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Second Edition Cycling News, Friday, April 2, 2010

Date published:
April 02, 2010, 1:00 BST
  • Preliminary rosters for Giro d'Italia announced

    The formalities begin at the 2010 Giro d'Italia presentation.
    Article published:
    April 02, 2010, 10:40 BST
    Cycling News

    No Menchov in Italian race, but three other former winners

    This year's Giro d'Italia will feature three former champions, but not 2009 winner Denis Menchov of Rabobank. Race organiser RCS released the preliminary start lists of the 22 invited teams on Thursday. Each team could nominate up to 15 riders.

    On the list are three Giro champions, Stefano Garzelli (Acqua & Sapone), Ivan Basso (Liquigas) and Damiano Cunego (Lampre). Also nominated are Tour de France winner Carlos Sastre (Cervélo) and Vuelta a España champion Alexander Vinokourov (Astana).

    World champions Oscar Freire (Rabobank), Cadel Evans (BMC) and Alessandro Ballan (BMC) are also on the list.

    Other top names include Bradley Wiggins (Sky), Linus Gerdemann (Milram), Alexander Efimkin (AG2R) and Marzio Bruseghin (Caisse d'Epargne).

    A number of top sprinters will battle it out, including Andre Greipel (HTC-Columbia), Alessandro Petacchi (Lampre), Freire, Tyler Farrar (Garmin), Robbie McEwen (Katusha), and Daniele Bennati (Liquigas).

    Menchov had announced in January that he would skip the Giro this year and concentrate on the Tour de France.

  • Devolder ready to support Boonen at Flanders

    Stijn Devolder (Quick Step) on the front of the peloton.
    Article published:
    April 02, 2010, 12:04 BST
    Richard Tyler

    Reigning champion could turn form around on Sunday

    Two-time Tour of Flanders winner Stijn Devolder (Quick Step) has pledged his support for teammate Tom Boonen at this weekend's edition of the race, should the current Belgian Champion be in a better position to win.

    Last week, Devolder brushed off comments from his team manager, Patrick Lefevere, who had expressed concerns about Devolder's approach to lead-up event, Dwars Door Vlaanderen. With teammate Boonen a strong favourite for this Sunday's race, Devolder moved on Thursday to cement his underdog status for the race.

    "The Tour of Flanders is one of the biggest races of the spring and the competition will be so strong," said Devolder told Sporza at a press conference held in De Panne, Belgium. "It is worth winning the Ronde as a team. And if on Sunday Tom is the strongest, I will gladly work for him."

    Despite his attempt to deflect attention from his own chances of success, Devolder will be a marked man in Sunday's race. His successive victories in 2008 and 2009 both came after successful attacks on the Eikenmolen to set up solo runs into Ninove.

    The decision by race organisers to alter the course for the 2010 event has removed Devolder's traditional launching pad, but if successful once again he would join Italian Fiorenzi Magni (1949, 1950 and 1951) as the only other rider to win three Flanders titles on the trot.

    "I think the chances [of a third successive win] are relatively slim," said Devolder of the potential record. However, he did indicate that his lack of results this season was not necessarily a sign that he will be completely out of the hunt this weekend.

    "I don't know why, but my form is there," he said. "I have done everything and will be there Sunday."

  • Armstrong trains for De Ronde

    Lance Armstrong (RadioShack) races in Corsica
    Article published:
    April 02, 2010, 12:25 BST
    Cycling News

    First Flanders ride for American star in five years

    Lance Armstrong yesterday prepared for his first Tour of Flanders since 2005, when he finished 28th, over two minutes behind winner Tom Boonen.

    The 38-year-old American hit the cobbled roads of northern Belgium that will host Sunday's showdown with members of his RadioShack squad, including Frenchman Geoffroy Lequatre, Swiss powerhouse Gregory Rast and Yaroslav Popovych.

    The last time Armstrong competed in the race was in the year he retired from pro cycling, using the event as vital preparation ahead of his seventh Tour de France title, which he celebrated in Paris three months later before calling an end to his first stint as a professional rider.

    It's the first Classic this season for Armstrong, who missed Milan-San Remo last month and last rode the Tour of Flanders in 2005; the man who finished seventh that year was Armstrong's former teammate, George Hincapie, who will also return to one of his favourite races for another crack at the crown, albeit as a member of the BMC Racing squad.

    Hincapie is expected to feature at the pointy end of the race. Conversely, many observers aren't expecting Armstrong to be vying to line honours against the likes of Fabian Cancellara, the aforementioned Boonen and defending champion Stijn Devolder.

