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First Edition Cycling News, Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Date published:
September 07, 2011, 1:00 BST
  • Protesters attempt to block Giro di Padania route

    The Giro di Padania route was unveiled today in Milan.
    Article published:
    September 06, 2011, 17:18 BST
    Barry Ryan

    Demonstrations mar opening stage

    The inaugural Giro di Padania got off to a turbulent start on Tuesday, when protesters attempted to block the race at Mondovì. The incident followed an earlier demonstration at the start in Paesana, while road signs related to the race had been removed overnight.

    La Repubblica and Gazzetta dello Sport report that protesters from the Rifondazione Comunista party and trade union movement CGIL (Italian General Confederation of Labour) sat on the road at Mondovì to halt the race’s passage. The route of the race had already been diverted from the centre of the town in order to reduce the possibility of it being interrupted by protests.

    The demonstrators were protesting the Lega Nord political party’s close involvement in the organisation of the race, as well as the recent austerity measures passed by the Italian government, of which Lega Nord is a coalition partner. A nationwide general strike called by the CGIL also took place on Tuesday.

    When the race arrived in Mondovì, the three early breakaways Federico Rocchetti (De Rosa Flaminia), Simone Campagnaro (D'Angelo & Antenucci) and Pawel Bernas (Poland) succeeded in passing unhindered, but the main peloton was briefly halted by the protest. Gazzetta dello Sport said that “strong words” and even some pushes were exchanged between riders and protesters.

    Police broke up the demonstration shortly afterwards, although La Repubblica reports that a policeman was struck by a race car and taken to hospital.

    The stage continued unimpeded thereafter, with Sacha Modolo (Colnago-CSF Inox) taking victory in the sprint ahead of Elia Viviani (Liquigas-Cannondale) in Laigueglia.

    A backdrop of protest

    The Giro di Padania has attracted a...

  • Video: Haedo enjoys taking first Grand Tour win

    JJ Haedo was pretty pleased with his stage win
    Article published:
    September 06, 2011, 19:30 BST
    Stephen Farrand

    Saxo Bank sprinter the first Argentinean to win at the Vuelta

    Juan Jose Haedo swapped smiles and slaps on the back with Saxo Bank-SunGard team manager Bjarne Riis as they headed back to the team bus in Haro, both happy that the sprinter had avoided the confusion in the final roundabout and become the first Argentinean rider to ever win a stage at the Vuelta.

    Haedo has always been a quick thinking sprinter and while others went the wrong way, hesitated or were blocked by the confusion, he was first out of the roundabout, just three hundred metres from the finish, and sprinted to the line to win comfortably ahead of Alessandro Petacchi (Lampre-ISD) and Daniele Bennati (Leopard Trek).

    "I was the luckiest one but I think it's part of the game. I was at the right place at the right moment and had the right legs. I'm really happy," he told Cyclingnews before explaining the dynamic of the hectic sprint.

    "I was sitting fourth wheel and then just before the roundabout, everyone braked really hard. I had my wheel on the left of the rider in front and so just hit the roundabout clear. I didn't really know what happened but came out of the roundabout with a gap. I then put my head down and went for it."

    Like all the sprinters, Haedo had been suffering through the many mountain stages in the Vuelta in hope of having a shot at the end of the stage to Haro.

    "I've been preparing well since the end of June for this and the world championships. Now the win has come, it's great for me. I'm really happy. I've been fighting for a big win and now I've got it," he said.

    "It's the first Grand Tour win for an Argentinean and so I get the honour of being the first to do it. I've always wanted to win a Grand Tour stage because it's means that bit more than other wins."

  • Haussler and Bennati left fuming after Vuelta sprint confusion

    Daniele Bennati (Ita) Leopard Trek took second
    Article published:
    September 06, 2011, 20:20 BST
    Stephen Farrand

    Riders angry about a roundabout and the deviation 300 metres from the finish

    The sprinters have hauled themselves through two weeks of tough mountains and testing terrain at the Vuelta a Espana in the hope of winning the flat stage to Haro. But in a split second their chances were ruined just three hundred metres from the line by panic in the peloton as riders were unsure about going left or right at a roundabout.

    It seems the Leopard Trek lead out train mistakenly went right at the roundabout, instinctively following an official motorbike instead of the race route to the left that led to the finish line. Peter Sagan (Liquigas-Cannondale) was well positioned until he was forced to slam on the brakes and dive left in the panic, while only a few lucky riders able to go left and have a clear sprint to the line.

    Both Heinrich Haussler (Garmin-Cervelo) and Daniele Bennati (Leopard Trek) were convinced they were about to win the stage but were left fuming after being caught up in the confusion.

