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First Edition Cycling News, Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Date published:
June 24, 2009, 1:00 BST
  • 'Non-active' status for Steegmans

    Gert Steegmans in Moscow for the Katusha presentation
    Article published:
    June 24, 2009, 5:20 BST
    Daniel Simms

    Belgian sprinter sanctioned but not suspended

    The drama surrounding Gert Steegmans and Katusha's anti-doping clause continues with the team's manager deeming his continuing stance worthy of sanction, with the Belgian rider now listed as 'non-active'. Team management stressed that he is not suspended, however.

    Sporza reports that Andrei Tchmil has stated Steegmans may no longer compete for Katusha if the saga continues and he has been left off the roster for today's Halle-Ingooigem one-day race.

    Having refused to sign the controversial anti-doping clause in his contract, which makes provision for the rider to pay up to five times his annual salary if he tests positive for banned substances, Katusha made threats not to select Steegmans for the Tour de France if he continued to remain 'defiant'. It seems his stance has proven costly.

    Katusha directeur sportif Jef Braeckevelt said the team was ordered to keep Steegmans. "It's a bad move by him if it's only our team he wouldn't sign the anti-doping charter for," said Braeckevelt.

    "The Katusha management has noted his attitude [in the matter] but he hasn't been suspended. We need him."

  • Porte hopeful of professional deal after Babygiro win

    Australia's Richie Porte (Bedogni/Grassi/Natalini/Gr.Praga) put in a winning ride during the time trial.
    Article published:
    June 24, 2009, 9:16 BST
    Greg Johnson

    Australian enjoying Italian racing experience

    Australia’s Richie Porte is hoping a string of solid results in Italy over recent months will lead to him turning professional in 2010. Porte claimed his biggest win to date at last week’s Girobio - Giro Ciclistico d'Italia, where he out-paced the world’s top Under 27 riders to win the stage five time trial.

    “I'm hoping my strong results of late will help me to move up into the professional ranks, to get good results makes the sacrifice of living so far from home worthwhile,” Porte told Cyclingnews. “I went into the Giro wanting to win a stage, but to be honest I didn't think I could match U23 World Champion Adriano Malori on such a flat course. To beat a guy with his credentials makes it even better.”

    Porte’s Babygiro success, which included two other top five stage finishes, follows a number of successes since leaving his Tasmanian home for Italy in February. Porte claimed a stage win and held the overall lead at Giro del Friuli, finished second at Trofeo Matteoti and third at Coppa della Pace.

    “My next major goal is Giro valle Cuneesi in August where I will target classification,” he said. “There is still plenty of racing before I return home in October, so I hope to build on my results I have gained so far this season.”

    Porte was delighted Bedogni/Grassi/Natalini/Gr.Praga sport director Andrea Tafi was following in the team car during his Giro victory. Tafi has provided the 24-year-old with vital support throughout his stint in Italy.

    “He is a guy who has so much belief in me and having him there really helped me dig a little deeper,” said Porte.

  • Gerrans gets Tour snub from Cervélo

    Stage winner Simon Gerrans (Cervelo)
    Article published:
    June 24, 2009, 9:34 BST
    Daniel Simms

    Giro, Tour stage winner to spend Tour at home

    Australia’s Simon Gerrans will miss this year’s Tour de France after failing to be selected by Cervélo TestTeam officials ahead of the Grand Tour. Gerrans was one of Cervélo’s top performers at last month’s Giro d’Italia, where he added a second career Grand Tour stage win on Stage 15 in Prato Nevoso.

    “Well I just got a call from my sport director,” wrote Gerrans on his Twitter. “I'm still digesting the news I didn't make the tour team. I'm pretty disappointed.”

    Gerrans shared a bottle of wine with Team Columbia-Highroad rival Mark Renshaw after hearing the news. The sprinter was equally shocked at Gerrans snub.

    “What is wrong with the world these days,” wrote Renshaw. “My best mate Simon Gerrans just found out he is staying at home this July = no tour!”

    Cervélo is yet to make an announcement on who has made its final cut for the Tour team, which will almost certainly be led by defending champion Carlos Sastre.