    Following the Tour of Flanders, Armstrong will ride the Circuit de la Sarthe (April 6-9).

    Team RadioShack for Tour of Flanders: Lance Armstrong, Markel Irizar, Geoffroy Lequatre, Dmitriy Muravyev, Yaroslav Popovych, Gregory Rast, Sébastien Rosseler, Tomas Vaitkus

  • Langeveld thinks he can win Flanders

    Sebastian Langeveld wins stage four in Sebnitz.
    Article published:
    April 02, 2010, 12:39 BST
    Cycling News

    Dutchman is one of three Rabobank captains

    Sebastian Langeveld is one of Rabobank's three captains for the Tour of Flanders on Sunday, and he likes his chances in the race. “I am not one of the big-time favourites, but I can win it,” he said.

    The 25-year-old shares the team captaincy with Nick Nuyens and Lars Boom. Nuyens crashed three times last week in the E3 Prijs, causing him to miss Gent-Wevelgem, and was confirmed for Flanders only on Wednesday. Boom is riding the race for the first time. “It's wait and see how he handles the 260 km,” admitted directeur sportif Erik Dekker.

    Dekker is more positive about Langeveld. “My impression of Sebastian is good,” he told the Dutch news agency ANP. “There is a clear upward trend in his riding.”

    In the 2008 Tour of Flanders, Langeveld made his name with an unsuccessful chase of eventual winner Stijn Devolder. He was unable to follow up on that last year. Not only did his top form peak too early, he was caught behind a crash in the finale. “Otherwise a good placing would have been possible,” Langeveld said.

    However, his preparations this year have not gone according to plan, as knee problems caused him to skip the Mallorca Challenge. “I have often had problems with my knees, but there was always an identifiable cause. This time I didn't know why. It could be from my strength training. Maybe new material, different shoes, for example.”

    Langeveld was worried how the season might go, but by Dwars door Vlaanderen, he knew he was "progressing well” and continued to finish sixth overall in the E3 Prijs.

    “At this point I don't rate myself any higher than Nick and Lars,” he said. “It is important that we be honest with each other in the race. And the team management makes adjustments where necessary.

    I can win, but the race has to go to my advantage. And all the puzzle pieces have to fit together...

  • Pozzato worse, out of Flanders

    Italian champion Filippo Pozzato was confident on the start line.
    Article published:
    April 02, 2010, 13:59 BST
    Cycling News

    Katusha rider to return to Italy, Ivanov recovered

    The Tour of Flanders lost one of its top favourites, as Filippo Pozzato's intestinal virus has definitely knocked him out of the race. Only yesterday, Team Katusha had confirmed that he was getting better and would ride on Sunday.

    "His stomach flu was even worse last night. Tomorrow morning he will return to Italy," said Directeur Sportif Bart Leysen according to

    "Filippo lay in bed all day yesterday, but did not improve. Instead he got worse," Leysen said. "This morning he finally decided to throw in the towel."

    Pozzato also told the Gazzetta dello Sport that he has a fever. "Last night I did not sleep a wink. I cannot eat, and I am a physical wreck. The doctor has advised me not to ride. It is impossible to be fit by Sunday."

    He is now aiming at Paris-Roubaix on April 11.

    With Pozzato out of the mix, the team will look to Serguei Ivanov, who has apparently recovered from his intestinal problems. "He will certainly start on Sunday," Leysen said. "He is our leader."

  • Hushovd predicts that small group will decide Flanders

    Thor Hushovd (Cervelo TestTeam)
    Article published:
    April 02, 2010, 15:14 BST
    Richard Tyler

    Cervélo captain says team will have to race "smart" on Sunday

    Thor Hushovd expects a return to tradition at the Tour of Flanders on Sunday, with the winner of the 2010 edition to come from a small group of riders.

    In 2009, the race was marked by a 29-man group, which came to the race's finish in Ninove, Belgium one minute behind solo race winner Stijn Devolder (Quick Step). On Friday, Hushovd said changes made to the course for 2010 are likely to cause the famed Muur-Kappelmuur to play a greater role in the eventual outcome.

    "I think this year the attack will come earlier [than where Devolder attacked last year]," Hushovd told Cyclingnews. "I think it will be a small group because it is so hard, and also with the wind. I can't see it happening that a big group comes to the finish together. Even coming into Geraardsbergen [site of the Muur – ed.], I don't think the [front] group is going to be very big.