    "It's ridiculous. What the hell are we? Robots?" Haussler told Cyclingnews.

    "I thought today's was going to be like the Vuelta used to be: a flat stage with a breakaway, a last hour at full gas and then a fast sprint. Instead we hit a roundabout at 70km/h virtually in sight of the finish. That's crazy. The whole Vuelta has been crazy. Why can't we have a normal finish?"

    Haussler admitted he did not really know what happened in the high-speed confusion.

    "I think I was on Petacchi's wheel but then riders suddenly started braking and sitting up. I braked too, but coming from the back there wasn't much I could do. I had to dive to the left to avoid crashing."

    Daniele Bennati initially vented his disappointment via Twitter. He was...

  • Cancellara quits the Vuelta to prepare for the world championships

    Fabian Cancellara (Leopard Trek) was tired at the finish
    Article published:
    September 06, 2011, 21:34 BST
    Stephen Farrand

    Leopard Trek rider avoids commenting about the RadioShack merger

    Fabian Cancellara had a shower on the Leopard Trek team bus and then headed to Bilbao airport for a flight home to Switzerland after Tuesday's sixteenth stage of the Vuelta, as his thoughts turned to his final preparation or the world championships.

    Cancellara confirmed to Cyclingnews that he will target both the time trial and the road this year in Copenhagen. He is convinced the suffering and hard work he has endured day after day at the Vuelta will give him the perfect base for a shot at two world titles.

    "I think I've done the work I needed to do and so I'm heading home happy, knowing I'm on track for the world championships," Cancellara from the front seat of the Leopard Trek team car.

    "I rode the Tour de France and pretty soon after came here to the Vuelta. It's been a really hard race. The first week was especially tough with the heat but then I bounced back in the second week and rode well. I'm happy with what I've done.

    "I was dedicated to help Daniele Bennati in the sprints and Jakob [Fuglsang] and Maxime [Monfort], our duo for the GC. In order to be fresh in Copenhagen, I need to take some rest now and then pick up training again. I'm heading home to finish things off."

    Cancellara will target a fifth world time trial in Copenhagen after winning time trial titles in 2007, 2007, 2009 and 2010. He is also chasing a different rainbow jersey in the rainbow. The largely flat course perhaps suits the sprinters better but Cancellara seems to know he has a chance of victory if he can produce a late attack.

    Facing a 266km road race, Cancellara said he needs to now get some long rides in to top off his preparation for Copenhagen.

    "At the Vuelta we didn't actually race a lot of...

  • Becca confirms Nygaard's departure from Leopard Trek

    Leopard Trek financial backer Flavio Becca talks to directeur sportif Kim Andersen
    Article published:
    September 06, 2011, 22:50 BST
    Cycling News

    New RadioShack team will have "nothing American"

    Speaking to reporters from RTL Télé Luxembourg, Leopard Trek team owner Flavio Becca confirmed today that the current team manager Bryan Nygaard will be leaving the team immediately.

    Nygaard is rumored to be joining the new GreenEdge team as its press agent now that Leopard Trek and RadioShack have announced that the latter's sponsors and some riders and staff will move to Becca's team and the American squad will cease to exist.

    While many in the cycling world have called the changes to Leopard Trek and RadioShack a merger, Becca spoke as if his team has taken over the American squad. He insisted that the team will be Luxembourgish and that Leopard, the company that owns the current Leopard Trek team, will continue as license holders.

    "The name Leopard will be kept. The company will continue to be based in Luxembourg and will operate from Luxembourg," Becca said.

    Despite the acquisition of general manager Johan Bruyneel and title sponsors RadioShack and Nissan in addition to Trek, Becca said, "I can confirm that there is nothing American in this team, apart from the two sponsors."

    The license holders of the soon-to-be-former RadioShack operation, CSE Pro Cycling LLC, will continue running the team's marketing operations, but Becca said that CSE "wasn't interested in continuing" as license holders.

    "We knew that they would not ask for another license on the 1st of January 2012. Therefore, we first saw the opportunity to take a new sponsor on board and secondly to put together a stronger team.

    CSE is owned by Bart Knaggs and Bill Stapleton, formerly of Tailwind Sports, the owners of the Discovery Channel team and long-time partners with Lance Armstrong, which gave up on the sponsorship hunt in 2007 leaving that organisation to...

  • China to field national team for Tour of Beijing

    The Chinese have returned to World Cup racing.
    Article published:
    September 06, 2011, 23:23 BST
    Daniel Benson

    First step towards long-term goal of Chinese WorldTour team

    China will have its own national team in the Tour of Beijing later this month. The first Chinese WorldTour event takes place between October 5-9, with five stages in and around the Chinese capital. Although there have been threats to boycott the event, Cyclingnews understands that negotiations between the UCI and the WorldTour teams are progressing in a positive direction.