    Gerrans had spent the previous day in team time trial training with his Cervélo team-mates at Buochs Airport in Switzerland. Gerrans had just returned from a stint in Aspen, United States of America, where he had been training with Astana riders Lance Armstrong and Levi Leipheimer.

    Gerrans has enjoyed a strong opening to his 2009 season, with top 10 finishes at Amstel Gold Race, Waalse Pijl and Liège-Bastogne-Liège in the lead up to his Giro Stage 14 win in Bologna.

    Only three other Australian riders have achieved stage victories in both the Tour de France and Giro d’Italia – Robbie McEwen, Phil Anderson and Bradley McGee.

  • Dean first confirmed in Garmin’s Tour roster

    Julian Dean will start his fifth Tour de France in 2009 as lead out man.
    Article published:
    June 24, 2009, 10:51 BST
    Daniel Simms

    Kiwi ready for lead-out role in fifth Tour

    New Zealand’s Julian Dean is the first confirmed rider in Garmin-Slipstream’s roster for next month’s Tour de France. Dean will act as lead-out man for Tyler Farrar, who is also expected to be announced in the squad’s lineup.

    “He is the only rider to have beaten Mark Cavendish this year although it’s only been once from 15 sprints against him,” said Dean. “I was pretty confident of making the team for the Tour but it’s always good to get that call.”

    Dean said his Garmin-Slipstream team is stronger than last year and is getting used to the team lead-out approach for sprinter Farrar, rather than the solo approach he had employed in his years with Crédit Agricole.

    “The train system is probably better overall but it is more difficult because everyone in the train has to do their job perfectly,” said Dean. “If one does not do it right, then it wrecks the whole train. We worked hard on it during the Giro and it is getter better.

    “As we always know with the Tour de France, anything can happen to anyone at anytime, so hopefully I will be able to take my chances if they present themselves."

    This year’s Tour de France will be Dean’s fifth, his second since joining Garmin-Slipstream. Dean expects the winner in Monaco on July four to hold the race’s yellow jersey for an unusually long time, due to the layout of this year’s course.

    “It is going to be quite strange,” he said. “Whoever wins the opening time trial, which is likely to be Fabian Cancellara in his current form, will likely hold it until we get into Andorra.”

    Garmin-Slipstream is expected to announce its full Tour de France roster later today.

  • McEwen aims for second-half revival

    Robbie McEwen after January's Down Under Classic, before misfortune and consequent injury hit his season.
    Article published:
    June 24, 2009, 12:21 BST
    Les Clarke

    No plans to slow down for experienced Australian

    Injury has plagued Robbie McEwen in 2009 and the Australian has been sidelined through injury for a significant part of the season thus far. With a comeback date announced, Katusha's experienced sprinter has his sights firmly set on racing the second half of this season and through 2010 while remaining philosophical about missing the second Grand Tour of the year, the Tour de France.

    McEwen would have been in the running for a 13th Tour de France stage win - the highest tally for any current rider - had he been riding the event. It's a stage victory that also eluded him last season. It will have to wait for another year, albeit for a different reason. "I just try and put it behind me," McEwen told Cyclingnews. "Even though the Tour's still ahead, I'm already trying to put it behind me because I know for a fact that I won't be there... So I guess the fact of dealing with not winning a stage at this year's Tour is a little bit easier in a way because I'm not even there.

    "It's really something out of my control. It was frustrating not to win a stage last year; I was riding well but it just wasn't happening... I was completely on my own against well organised teams. It doesn't matter how good you're going, it makes it bloody hard," he explained.

    McEwen suffered a broken leg in an accident during stage two of the Tour of Belgium, his return to racing after being forced to miss the Giro d'Italia through injuries sustained in a crash during the Scheldeprijs Vlaanderen. A speedy recovery from his most serious accident has illustrated the meticulous approach and steely resolve he is renowned for.

    The Australian explained his rehabilitation process, which actively began just nine days after the fall. "After nine days I got onto the exercise bike at home - like one of those in a rehabilitation clinic. For two or three days I did 15 or 20 minutes at a time; not much, just to see if I could do it," said McEwen. "That worked out. Three...