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First Edition Cycling News, Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Date published:
July 25, 2012, 1:00 BST
  • Van Avermaet to skip Vuelta a Espana

    Greg Van Avermaet (BMC)
    Article published:
    July 24, 2012, 12:06 BST
    By:
    Cycling News

    BMC rider will focus on one-day races as build-up to Worlds

    Greg Van Avermaet will skip the Vuelta a Espana this year, saying it is probably too challenging. After the 2012 London Olympics and the Eneco Tour, the BMC rider will look to a series of one-day races before hopefully heading to the World Championships in Valkenburg, Netherlands.

    "I came to the conclusion that it is better not to ride the Vuelta a Espana in preparation for the Worlds. The Vuelta this year is very hard and there are only two stages where I would have the chance for a victory,” he told Het Nieuwsblad.

    “Therefore I prefer a program of one-day races. First on my program is still the Eneco Tour. Afterwards follow San Sebastian, Plouay, Hamburg, Quebec and Montreal.  I want to play it safe for the World Championships in Valkenburg. Too hard of a Vuelta would do me more harm than good.”

    Van Avermaet rode the first three stages of the Tour de Wallonie before leaving for London on Tuesday, and he feels best prepared for the Olympics. "The Tour of Poland was ideal. On the toughest stage I finished fourth. Afterwards I could recover in a few days to ride for three days in Wallonie,” he said. “I'm ready to go to London to defend the Belgian interests.”

    He also disclosed the Belgian plan to win the gold medal in the road race – sending a Belgian in every escape group. If they keep the pace high enough, they can drop “guys like Cavendish, Greipel and Sagan and hopefully it won't come to a mass sprint. Because with a Belgian in the lead group, any one of us can take it.”

    Skipping the Vuelta will mean that Van Avermaet will not have ridden a Grand Tour this year. He has also not had a win all season, but several top five finishes in the spring, finishing just off the...

  • Chavanel confirmed for Olympics

    Sylvain Chavanel (Omega Pharma - Quick Step)
    Article published:
    July 24, 2012, 13:12 BST
    By:
    Cycling News

    French team leader recovered in time for London road race and time trial

    The French national team will not miss its leader, Sylvain Chavanel, at the London Olympics. Chavanel has been confirmed to line up in both the road race on Saturday and the time trial on August 1. Having had to abandon the Tour de France with one week to go due to bronchitis, the 33-year-old was happy to announce that he had recovered from his illness and was back in the game in time for the Olympics.

    "I was very scared for two or three days after having dropped out of the race," the Frenchman told L'Equipe. "It seemed like personal failure to me."

    But the French national time trial champion has been able to train normally again since last Friday, and should be back in the same good shape that saw him take to the forefront of some of the early Tour stages a fortnight ago.

    "I never thought of replacing him," commented national team selector Laurent Jalabert on the matter, despite Thomas Voeckler's spectacular two stage victories in the second half of the Tour. "I always trust the riders, and as Sylvain assured me that he is competitive again, I believe in him. I'm certain that he will height of the event."

    Chavanel will lead the French selection in the road race on Saturday, but the three-man team of sprinter Arnaud Démare, Tony Gallopin and himself cannot be considered a serious threat to some of the better-represented outfits. The Frenchman's main goal is an Olympic medal at the event's time trial next week. At the Tour de France's first time trial in Besançon, the Omega Pharma-QuickStep rider finished fifth behind the later overall winner Bradley Wiggins (Sky).
     

  • Royal greetings for Wiggins

    Bradley Wiggins (Sky) has made history as the first British Tour de France champion.
    Article published:
    July 24, 2012, 15:36 BST
    By:
    Cycling News

    Queen congratulates first British rider to win Tour de France

    Bradley Wiggins' feat in winning the Tour de France has been recognized by the Queen of England. Queen Elizabeth II has congratulated him, Team Sky announced on its website.

    "I send you my warmest congratulations on becoming the first British cyclist ever to win the Tour de France,” the Queen said in a message released on Tuesday.

