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Second Edition Cycling News, Friday, February 3, 2012

Date published:
February 03, 2012, 0:00 GMT
  • MTN-Qhubeka targets 2015 Tour de France

    Third place Jacques Janse van Rensburg from the MTN Qhubeka team
    Article published:
    February 03, 2012, 3:55 GMT
    Cycling News

    African team might turn Pro Continental in 2013

    South African Team MTN-Qhubeka is expecting an ambitious move in the coming month. The plan is clear: they will apply as a Pro Continental team for 2013 and hope to race the Tour de France 2015.

    "In the next three to five years, we want to take an African team to the Tour de France with black African riders," Doug Ryder, the team principal told Cyclingnews. This ultimate goal has been his dream for the last fifteen years.

    In order to build a strong roster, Ryder appointed all the best talents of Sub-Saharan Africa. Notably, 20-year-old Ethiopian talent Tsgabu Grmay, who finished fifth in the Italian Under-23 Nations Cup last season, joined the team as well as two Eritrean riders, Meron Russom, who was second in the 2010 Continental African Championships, and Jani Tewelde.

    Only their countryman Natnael Berhane, a stage winner in the Tropicale Amissa Bongo ahead of Quick Step's Jérôme Pineau, is missing from this African dream team. The roster officially includes 13 road riders, plus Rwandan star Adrien Nyonshuti, who is registered as a mountain biker, given his qualification for the mountain bike event in London Olympics.

    MTN-Qhubeka secured its roster by signing an agreement with the UCI World Cycling Center. The "cycling academy" allows their riders to race part of the year with the South African team while MTN-Qhubeka pays for their scholarships in Europe.

    In accordance with UCI rules, the team is mainly composed of South African riders. Ryder has, however, a more demanding internal policy: "between 50 and 60% of the athletes must be black African riders." For this reason, he is investing money in the development of some of the raw talents from Sub-Saharan countries.

    "A Sub-Saharan African rider will always feel at home with us," the team manager said. "In Europe or America, he always would be a foreigner in a foreign team and he would never get the opportunity to race the big races".

  • Hunter carries on with Garmin-Barracuda

    Robbie Hunter (Team Radioshack) easily wins his heat to advance.
    Article published:
    February 03, 2012, 5:00 GMT
    Daniel Benson

    South African enjoying a career longer than he expected

    When he broke away in a suicide move in the 1999 Milan San Remo, Robbie Hunter had little knowledge that the ride would last so long. On that day in March he was the last man caught, holding off the peloton until the slopes of the Cipressa.

    In many ways his long career parallels that ride in la Classica di Primavera. Both have been built on determination, guts, a fair amount of talent and, of course, longevity.

    Now 34, the South African is back with the Garmin-Barracuda squad after a year away with RadioShack, and he's still as enthused as ever.

    "I'm happy to be back and I think it's going to be a good year. I've had some good off-season training," he says as he sits down for coffee at the team's camp in Calpe, Span.

    Hunter was a surprise Garmin signing at the start of 2010 but quickly formed a strong bond with Tyler Farrar. However the relationship was short-lived. The Garmin-Cervelo mash-up left Hunter with few opportunities and when he sat down with Matt White to plan his 2011 season he was informed that his ambitions would have to be curtained. It was leadouts or nothing.

    A move to the Shack was the only way out and Hunter enjoyed some success in 2011, picking up two wins but with 10 riders leaving Garmin in the off-season and Farrar in need of more support, Hunter found a spot for himself back on the team with a two-year deal.

    "I spent a year away from them but I'll spend the next two years here and hope this is the team I finish my career with," he says.

    "I don't regret leaving though. I left because of certain circumstances. A lot of guys were coming to the team, and I didn't want to be around when there was space taken away from me. I accepted that though, there were bigger riders than me but the year...