    However, the inclusion of a Chinese national team is a milestone for the nation's cycling development and a key stepping stone in the long path to eventually creating a Chinese-backed WorldTour team.

    "With my European point of view it might take five to ten years until we see a Chinese WorldTour team," Alain Rumpf, head of the UCI's Global Cycling Promotion (GCP), told Cyclingnews. "If you look at what Australia has done and where they were 20 years ago - they have just won the Tour and they'll have a top team next year. China is different, it might be faster. They delivered an incredible Olympics even though it was the first time they put on an event of that magnitude. There's certainly a potential there from a sporting and commercial point of view."

    At present, only a handful of Chinese riders compete within the European peleton so the majority of the national team for the Tour of Beijing will be hand-selected by the national federation from the home crop of talent. Those selected will travel to Aigle, Switzerland to train at the UCI's headquarters in the coming weeks. Still, Rumpf, who as part of the GCP has helped to organise the Tour of Beijing, believes that the riders selected will be good enough to compete at the WorldTour level.

    "If you look at the ranking they're not high but they're not racing abroad a lot. At the moment the most important event for them isn't the Olympics but the China Games, which is the national sports games where every province fights for glory and medals. So each province has their own team and they train for...

  • No fracture, but overall hopes now over for Rodriguez

    Joaquim Rodriguez stumbles into the finish on stage 16 of the Vuelta a Espana, more than 11 minutes down and with his overall hopes in tatters.
    Article published:
    September 07, 2011, 1:46 BST
    Cycling News

    Spaniard riding for pride and points jersey as Madrid looms

    A serious crash in the final 15 kilometres of stage 16 of the Vuelta a España cost Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) over 11 minutes, shattering any hopes the Spaniard may have still had of a high overall finish in Madrid.

    Flanked by teammates Alberto Losada Alguacil, Juan Horrach Rippoll and Aliaksandr Kuchynski, Rodriguez was a sorry sight at the finish in Haro, as he nursed an apparent fractured arm. He missed the podium presentation as well as media obligations to go directly to the local hospital in Lograño for treatment and scans.

    "He’s got a bad injury on a shoulder and one of his arms is very painful," Horrach reported at the end of the stage. "We hope that nothing is broken and that he’ll be all right tomorrow. He’s important for the spectacle."

    Though he has been diagnosed with 'contusions to the lumbar region of his back, as well as minor damage to a ligament in his wrist', the good news for the Rodriguez is that he has been cleared of any breaks, and will be able to start tomorrow's stage to Peña Cabarga.

    Rodriguez, was a pre-race favourite to take the red jersey in Madrid, however after conceding 5:24 in the time trial in Salamanca, and more time today he now sits in 24th overall, more than 16 minutes behind race leader Juan Jose Cobo.

    The Spaniard still leads the points classification, though with only one more uphill finish to go in this year's race, Peter Sagan currently 15 points behind Rodriguez, may have the edge.

  • Form in US gives Hincapie confidence for Québec

    George Hincapie (BMC) on the podium.
    Article published:
    September 07, 2011, 4:43 BST
    Cycling News

    BMC veteran believes courses "well-suited" to his strengths

    George Hincapie (BMC) is quietly confident that he can feature at this weekend's WorldTour events in Québec City and Montréal on the back of a late-season resurgence in form.

    A consistent though unrewarded ride at the Tour of Utah was followed by a stage win and fifth overall in Colorado against some of the world's best riders. With the parcours of the upcoming races well-suited to Hincapie, the American was unsurprisingly bullish about his chances in Canada.

    "I came out of the Utah and Colorado block of races in really good shape," Hincapie said.

    "Hopefully, I can take advantage of that this weekend. Last year, I was coming off an injury, so I was only 70 per cent. But I thought if I was good they would suit my capabilities. I think Montréal is harder. There's more overall climbing. But they're both tough."

    The 38-year-old has enjoyed an impressive season with BMC after opting to defer his retirement back in March. Hincapie was a crucial teammate to Cadel Evans at the Tour de France, and though he won't be in Copenhagen with the American national team, he will be looking to finish his season on a high.

    Hincapie will be supported in Canada by among others, Brent Bookwalter and Jeff Louder, who team director Michael Sayers also believes to be in top form.

    "Those guys are riding well, as is Amaël Moinard," Sayers said. "It's the same approach as last year. We have to try and get someone in the breakaway and at the end we have a few cards to play."

    The Grand Prix Cycliste de Québec...