    "Your historic achievement of claiming overall victory in this prestigious event is a great testament to the efforts of you and your teammates."

    Wiggins' next race, the men's road race in the London Olympics, also has a royal connection.  Not only does it pass Buckingham Palace, the Prince of Wales and his wife the Duchess of Cornwall will be at the start of the race.

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  • Gilbert at Olympic Games with ambitions

    Philippe Gilbert (BMC) was welcomed by his home crowds
    Article published:
    July 24, 2012, 18:19 BST
    By:
    Hedwig Kröner

    Belgian assures that he is back on an interesting level

    Philippe Gilbert's lack of success this year may still be a mystery to some given the superiority the Belgian showed last season, but the BMC rider has insisted that he is back on track for the second half of the season and his two big objectives: the London Olympics and the World Championships in Valkenburg, Netherlands.

    Having raced the Tour de France as a domestique for Cadel Evans and Tejay Van Garderen, Gilbert didn't get much freedom to go for his own chances, but this may have been beneficial in view of his recent level of form.

    "The Tour was very difficult, but I also worked a lot for Van Garderen and Evans. When you have to protect them from the wind every day, it does take up a lot of energy, which is why I haven't been much at the front in the stage finishes. But that was my role at this Tour," he told Cyclingnews after three weeks of racing, admitting that the team's result at the race this year hasn't been what they had hoped for.

    "There is of course a small feeling of disappointment at BMC, but I think we can still be happy with the race's outcome. We haven't won a stage and we missed out on the top three of GC, but we still got onto the podium in Paris [with Van Garderen taking the white jersey - ed.]. But Sky was just on another level," he explained.

    Gilbert's best chance for a stage victory came on stage 14 to Foix, as he had been part of the breakaway which led Rabobank's Luis Leon Sanchez to the win. But the 30-year-old was still happy with his shape in view of the London Olympics, where he will be racing the road event as well as the time trial.

    "I feel really well, actually....

  • Martin aims for Olympic time trial podium

    World champion Tony Martin (Omega Pharma-Quickstep) gets ready to take off for the prologue
    Article published:
    July 24, 2012, 21:48 BST
    By:
    Cycling News

    German sees Wiggins as favourite for gold medal

    Tony Martin (Omega Pharma-Quickstep) has his sights set on a medal in the 2012 London Olympics time trial. While Martin says that “gold is definitely possible,” he sees Tour de France winner Bradley Wiggins (Sky) as the top favourite.

    The German is still recovering from a broken bone in his hand, which happened in a crash in the Tour's first stage. He stayed in the race, suffering through the stage 9 time trial and then abandoned on the rest day.

    Martin has been able to train well since then, even if the pain is still there. “It is still torture, but possible,” he told sport.t-online.de. He doesn't expect it to be a major obstacle. "When I'm on the start ramp, I will surely have other things in my head other than my hand. The injury won't really hold me back."

    Now he is on his way to London, where he will ride both the road race and the time trial, with his eye on the latter. "Gold is possible," he said, but "it would be presumptuous to look only for gold. The podium is my primary goal."

    Another obstacle to the gold medal is Wiggins. "He was so super humanly strong in the Tour de France. I think that he will also triumph in London."

    Martin's next chance at a title comes mid-September at the World Championships in Valkenburg, Netherlands. "I want to defend my title there."

  • Kessiakoff still in negotiations with Astana

    Fredrik Kessiakoff (Astana) tried to get the mountains jersey
    Article published:
    July 25, 2012, 1:09 BST
    By:
    Cycling News

    Swede denies media reports that he's extended his current contract

    Fredrick Kessiakoff has denied media reports that he has extended his current contract with Astana.

    The Swede's contract expires at the end of the year and the runner-up in the Tour's mountains classification is proving attractive to several other teams.

    Spanish website Bicicciclismo reported that the 32-year-old had re-signed with Astana however, the rider has refuted the claim.

    "I am well advanced in negotiations with Astana, but still no written contract," Kessiakoff told Eurosport.se.