  • Video: Cavendish and his Team Sky leadout train in action

    World champion Mark Cavendish (Team Sky)
    Article published:
    February 03, 2012, 10:11 GMT
    Cycling News

    Footage from the team's camp in Mallorca

    As soon as Mark Cavendish crosses a finish line in victory his first move is to celebrate with his teammates. Whether it's at the Worlds, Tour de France or Giro, it's an instinctive and public show of gratitude for what they've helped him achieve. Cavendish is the fastest sprinter in the world but he also has the best riders to ensure he's in position to showcase his speed.

    While his move from HTC-Highroad to Sky over the winter has slipped from the headlines the team's hard work has been ramped up. The situation has been helped by the fact that Cavendish knows Sky's set up. The GB contingent are familiar from his track and youth academy days, while there are no fewer than 9 (including Cavendish) former Highroad riders on the team in 2012.

    During each of the team's training camps there has been a focus on leadout training. In this video Rod Illingworth, the mastermind behind the Worlds win, says that the team has the speed but that the final positions in Cavendish's leadout train have yet to be decided. Cavendish probably has a certain idea as to his preferred option but with such a long and difficult season ahead, the importance will be Sky's strength in depth as much as it will Cavendish's pure speed.

  • McEwen comfortable with changing role at GreenEdge

    Robbie McEwen before the start.
    Article published:
    February 03, 2012, 11:00 GMT
    Cycling News

    Australian combines riding with management

    Robbie McEwen has a “diverse” role with Team GreenEdge, calling himself a rider-coach at the moment. The Australian is comfortable with his role, which will see him transition from being a rider to the management side.

    “An important part of my role in the team is not only to be a rider and now and again try and win the sprint, but to organise and coach the younger guys and mentor them,” he said. “Going into my 17th season of racing I think I can share my experience with the guys and get them up to speed. My role in the team is diverse but most importantly is that I share my experience.”

    The 39-year-old said he was “very comfortable” with this role. “It’s one that I spoke about with the team management before I signed. I was approached about doing a similar role with another team about two years ago but I wasn’t quite ready. I am nearly 40 and you can’t be a professional athlete forever."

    “I had a thought that I wanted to fill a role like I am now and wanted it to be with an Australian team so I can pass my knowledge onto Australian riders so it’s something I am very comfortable with. It’s a great way to make the transition from being a rider to what you could call technical staff.”

    Finding motivation to continue is no problem. “It’s my pure enjoyment and passion for the sport,” he said. “There is nothing like the feeling of winning, it gets me out of bed every morning. It’s a pretty special thing when you can have something that is your hobby and it becomes your profession.”

  • Ricco's CONI hearing postponed by bad weather

    Article published:
    February 03, 2012, 12:12 GMT
    Cycling News

    Proceeding participants unable to travel to Rome

    Riccardo Ricco's hearing before the Italian national anti-doping tribunal has been postponed. The severe winter weather which has taken control of Europe prevented two consultants from attending.

    The president of the tribunal ordered that the proceedings be postponed until further notice, after being informed that the two consultants were unable to reach the Olympic stadium in Rome.  A statement from the Italian National Olympic Committee (CONI) said that, “the aforementioned absences – in a particularly delicate and complex proceeding with a technical-scientific profile – could negatively affect the decision.”

    A new date was not announce but the proceeding is expected to be scheduled again in a few weeks.

    Ricco had previously announced that he would not attend the hearing.

    The case stems from Ricco's hospitalisation last February, when he allegedly said he had given himself a blood transfusion.  The prosecution has requested he be given a 12-year ban.

  • Gallery: Vacansoleil hits the wind tunnel

    Vacansoleil testing in the wind tunnel ahead of the 2012 season
    Article published:
    February 03, 2012, 16:07 GMT
    Cycling News

    Dutch team looking for the aero edge

    Vacansoleil-DCM headed to France earlier this week for wind tunnel testing at Aero Concept Engineering on the racetrack at Magny-Cours.

    The two-day run saw Wout Poels, Lieuwe Westra, Gustav Larsson and Thomas de Gendt have some precious time fine-tuning their time trial positions, logging twenty hours of crucial testing between them.

