- Article published:
- March 9, 2010, 19:08
- Kirsten Frattini
US National Racing Calendar shrinks by one
Organizers of the Richmond Twilight Grand Prix have postponed their event for one year to allow more time to secure sponsorship funding. Organizers will reschedule the event to return to the National Racing Calendar (NRC) event in 2011.
The event is formerly known as CapTech Classic, notorious for its challenging course situated in downtown Richmond, Virginia. The event was canceled four years ago but was scheduled to return this year as the Richmond Twilight Grand Prix on June 10 under the ownership of the CapTech Foundation and managed by 288 Sports Group.
"The postponement to 2011 has to do with management and sponsorship," said Tim Miller, CapTech Foundation's executive director. "We first started planning this event in June 2009. Unfortunately, the original management team that we had in place proved to be the wrong group of people."
"We reorganized in late September, but by that point we were really behind schedule, particularly with regard to sponsorship commitments," he added. "We had some very positive meetings, and there are several companies that want to support the event in a big way, but due to timing and budgets, that just couldn't make it work for 2010."
The criterium was initially schedule to take place on June 3 but was moved to June 10 due to scheduling conflicts before being postponed until 2011.
"When we submitted our date to USA Cycling, we did not realize that it would conflict with Tulsa Tough, and not align with several events on the East Coast," Miller said. "Rather than make teams choose one event or the other, I thought it would be best to move to a later date, also allowing us to align with Rob Layborn's event in [Air Force Cycling Classic] Arlington, and with Philadelphia International Cycling Championships."
Miller aims to bring the event back at the NRC level next year to attract the nation's top professional teams. Both Outdoor Life Network (now Versus TV) and Fox Sports Net have broadcast the event in the past, and organizers are planning for a Versus broadcast in 2011.
"We have a great Executive Committee in place, made up of business, community, and political leaders that are committed to making the event happen in 2011," Miller said. "The intent from the beginning has always been to develop a world-class event, with national TV coverage, a sizeable purse, VIP events, extensive marketing and PR, and numerous ancillary events. That is what we are planning for 2011. We are taking the blue print from the old CapTech Classic and building on it."
- Article published:
- March 9, 2010, 19:31
- Stephen Farrand
Tuscany more like Belgium for opening stages
A rare snowfall that blanketed much of the Mediterranean coast this week means Tirreno-Adriatico may start in near-arctic conditions in Tuscany on Wednesday. It's not expected to force the cancellation or shortening of any stages, however.
Despite the cold weather, the 148km stage from Livorno to Rosignano Solvay could still see some teams go on the attack to try immediately gain time on their rivals. Androni Giocattoli team manager Gianni Savio predicted the opening stage would be like a Belgian classic and smiled when asked about the possibility of team leader Michele Scarponi gaining time on his rivals even stage one.
The riders were understandably not so enthusiastic about racing in the terrible weather conditions. Organisers RCS Sport confirmed that the stage will start 15 minutes earlier than scheduled but insisted it will go on, whatever the weather.
"It's snowed today but didn't stick, while the weather forecast for Wednesday indicates it should get a little warmer and so the snow should change to rain," assistant race director Antonella Lena told Cyclingnews.
"The stage doesn't climb very high and so while the weather won't be good, there shouldn't be any problems. The weather was discussed in the meeting with directeur sportifs but at the moment there aren't any plans to reduce the stage in any way but that decision could be made during the race if the weather deteriorates."
Safety first for Saxo Bank but Garmin will be riding to win
Some teams are rightly worried about rider safety but others hinted they may try and take advantage of the bad conditions.
"I've spoken to Fabian (Cancellara) and Andy (Schleck) and for them it's more of a health issue than a safety issue. For me it's the other way around. I've got to think about their safety." Saxo Bank directeur sportif Bradley McGee told Cyclingnews.
"Some people might think bad weather will create some great racing but that's not true. We've got to race but safety is the first concern. Even if the riders think they have a pact, there will always be someone who will attack and so its up to the organizers to decide to shorten the stage if the weather gets too bad. Hopefully they'll make the right decision for everyone's good."
Garmin-Transitions directeur sportif Matt White was concerned about safety but made it clear that the US team will be riding to win with Tyler Farrar, whatever the conditions.
Farrar beat Mark Cavendish and Alessandro Petacchi in a sprint at last year's Tirreno-Adriatico. He will have a strong team to help him this year, with Julian Dean, Murillo Fischer, Robbie Hunter to lead him out. Martijn Maaskant, Johan Van Summeren, Matt Wilson and Ryder Hesjedal are also in the Garmin-Transitions line-up for Tirreno-Adriatico.