    "This year the race is obviously harder. It's hard because it's so technical all the time. Whereas before you had a chance to rest, this year it's full-gas, left, right, up, and down on small roads, and it's windy."

    Hushovd's assessment of the course is based upon reconnaissance carried out by the Cervélo squad on Thursday. Their review of the second half of the 262-kilometre race was also the longest training ride that Hushovd has completed since he recovered from a stomach virus which played havoc with his 2010 Classics campaign thus far.

    "I just didn't feel normal for almost three or four days after, but now I'm almost back to normal and I just need to get back the energy," he said. "I had to take some time of the bike, so, of course, I lost a lot of important training. Especially missing that race [Gent-Wevelgem] on Sunday, that was the biggest loss."

    Following the withdrawal of Heinrich Haussler and Andreas Klier from Flanders Tuesday, Hushovd has assumed sole captaincy of his squad for the race. This weekend he will count on the support of...

  • Rock Racing's sponsor in bankruptcy

    The Rock Racing team happy at the end of a long hard week.
    Article published:
    April 02, 2010, 16:27 BST
    Cycling News

    Michael Ball's firm Rock & Republic being restructured

    Rock & Republic, the firm behind the Rock Racing Team, has filed for bankruptcy in US court. Michael Ball is the Chief Executive Officer of the company, as well as of the cycling team.

    The company has been known for it expensive jeans, at US$200 or more, as well as other apparel. The products were sold at upper-class stores as Bloomingdale's, Nieman-Marcus and Nordstrom.

    The company's day-to-day operations are expected to continue as usual. There was no word as to how the bankruptcy filing might affect the team.

    The team did not receive a UCI license this year at any professional level. It is now operating as an amateur team. Rock Racing has been plagued by financial problems for years, with many reports of unpaid salaries.

    "The Chapter 11 filing is a strategic action that will alleviate balance sheet burdens and enable us to adopt the financial and operational initiatives needed to support the brand's growth needs," said Geoffrey D. Lurie, Rock & Republic's chief restructuring officer according to the Los Angeles Times. "We are confident that this is the right move for Rock & Republic."

    The company is looking into various "financial relationships", he said, and would focus on its core lines of apparel and footwear. It was not clear what this meant for the cycling team.

    The bankruptcy petition was filed in US Bankruptcy Court in New York on Thursday.

    Rock Racing had presented itself with a "bad boy" image over the years. Its black kit frequently featured such symbols as skulls. Ball signed many riders who had come back from doping suspensions or had been involved in doping scandals, such as Operacion Puerto.

  • Cavendish pledges support for Eisel at Flanders

    Columbia-HTC's Mark Cavendish and Bernhard Eisel, seen here at the team's first training camp, each think they have a shot at a road world championship in 2010.
    Article published:
    April 02, 2010, 17:19 BST
    Daniel Benson

    HTC-Columbia sprinter to prepare for Tour de France at California

    Mark Cavendish (HTC-Columbia) will ride the Tour of Flanders this weekend with two objectives. First, he’ll aim to support Bernhard Eisel in the Austrian’s quest for victory and second, he’ll be riding to experience the race first hand, having never competed in the Belgian Classic.

    Cavendish is usually the rider on the team that has the loyal and dedicated support of his teammates, but on Sunday he’ll switch roles with Gent-Wevelgem winner Eisel, a rider who has sacrificed so much for the British sprinter in the last few years.

    "I called Bernhard in the week and I said there are not many opportunities I get to go into a race and help someone. I’m usually protected or not good enough to help. This is the first time I’ve been genuinely excited about being part of something I think can succeed, by doing the hard graft before the finish for someone else. The goal is to get Bernie to win. He’s been so loyal to me I’m so motivated to help him onto the podium." he said.

    Cavendish was quoted earlier in the year as saying he could one day win Flanders but he believes he was misquoted and that tomorrow’s debut in the race will be about gathering the evidence he needs to determine whether or not it’s a goal for the future.

    "I’m riding this year to see if it’s a race I can win in the future but I don’t know. We’ll see how it goes. I was misquoted when I said I could win this race."

    His form coming into the event has been on an upwards trajectory. He felt strong during Milan-San Remo and won his first race of the season at the Volta a Catalunya. Whether he’ll finish tomorrow’s race is unknown, but whatever his final placing Cavendish will be at Eisel’s disposal. "If he needs me early on - anything can happen - but as long as he’s sheltered I’ll keep going as long as I can. Whenever I can do something I’ll do...