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First Edition Cycling News, Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Date published:
September 02, 2009, 1:00 BST
  • Chtioui to Acqua e Sapone, Gallopin Cofidis-bound

    Tunisian rider Rafaa Chtioui took silver at the 2004 junior world championships in Verona, Italy.
    Article published:
    September 02, 2009, 1:49 BST
    Les Clarke

    Promising young pair gets bite at the big time

    Italian Pro Continental team Acqua e Sapone has signed Tunisian rider Rafaa Chtioui next season whilst talented young Frenchman Tony Gallopin will ride for Cofidis for the next two seasons.

    L'Equipe reports that the silver medalist at the junior world championships in 2004 has penned a one-year deal, having ridden for the Continental Doha Team during 2008 and 2009.

    Much was expected of the 23-year-old who rose to prominence by finishing second to Czech star Roman Kreuziger at the world titles five years ago in Verona; physical similarities and a powerful riding style meant comparisons were made to Spanish legend Miguel Indurain, although nothing appeared to come of the hype and he has ridden in relative obscurity for the past few seasons.

    An opportunity with the team that boasts the likes of 2000 Giro d'Italia winner Stefano Garzelli and experiened sprinter Luca Paolini could be the stepping stone to bigger things for the affable Tunisian.

    This is in contrast to Gallopin, nephew of Astana directeur sportif Alain and a rider tipped for prominence from a young age. Still only 21 years old, he has spent the last two seasons riding for French Continental team Auber 93.

    The move to another French outfit, Cofidis, is a logical move for the man who won the U23 Paris-Tours last year and took third in the road race at the junior world championships in 2006.

  • Zirbel to ProTour in 2010

    Tom Zirbel (Bissell) flies by on his first lap.
    Article published:
    September 02, 2009, 8:01 BST
    Kirsten Frattini

    Garmin-Slipstream signs NRC rider

    Tom Zirbel has moved closer to his dream of participating in a Grand Tour after signing a contract with American-based International Cycling Union (UCI) ProTour team Garmin-Slipstream. He will join a slew of world-class time trial specialists and is looking forward to soaking up their expertise during his debut in Europe next year.

    “I’m looking forward to having all that knowledge base from a team like Garmin,” said Zirbel. “All those successful time trialists will hopefully give some knowledge and they will be looking to teach and mentor: that’s exciting. I know they offer such great support with the cutting edge of time trial technology, nutrition, a good service course in Girona and English speakers, which all make the transition to European racing easier for me.

    “I think they’ll help me take a big step up next year to improve my game,” he said. “I hope I can help them in any way possible.”

    Zirbel has displayed his ability with a triumph in nearly every domestic time trial over the last two seasons. He made a name for himself from top 10 finishes in the Tour of California time trials during the race’s 2008 and 2009 editions. He has proved competitive amongst riders like Levi Leipheimer (Astana), who he finished second to Tour of the Gila in April, followed by another second to David Zabriskie at the USPro time trial championships.

    His move to Garmin-Slipstream will likely see him transition from domestic leader to an eager learner and a domestique. When asked if there were some specific improvements he hopes to make before departing overseas he responded: “Yeah, how long have you got,” Zirbel laughed. “I’m looking forward to the hard races. I think I do better in races that are of attrition. So, staying in position is going to be key for me, try to accelerate with those guys is going to be an interesting challenge.”


  • Leipheimer pleased with Radio Shack deal

    Levi Leipheimer leads his Astana teammate Lance Armstrong across the finish line.
    Article published:
    September 02, 2009, 8:43 BST
    Kirsten Frattini

    American veterans target the Tour in 2010

    Levi Leipheimer has found the perfect fit with Lance Armstrong's recently announced American-based team RadioShack set to make its mark in 2010. The squad's Grand Tour direction matches Leipheimer's long-time vision of winning the Tour de France, something he aspires to achieve this year.

    When asked if he thinks that his 2010 goals will include winning the Tour de France, Leipheimer responded, "I definitely do."

    However, there is plenty of racing to conquer before next July and for Leipheimer, it will begin with capturing a fourth consecutive title at the Tour of California. The event's new date on the UCI calendar - in May rather than February - means that he will be able to enjoy the lap of luxury with an off-season this year.

    "My winter will be more relaxed, not as intense as it has been the last three years," Leipheimer said. "I've had to work hard, starting in November, but now I'll begin later, train and be serious but be less intense. I'll use races in the spring, smaller Spanish races like Castilla y Leon which are nice races, more safe and conservative; they don't have bad weather or nasty crashes."