"Hopefully it'll warm up a bit and so get rid of the ice, but we'll got for it for sure," White told Cyclingnews.
"There are probably only three sprint finishes in this year's race and so we've got to try and take every opportunity. The only really flat stage is on the last day and so it's going to test the sprinters' condition and create some good racing."
White confirmed that Tyler Farrar has recovered after a crash on the dirt roads at Strade Bianche on Saturday.
"He's hurt his hand a little bit but he'll be fine. A guy actually got up out of a ditch and threw his bike into the road just as Tyler was going by. But he's good now."
- Article published:
- March 9, 2010, 20:20
- Stephen Farrand
Sanremo winner hopes to improve at Tirreno-Adriatico
Mark Cavendish is still trying to make up for the training he missed due to early-season dental problems, but will start Tirreno-Adriatico on Wednesday. The HTC-Columbia sprinter has made it clear he will ride Milan-Sanremo even if his form is not as good as it was in 2009 when he won the first Monument of the season on his very first attempt.
Cavendish was in the dentist chair again on Tuesday morning before traveling to Livorno for the pre-race press conference. He has recently had a full dental brace fitted and will wear it for a year to avoid any more problems and possible consequential muscle problems. It seems the pain and problems of the pre-season are in the past and he is confident his form is rapidly improving.
"I haven't got any more problems now. I'm just behind on my training and feel like I usually do at the end of January or early February training-wise. I can't expect too much after the problems I've had with my teeth but I've got to take it how it is," Cavendish told Cyclingnews.
"My form's not the same as last year but I don't think I'm too bad. I'm a lot behind but I still studied the Sanremo route on Sunday and Monday, riding the last 100km of the race. I can't say I can win it but I'll still give it a go this year.
"I was in super, super form last year and perhaps paid the consequences at the end of the year, so maybe it wasn't such a bad thing. Of course to start Milan-Sanremo, my favourite one-day race, with number one on my back, and not with the idea that I can win like last year, that's not nice.
"But there are going to be many more years when I can go for it and I've got other big objectives this year. I've got the green jersey to aim for and to win at the Tour and then the world championships to aim for. So it's going to be a long season."
Seven days of racing
Cavendish trained with his HTC-Columbia teammates Mark Renshaw and Bernard Eisel last week at his base in Quarrata, near Florence. He didn't finish the Strade Bianche race on Saturday but was pleased with how he felt in the hilly, dirt-road race.
Riding the seven-day Tirreno-Adriatico will be a vital block of intense racing that should boost Cavendish's form. He might not beat sprint rivals Tom Boonen, Alessandro Petacchi, Oscar Freire and Daniele Bennati but that is not his goal at the moment. He just hopes Tirreno-Adriatico will give him enough form to be competitive at Milan-Sanremo.
"I felt good in Eroica because I've done some good training in the last few weeks," he said optimistically.
"It's hard when it's raining everyday and there's no one to train with in Quarrata because the other guys all away racing or at a camp. That's why I got Mark Renshaw and Bernie Eisel to come down and we did some good k's. We recc'ied a couple of the Tirreno stages and then I went Eroica. I was actually surprised with my form and it was better than I thought it'd be.
"Now I'll get seven days of racing in and that will play a factor. You can do whatever you want in training but that sharpness only comes from racing. Tirreno is always the best preparation for Milan-Sanremo. Nine times out of ten the Sanremo winner has ridden Tirreno. It's a nice race, it's relaxed, good hotels, nice organization and nice people. It's always perfect for me.
"The first stage should be a sprint and then there should be another next Tuesday in San Benedetto del Tronto. For me, it's not really about the number of chances I get to do a sprint but about getting through it without going too deep and preparing for Milan-Sanremo. The hilly finishes make you go full gas and that's like the finale at Milan-Sanremo. That's perfect training. There's no pressure on me to get results here, it's all about preparing for Milan-Sanremo."
Whatever happens at Tirreno-Adriatico and Milan-Sanremo, Cavendish confirmed that he will ride the Volta a Catalunya and so will miss Ghent-Wevelgem.
"I'll go to Catalunya immediately after Milan-Sanremo and so I'll miss Ghent-Wevelgem. We haven't decided about the Tour of Flanders yet, we'll decide later but I'd like to ride it and I think I will."
- Article published:
- March 10, 2010, 06:45
- Jean-François Quénet
Spaniard assured of continuing in the race
The day after crashing towards the end of stage one at Paris-Nice, Alberto Contador wasn't exactly smiling in the morning but he indicated that he could continue racing.