    “There are a lot of chances for improvement and innovation and we consider many options for the team. Investing in aerodynamics seemed to us as a logical and useful step for the development of our cyclists and materials,” said team manager Jean-Paul van Poppel.

    “We have considered the investment against the potential result. From the results of these tests we think our talents, GC riders and time trial specialists, will benefit over the next two years.”

    Van Poppel saw immediate results. “We have learned a lot on both the position of the rider and the materials. The changes on the positions of the riders must now be tested on the road but in theory there will be progress by all riders of percentages. We saw a couple of unexpected suggestions which seemed to work. Also, on the side of the materials to be used, we compared a few things and the whole team can benefit from the results.”


  • Teams stretch from Mallorca to Qatar

    Frank and Andy Schleck (RadioShack-Nissan)
    Article published:
    February 03, 2012, 22:00 GMT
    Cycling News

    RadioShack-Nissan, Euskaltel and Katusha announce line-ups

    The European season is now in full swing, with the Mallorca Challenge and Tour of Qatar starting this weekend.  Andy and Fränk Schleck, Denis Menchov, Joaquim Rodriguez and Igor Anton will be amongst those on the roads in Mallorca.  Fabian Cancellara and Denis Galimzyanov will sprint for the wins in the desert, where Erik Zabel will make his debut as a sport director.

    Andy Schleck will make his debut in the RadioShack-Nissan jersey at the first and third races of the Malllorca series, while his brother Fränk will do the same but add the fourth race.  The second race will feature Jakob Fuglsang, Linus Gerdemann and Jens Voigt, and Andreas Klöden will ride the same schedule as Andy Schleck.

    Katusha captains Menchov and Rodriguez will make their season  starts at Mallorca as well. They will be supported by a large cast including Pavel Brutt and Daniele Moreno.

    Euskaltel will send Anton, Mikel Astarloza and Romain Sicard to Mallorca, as well as brothers Gorka and Ion Izagirre.

    The Mallorca Challenge is not a stage race but a series of  one-day races, so the teams may send a large squad to participate.

    Sprinters in Qatar

    Fabian Cancellara will look for an early season win in Qatar, a feat he has accomplished only once in his career. He won a stage the first time he rode the race in 2004 for Fassa Bortolo. Now with RadioShack-Nissan, he...

  • Lance Armstrong inquiry concludes with no charges filed

    Lance Armstrong and Floyd Landis on the US Postal team
    Article published:
    February 03, 2012, 22:31 GMT
    Cycling News

    Two-year federal investigation into doping allegations ends

    The Associated Press has reported today that the nearly two-year long federal investigation into allegations of doping by Lance Armstrong has come to a conclusion without any charges being filed.

    A press release from United States Attorney Andre Birotte Jr. stated his office "is closing an investigation into allegations of federal criminal conduct by members and associates of a professional bicycle racing team owned in part by Lance Armstrong."

    That team was the US Postal Service team, which was sponsored by the independent agency of the US federal government from 1996 through 2004, supporting the team through five of Armstrong's record seven consecutive Tour de France victories. The investigation into systematic doping within the team arose partly out of allegations made by former rider Floyd Landis in 2010.

    The federal government's interest arose from the possibility that doping programs, funded through government-supplied sponsorship dollars, could constitute fraud. The Food and Drug Adminstration's Jeff Novitzky was appointed to head up the investigation, the same man responsible for pursuing the BALCO steroids scandal.

    Normally grand jury investigations would not be publicized if they failed to result in charges, but Birotte decided to make a public statement about the investigation's end due to numerous reports about the supposedly secret investigation in the press.

    "This is great news," Armstrong's spokesman Mark Fabiani said in a statement. "Lance is pleased that the United States Attorney made the right decision, and he is more determined than ever to devote his time and energy to Livestrong and to the causes that have defined his career."

    The case may not be concluded for...