    The second focus will be a victory at the Dauphiné Libéré in June before tackling his main objective of claiming the yellow jersey in July. "Those are my three most favorite races of all and having then all in a row will be great," he said.

    Leipheimer couldn't confirm whether the RadioShack team would take on ProTour status, assuring fans it would be the most appropriate step to take with the UCI. He acknowledged outfits like Cervélo TestTeam who have remained at the Professional Continental level and rely on a wild card status for invitations to ProTour level racing.

    "I know that as far as UCI is concerned they would rather have us be ProTour and Lance is willing to work with the UCI on that," he continued. "Someone like Lance brings a lot of attention to the races and brings a lot...

  • Greipel happy to win after crash-filled Vuelta stage

    André Greipel (Columbia-HTC) wins the Vuelta's stage four while his German teammates Bert Grabsch and Marcel Sieberg celebrate the victory.
    Article published:
    September 02, 2009, 11:30 BST
    Susan Westemeyer

    Columbia-HTC riders close to the top of general classification

    André Greipel of Team Columbia-HTC is used to winning mass sprints, but his victory in the Vuelta a España's fourth stage on Tuesday came from a group of just five riders. A massive crash two kilometres before the finish line took down much of the peloton, leaving only a handful of riders including Greipel and two of his own teammates to fight it out.

    "I heard a loud noise, turned around and saw only Wouter Weylandt on my rear wheel," Greipel told Cyclingnews on Wednesday morning. "I could only think how lucky I was [to have escaped the crash.]"

    He got away with teammates Marcel Sieberg and Bert Grabsch and three Quick Step riders. Grabsch and Sieberg set up the sprint for Greipel, who finished several bike lengths ahead of Weylandt. The other two Columbia riders finished third and fourth, respectively.

    Had World time trial champion Grabsch won the stage, he would have taken over the leader's gold jersey on time bonuses. He was in 13th place, 19 seconds down going into the stage. The 20 second bonus awarded to the stage victor would have put him one second ahead of leader Fabian Cancellara, who retained the leader's gold jersey after race commissares neutralised the time gaps opened as a result of the crash.

    "Looking back, we should have thought about taking the jersey for Bert," Greipel admitted. "He would have deserved it!"

    Grabsch has now moved up to third place, 11 seconds down, with Greipel right behind him in fourth, on the same time.

    Some observers have dismissed the stage results because of the circumstances, but the 27-year-old was happy with his victory. "I had imagined my first Vuelta stage win would come under other circumstances," he said. "But it was still a good feeling. I thought immediately about the riders who crashed and hoped that they weren't injured."

    Greipel has faced his own difficulties this season. He was out for four months in the Spring as he recovered...

  • Steegmans to join RadioShack next season

    Belgian Gert Steegmans joins Bruyneel and Armstrong's new RadioShack team
    Article published:
    September 02, 2009, 12:10 BST
    Susan Westemeyer

    Belgian Gert Steegmans joins Bruyneel and Armstrong's new team

    Belgian Gert Steegmans will join RadioShack in 2010, Johan Bruyneel confirmed to Belgian media. Steegmans, 28, should form part of the growing Spring Classics team.

    Steegmans left team Katusha in August after he refused to sign the team's anti-doping charter. He disagreed with the Russian team's demands that riders give five times their salary if caught doping.

    His last race with Katusha was the Critérium du Dauphiné Libéré stage race, June 14

    Bruyneel is currently team manager with Astana, home of Lance Armstrong and Tour de France winner Alberto Contador. Bruyneel will join Armstrong's newly formed American team, RadioShack, likely as team manager.

    Armstrong said July 23 American company RadioShack would sponsor the team for two years.

    Team RadioShack has also signed Levi Leipheimer, Sébastien Rosseler, Jose Luis Rubiera and Sergio Paulinho.

    Steegmans turned professional in 2003 with Lotto-Domo, and joined Quick Step in 2007. He rode there for two years before joining Katusha this year.

  • All aboard for Tasmanian tour

    Article published:
    September 02, 2009, 12:17 BST
    Cycling News

    Down Under race to start in ship’s cargo hold

    The Tour of Tasmania will start aboard a ship in 2009, with the 655 kilometre race commencing from inside the Spirit of Tasmania. The ship is designed to cross the Bass Straight, the body of ocean separating mainland Australia from the state of Tasmania.

    The Tour of Tasmania will embrace a record number of 10 municipalities in 2009. Tour Director John Craven said today the course was the toughest in the tour’s history.

    “It won’t be a race for the faint-hearted,” he said. “Tasmania is poised to embark on a feast of top-flight international cycling.”