    Saxo Bank-Tinkoff is also believed to be interested in his services.

    Kessiakoff enjoyed a gallant performance in his Tour de France debut this month, wearing the polka dot jersey on seven stages in a
    fierce battle with Frenchman Thomas Voeckler. He earned the red dossard of most combative rider on Stage 8. When his rival secured the mountains classification on Stage 16, Kessiakoff had nothing but praise for Voeckler.

    "I'm really disappointed to have lost the jersey but if you look at the way Voeckler took it from me, I could do nothing," Kessiakoff told Cyclingnews at the finish.

    "He had a superb race and it seemed like he must have taken every point that it was possible to take today. It didn't matter whether I was feeling good or not - the way he did it, it was just 'chapeau'."

     

  • Vansummeren fractured vertebra in diabolical Metz crash

    Johan Vansummeren (Garmin-Sharp) is assisted after crashing on stage 6.
    Article published:
    July 25, 2012, 5:13 BST
    By:
    Cycling News

    Belgian continues to race through injury

    It's been revealed that Johan Vansummeren completed the Tour de France while suffering from a cracked vertebra.

    Much of the Garmin-Sharp team crashed on the stage to Metz on July 6 with Cyclingnews reporting at the time that the team bus resembled a "hospital". A huge crash 25 kilometres from the finish line left riders scattered all over the road. Teammates Ryder Hesjedal, Christian Vande Velde and Daniel Martin eventually finishing more than 13 minutes after stage winner Peter Sagan (Liquigas-Cannondale) had crossed the line, with Vansummeren a further three minutes behind.

    Vansummeren was taken to hospital for an injured shoulder at the time but further examinations on Tuesday have concluded that the Belgian's condition was far worse than originally thought.

    Despite the injury, the 31-year-old winner of Paris-Roubaix lined up in the post-Tour criterium in Roeselare.

    "I have to maintain condition and I've also finished the Tour despite the injury," Vansummeren told nieuwsblad.be.

    A little longer gritting my teeth will not hurt. The next thing on my agenda is the Vuelta a Espana. Bit by bit I must now recover from my injury and hope to be there when the Vuelta begins with the team time trial in Pamplona on 18 August."

     

  • Hesjedal's maglia rosa auction sends Ramsden to London

    Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Barracuda) became the first Canadian to wear the maglia rosa.
    Article published:
    July 25, 2012, 6:31 BST
    By:
    Cycling News

    Giro d'Italia winner gives back to Olympic charity

    Ryder Hesjedal has given something back to Canadian cycling with proceeds from his maglia rosa auction funding Denise Ramsden's Olympic Games.

    CAN Fund has raised millions of dollars for Canadian athletes attempting to reach the summer and winter Olympic Games since it began in 1997. Hesjedal benefitted from the program in 2004 when he competed in mountain biking and when he learned that seven cyclists were on the waiting list in 2012, decided to pay it forward.

    Auctioning off the maglia rosa he earned on Stage 7 of the Giro d'Italia earlier this year, the first ever by a Canadian, Hesjedal raised $10,300. Half of the proceeds went directly to Ramsden who will be making her Olympic debut in the women's road race. The remainder of the money raised went to Hesjedal's own charity, Ryder's Cycling Society of Canada.

    "It was really cool," Ramsden said in a release sent out by CAN Fund on Tuesday. She will be joined in the road race by Clara Hughes and Joelle Numainville.

    "I saw that he was auctioning off his pink jersey and proceeds were going to CAN Fund, even before I knew it was even involving me, and I thought it was great that he was doing that and giving back to Canadian athletes. Then when I found out I was the recipient I was very excited and happy. What he's doing is fantastic. I'm very grateful that other people will get a chance to benefit from RCSC going forward as well."

    Ramsden received an additional $1000 from CAN Fund so is supported to the tune of $6000.

    "I am very pleased to be able to give back to the cycling community and in particular support an up and coming female rider such as Denise," Hesjedal said.

    "I want cycling to continue to grow in Canada and I can't think of any better way than to support...