"You have to put things into perspective," said Astana's general manager Yvon Sanquer prior to stage two. "There was a small loss yesterday; sometimes in Paris-Nice 17 seconds can be significant but what happened is also no catastrophe. I'm not saying everything is fine but in Mende on Thursday there will be a possibility for gaps to be created.
"Nothing is definite so far, neither in Alberto's favour, nor the opposite. I just hope the crash will be without any consequence."
Sanquer wasn't the only person to have noticed how nervous the Paris-Nice peloton is. "The 22 teams are highly motivated to perform," he explained. "Normally the organisers would limit the participation to 20 teams but it was a unique occasion to give exposure to the teams bidding for a wild card entry to the Tour de France. The selection process is in the air."
The Frenchman was satisfied with the teamwork at Astana so far. "The team has yet to find their marks," he added. "A group is in formation and works pretty well. We've never said we'd be 100 percent ready for Paris-Nice, we also never said we were a dream team but it's going well."
Upon reaching Limoges, Contador expressed his relief. "The day has been more or less as I expected," said the Spanish star. "I knew it would be a difficult day. I could not feel my natural pedalling style but I could save a long day and now I have to work with the
masseur to see if in two or three days I can be perfect."
The fear of being forced to pull out is behind him now. "I'm not going home as I passed today's test, which was the most important one. I've also been able to finish and I could ride in the front, so I'll continue Paris-Nice, that's for sure."
Due to its difficult parcours, Contador is also riding this race as training for the Tour. "We are doing very high average speed and there is a lot of tension throughout the entire stage. We must be in alert at all times, which is something we can also expect in July."
- Article published:
- March 10, 2010, 07:11
- Cycling News
Slovenian withdraws after crashing in France
Lampre-Farnese Vini rider Grega Bole was forced to withdraw from Paris-Nice after crashing during the second stage to Limoges, won by William Bonnet (Bouygues Telecom).
Despite falling quite heavily the Slovenian should have no lingering injuries from the accident. "No fracture or internal damage, but only a small pneumothorax that won't need to be drained," explained team doctor Matteo Beltemacchi.
Bole had started the day in 12th place on general classification after finishing second to Greg Henderson in stage one and it's likely the fall will sideline the sprinter for several weeks.
"Soon Grega will be authorised to leave the hospital in order to join the team in the hotel," added Beltemacchi. "Of course, he won't take part in the race, also because the pain caused by the bruises would not allow him to do so."
- Article published:
- March 10, 2010, 08:25
- Cycling News
Former ProTour rider keeps it local
Floyd Landis will compete for the Bahati Foundation in 2010 after the team announced its recent signing of the 34-year-old and US National Cyclocross Team rider Josh Berry.
Landis will serve two roles - as rider and ambassador for the Bahati Foundation, with the organisation aiming to 'support inner-city youth and garnering positive attention through his [Landis'] success on the bike'.
The move comes after Landis had made moves to join Rock Racing in an attempt to return to European racing given that Michael Ball's outfit received a Professional Continental licence. He only competed in the team's uniform once however, at the Tour of the Bahamas.
When it was recently revealed that Rock Racing wouldn't operate as a professional team in 2010, Landis made the switch to the team established by Bahati, another former Rock Racing rider who found himself without a place in the professional ranks thanks to downsizing conducted before the 2009 season.
Bahati's project has gained momentum as the NRC season approaches, in stark contrast to Ball's faltering efforts at continuing his team; Landis is a key signing for the squad with a benevolent mission.
Landis, meanwhile, was recently embroiled in new controversy involving his 2006 Tour de France performance and subsequent suspension for doping. This latest news could be seen as an encouraging step away from troubled times.
"Cycling has given me so many opportunities that I wouldn't otherwise have had, and I look forward to helping provide the same opportunities for less fortunate kids," said Landis.
He'll join the likes of former Toyota-United Pro and Fuji-Servetto rider Hilton Clarke, Jason Donald (ex-Garmin-Slipstream), plus experienced Australians Nathan O'Neill and Matt Rice.
The team's General Manager, Steve Owens, is optimistic about the signing from both the competitive and social perspectives. "We're confident in Floyd's commitment to being a powerful ambassador for the Bahati Foundation and supporting the team in winning marquee events like the Tour of California," he said.
- Article published:
- March 10, 2010, 08:54
- Jean-François Quénet
Slovakian phenomenon continues to impress in debut ProTour season
Liquigas-Doimo's Peter Sagan has continued his phenomenal introduction to the ProTour ranks with a second place finish behind William Bonnet (Bbox Bouygues Telecom) on the second stage of Paris-Nice, from Contre to Limoges.
Riding in just his second world calendar event, the 20-year-old Slovakian has already proven that he can ride fast in circuits, strongly in the hills, efficiently in time trial and be competitive in bunch sprints as well.