    The 655km tour is expected to be contested by about 120 riders from all Australian states, New Zealand, England and the USA. The race will commence from inside the cargo hold on while docked at Devonport’s Mersey River on Wednesday, September 29.

    The tour will pass through the municipalities of Devonport, Kentish, Meander Valley, Burnie, Circular Head, Central Coast, Launceston, West Tamar, George Town and Dorset before finishing with a closed circuit criterium at the Village Green in Westbury on Sunday, October 4.

    The tour will be held two days after the inaugural Tas Gas 210km Launceston to New Norfolk Classic.

  • Worlds: Garzelli ready for Ballerini's call

    Stefano Garzelli (Acqua
    Article published:
    September 02, 2009, 12:30 BST
    Gregor Brown

    Italy's Stefano Garzelli wants invite from Ballerini to race Worlds on home course

    Italy's Stefano Garzelli wants to race with the national team at the World Championships on September 27. The course for this year's road race is just outside his front door in Mendrisio, Switzerland.

    National director Franco Ballerini has led the team to wins in the last three editions. He is currently following a series of lead-up races to help make his decision on 2009's nine-man team.

    "I think I've done enough in the last races, fighting for the win," Garzelli (Acqua e Sapone) told Cyclingnews. "It is always difficult to win nowadays."

    Garzelli won the mountain classification's maglia verde at the Giro d'Italia in May. Preparing for the Worlds, he finished second in Trofeo Melinda and 14th in Giro del Veneto in the last week.

    Ballerini will select his nine-man team (and two reserves) on September 14. He will likely lead the team with 2008 winner Alessandro Ballan and silver medallist Damiano Cunego. Giro del Veneto winner Filippo Pozzato, Ivan Basso and Garzelli are probable secondary captains.

    "Ballerini will have to decide my role depending on what type of team he wants to form. I think he could use me in the last kilometres to do anything," said Garzelli. "I am ready to have a great race, and do my work."

    This year's course in Mendrisio, Switzerland, will be harder than last year's 17.35-kilometre circuit in Varese, Italy. The circuit has two climbs, Acqua Fresca and Novazzano, in a short 13.8-kilometre circuit repeated 19 times.

    Garzelli lives half the year in Valencia, Spain, and half the year in Mendrisio's city centre. To preview the course it is enough that he opens his window.

    "It seems harder with respect to Varese," he said. "It is technical, 19 laps, up and down, right and left, there will be no time to breathe. Certainly, a lot of riders will lose their legs after 200 kilometres."

    Garzelli's first and only time to race the Worlds was in Verona, Italy...

  • Lelangue prepares BMC for 2010 Classics, Grand Tours

    George Hincapie to form part of BMC's Classics group
    Article published:
    September 02, 2009, 13:26 BST
    Gregor Brown

    John Lelangue prepares BMC for Classics push with Hincapie and Ballan

    BMC Racing is ready for the 2010 Classics and a shot at either the Giro d'Italia or Vuelta a España, said Team Director John Lelangue. The team announced yesterday that it had signed several important riders for the coming season, including World Champion Alessandro Ballan and US Champion George Hincapie.

    "If we come with names like George Hincapie, Karsten Kroon, Marcus Burghardt and Alessandro Ballan, then we are coming to compete for victory," Lelangue told Cyclingnews.

    Marcus Burghardt, Karsten Kroon, Steve Morabito, Michael Schär and Simon Zahner will also join for 2010, the team announced.

    Hincapie and Ballan both have multiple top-ten places in Ronde van Vlaanderen and Paris-Roubaix. In 2007, Ballan won Ronde and Burghardt won Gent-Wevelgem.

    BMC now has the team to win those one-day classics. It will target all Spring Classics from Het Volk through Amstel Gold, said Lelangue.

    "For me, as a Belgian, those races are important. We have been growing every year since we became Pro Continental. This was a year of confirmation, mostly in one-week stage racing. Next year, our third year, we wanted to grow in the Classics."

    The team raced the Dauphiné Libéré and Tour de Romandie this year, but Lelangue wants to race a Grand Tour in 2010. He wants to take his team to the Tour de France in the next two years, and the Giro d'Italia or Vuelta a España by next year.

    BMC is a second division team, or Professional Continental, based in Santa Rosa, California. It will have to rely on wildcard invitations to the top races since without a top division, or ProTour, licence.

    "We will not apply for a ProTour licence for 2010," said Lelangue. "We already had a lot of wildcard invites this year, in stage races and in classics. Besides, the ProTour teams also need wild card invites for many of the races, so nothing is certain."

    The team is now 85...