race won five times by compatriot Robbie McEwen the perfect end to a three-year stint at CSC/Saxo Bank.

    "The ride with Columbia-HTC was already organised by Paris-Brussels, which was pretty lucky. To finish the season with a win was a good way to leave the team. I...

  • ISD-Neri confirmed for Tour de Langkawi

    The 2010 ISD-Neri team
    Article published:
    January 27, 2010, 10:00 GMT
    Richard Tyler

    Organisers of Malaysian tour announce first 14 teams for 2010 edition

    Organisers of the 2010 Tour de Langkawi have announced Italian Professional Continental team ISD-Neri as one of the first fourteen squads confirmed to compete in the fifteenth edition of the race, March 1-7.

    Making their second appearance in the event, ISD-Neri will be joined by 10 other professional teams, as well as national federation line-ups from South Africa, Kazakhstan and host nation Malaysia. The field will eventually comprise 20 teams, with race organisers to announce the final six squads in the coming weeks. Secretary General of the Malaysian Sports Ministry, Datuk Mohd Yasin Mohd Salleh, expressed his confidence that the Tour would provide the participant teams with a strong platform for their respective seasons.

    "We believe that ISD-Neri will be more competitive after experiencing the hardships of racing under extreme hot and humid weather in Malaysia," he said. "We have identified other teams' application [to take part] and will decide the remaining teams that will compete in the Tour soon."

    Alongside 6-rider rosters from ISD-Neri, South Africa, Kazakhstan and Malaysia will be Continental teams Drapac Porsche (Australia), Tabriz Petrochemical Cycling Team (Iran), Seoul Cycling (South Korea), Marco Polo Cycling Team (China), Aisan Racing Team (Japan), Max Success Sport Racing Team (China), Geumsan Ginseng Asia (South Korea), Azad University (Iran), Giant Asia Racing Team (Taiwan) and LeTua Cycling Team (Malaysia).

    While squads such as Tabriz and LeTua have appeared at the Tour before, several new Asian-based teams will make their debuts this season. Organisers are hopeful that these squads will continue the traditionally attacking style teams from the Asian region have displayed in past editions.

    "We welcome new teams from China, Max Success Sport and Geumsan Ginseng Asia from South Korea appearing for the first time in Malaysia and at the Tour de Langkawi. We are confident with the presence of these teams,...

  • UCI and WADA to conduct Tour de France tests?

    Christian Prudhomme announces the 2010 route.
    Article published:
    January 27, 2010, 11:31 GMT
    Richard Tyler

    Prudhomme says UCI responsible for stringent drug controls at 2010 Tour

    In the wake of the split between the International Cycling Union (UCI) and the French anti-doping agency (AFLD), Tour de France Director Christian Prudhomme has called on the sport's governing body to ensure continuity of testing at the 2010 Tour, with the World anti-doping agency (WADA) a possible replacement for the AFLD.

    According to French daily L'Equipe, Prudhomme said it was up to the UCI to ensure that the AFLD is replaced with an anti-doping body that will ensure stringent testing procedures at this year's edition of the race.

    Though accepting that anti-doping at the Tour de France is the UCI's responsibility, Prudhomme suggested that WADA could be a candidate for that role.

    "WADA may play this role but it is not up to us to decide," Prudhomme said on Tuesday. "As in all sports, the responsibility for controls rests with [the international federation]."

    A partnership between the UCI and AFLD to carry out testing on French soil fell into disarray last year amid accusations from both sides of inadequacies in each other's testing procedures. The net result of the war of words was a declaration late last year from UCI President Pat McQuaid that his organisation would no longer work with the AFLD and, in particular, at the Tour de France.

    McQuaid last week confirmed to Reuters that the UCI had been in contact with WADA over the possibility of a partnership being formed with the global anti-doping agency for testing at the Tour de France.

    "In July, the UCI will carry out the tests and we are in discussion with WADA so that it sends its observers to supervise the UCI's work during the race," said McQuaid, who was in Australia for the Tour Down Under. "The Tour de France is the biggest cycling event in the world and we want to preserve it."

    While not weighing into the debate between the UCI and AFLD, Prudhomme said an independent testing organisation must be found in order to protect the...

  • Vacansoleil name strong team for European season opener

    Brothers Brice and Romain Feillu (Vacansoleil)
    Article published:
    January 27, 2010, 13:11 GMT
    Richard Tyler

    Hoogerland, Bozic and Feillus headline Dutch team's line up for GP de la Marseillaise

    Vacansoleil has named a strong eight-rider line-up for Sunday’s Grand Prix Cycliste la Marseillaise, the team’s first race of the 2010 season.

    The Dutch Professional Continental team will include the team's most successful riders of last season: Dutchman Johnny Hoogerland and Slovenian Borut Bozic.

    French brothers Brice and Romain Feillu will also take part in the event and make their debut for the Vacansoleil on home soil. With Brice a winner of a stage at last year's Tour de France, the team will be hoping the duo's presence in the team will enhance their chances of a wild card invitation to the 2010 Tour de France.

    Vacansoleil's full line up for the Grand Prix Cycliste la Marseillaise will be: Borut Bozic (Slovenia) Brice Feillu, Romain Feillu (France), Marco Marcato (Italy), Frederik Veuchelen, Björn Leukemans (Belgium), Johnny Hoogerland and Lieuwe Westra (The Netherlands).

    The Grand Prix Cycliste la Marseillaise will take place this Sunday, January 31. Vacansoleil will then continue their season in France at the Etoile de Bessèges, February 3-7.


  • Bruyneel reveals RadioShack Tour de France long-list

    Lance Armstrong trades turns with his RadioShack teammates
    Article published:
    January 27, 2010, 13:13 GMT
    Stephen Farrand

    Armstrong, Leipheimer, Klöden and Zubeldia named in 14-rider squad

    Team RadioShack manager Johan Bruyneel has revealed the names of 14 riders currently on the line for selection for this year’s Tour de France.

    The new US-registered ProTour team includes some of the strongest stage race riders in the peloton, and Lance Armstrong, Levi Leipheimer, Andreas Klöden and Haimar Zubeldia are all named in the Bruyneel’s long-list according to Spanish website

    Also in the list is sprinter Gert Steegmans, Chris Horner, Janez Brajkovic, Jason McCartney, Yaroslav Popovych, Grégory Rast, Dmitriy Muravyev, Sérgio Paulinho, Sébastien Rosseler and Tomas Vaitkus.

    Neither South African Daryl Impey nor three-time Tour rider, Frenchman Geoffroy Lequatre, were named in the selection.

    The final line-up for the Tour de France will be decided in June.

    According to, Armstrong has to still decide between the Dauphiné Libéré or the Tour de Suisse as his final build-up race before the Tour de France.

    He will make his European debut at the Vuelta a Murcia (March 3-7) and then possibly ride Milan-San Remo (March 20) before Critérium International (March 27-28), Ronde van Vlaanderen (April 4), the Amstel Gold Race (April 18), Liège-Bastogne-Liège (April 25) and then the Tour of California (May 16-23).

    No Giro d’Italia?

    Bruyneel admitted to that he still does not know if Team RadioShack will be invited to this year’s Giro d’Italia.

    Armstrong rode the Italian stage race for the first time in his career in 2009 but will target the Tour of California in May 2010.

    Bruyneel looked to appease race director Angelo Zomegnan by suggesting that Armstrong could ride Milan-Sanremo - a race also organised by Giro organiser RCS - if the team is invited to the Grand Tour.

    “It’s not yet...