At the Santos Tour Down Under earlier this year, his ProTour debut, he accompanied Lance Armstrong (RadioShack) and Oscar Pereiro (Astana) in a breakaway during the Cancel Council Classic on the streets of Adelaide.
Later that week he positioned himself for a fourth place finish at the end of stage three in Stirling, behind Manuel Cardoso (Footon-Servetto), Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne) and Cadel Evans (BMC Racing Team).
Then, on the penultimate and hardest stage of the Australian race, he rode Armstrong off his wheel at Willunga Hill and took fifth place behind Luis Leon Sanchez (Caisse d'Epargne), Luke Roberts (Milram), Valverde and Evans.
Sagan has continued in a similar ilk this week at Paris-Nice. He finished fifth in the prologue and second on stage two, where he was narrowly out-sprinted by Bonnet on Tuesday afternoon. Despite missing the opportunity to emulate Liquigas teammate Franco Pellizotti's win in Limoges three years earlier, Sagan said he was happy with his performance.
"I’m happy with my level of racing here," the young Slovakian told Cyclingnews in the capital of the French porcelain. "I was particularly satisfied with my time in the prologue. It reminded me my good old days as a junior when we were often exposed to racing against the clock."
The versatile Sagan was exceptionally successful across a variety of disciplines during the 2008 Junior World Championship season. That year, he claimed the rainbow jersey for cross-country mountain biking, was second at the cyclo-cross championships and fourth at the equivalent road race. Despite this all-round pedigree, Sagan was not exactly known as a sprinter until the finish in Limoges.
"When my legs are good, I can sprint pretty well," he said. "Today I’m disappointed that I’ve missed my first pro win by only five centimetres. When I saw that there was nobody in front of me and the finishing line was just ahead, I gave everything starting from a long way out."
"It was close," emphasised Sagan's directeur sportif Mario Scirea. "It wasn’t a traditional bunch sprint. The last two kilometres were very special. Sagan’s role was to keep Francesco Chicchi towards the front, and then he happened to be out there alone. We aren’t surprised by what he does. We've known since the Tour Down Under what he’s able to do on a bike."
Despite having great form, Sagan doesn’t place his first pro win as the priority this week. "I’m here to help Roman Kreuziger to win Paris-Nice," he explained. Sagan has followed a similar path to that of his 'cultural neighbour' Kreuziger, the Czech rider having claimed his first significant result as a pro in Paris-Nice three years ago, also at the age of 20.
Kreuziger currently lies in fifth place overall, 15 seconds behind Lars Boom (Rabobank). The Dutchman's hold on the leader's jersey has seen Kreuziger wear the white jersey through the opening stages. However, the 23-year-old Liquigas rider will hope to trade up to yellow later this week.
- Article published:
- March 10, 2010, 09:09
- Susan Westemeyer
Former professionals aim to assure future of German stage-race
German women's race Thüringen Rundfahrt der Frauen is firmly in female hands, with former riders Vera Hohlfeld named the event's new Race Director and Franziska Rippin appointed to the role of Sport Director.
Hohlfeld, 38, was named earlier this year to take over from Nico Kleinert. She had served as Sport Director for the race for several years. "I'm excited by the task at hand, especially since I know that I can rely on a well-rehearsed and proven management team which has run the Thüringen Rundfahrt for many years and knows it inside out.
"Cycling has a long tradition in Thüringia, and the race has always been an excellent competition. In the future we will maintain and expand this reputation. The race is pure advertising for Thüringia.“
Hohlfeld rode professionally in the 1990s and early 2000s. She finished fourth in the women's road race at the Atlanta Olympics. She started the Thüringen race 12 times, winning seven stages and finishing second overall in 1996.
She will be joined on the race's management team by Franziska Rippin, who rode from 1995 to 2004. The 27-year-old rode the race three times, from 2001 to 2003. After retiring from riding, she served as Directeur Sportif for a junior team, and has worked with the Thüringen Rundfahrt since 2008.
Rippin took on the new assignment "because I want to give something back.“ When she herself rode the race, Rippin was impressed by the organisation and its many helpers, and said she now wants "to be able to offer the riders a race of the highest quality.“
Last year's edition of the race was won overall by Linda Villumsen (Team Columbia HTC Women), who finished 33 seconds ahead of Marianne Vos (DSB Bank - Nederland Bloeit) and a further seven seconds in front of Swede Susanne Ljungskog (Team Flexpoint).
The 23rd edition of the Internationale Thüringen Rundfahrt der Frauen is scheduled for July 20 to 25, 2010.