- Article published:
- January 15, 2010, 01:41
- Richard Tyler
German cautiously optimistic about Australian Worlds
HTC-Columbia sprinter Ina-Yoko Teutenberg has named the 2010 women's Ronde van Vlaanderen and Ronde van Drenthe as the first major goals of a season that is likely to see her installed as a favourite for the World Road Championships.
Winner of the women's Ronde van Vlaanderen last year, Teutenberg told Cyclingnews that while she will return to her home in California until the end of March, she will return to Europe with success at the second and third rounds of the women's World Cup in the forefront of her mind.
"April is important for me, there are a lot of classic races. The Ronde Van Vlaanderen I want to do well in because I won there last year. The Dutch World Cup [Ronde van Drenthe] is a major aim too, because it's really suited to me. Those are the big goals for me and then towards the end of the year I want be in good form for the Worlds."
Despite two short climbs in the closing circuit for the 2010 Worlds course, early predictions have leaned towards riders with a fast finish. In a celebrated career, the rainbow jersey is one of very few major titles absent from Teutenberg's palmares.
"Everybody says it's really easy, I'm not sure I believe that. I haven't actually seen the course. We've ridden quite a bit in Geelong and I know people who live in that neighbourhood. I think the hills are actually quite hard, certainly not super-easy, so I think it's probably one of the goals," she said.
Although 2009 was for Teutenberg a personal success with almost 20 wins to her name, the season was also marked by Cervélo TestTeam's ascendancy to the top of women's cycling. While the departures of Kristin Armstrong (retirement) and Karin Thürig (transfer to Bigla) have seen a reshuffle at Cervélo, Teutenberg said the now Dutch-registered squad would remain a potent force.
"They have a strong team again. They lost a couple of veterans so I think they might be lacking a bit of a leader on the road, but they have so many talented riders that they can win every bike race they go to, that's for sure."
Another squad Teutenberg expects to mount a challenge this season will be Team Cycling Noris. After serious concerns over its sponsorship situation for the 2010 season, it was reported on Thursday that the former-Equipe Nürnberger Versicherung squad will remain in the peloton.
"They still have good riders and I think if these girls come to the races, they'll still be hungry," she said. "They will make a big step back in their salaries and they will do it to win races, rather than sit there and make money. For sure, they will be in the mix."
Teutenberg's season will get underway with a programme of races in California and while she has more work to do to prepare for the demands of European racing, she is confident that she will be ready in time for her first World Cup of the season.
"I will go back to California after this and like last year do the races there during March. They're better suited to me there, because the races in Europe are really hilly. The weather there is better, too, so I'll come back just before Flanders," she said.
"I've done my work in the winter. I probably had a longer off-season than last year and right now I'm not as fit as I was then, but I will start racing later, too. I still have eight weeks of training ahead of me, so I think I can reach the same level of fitness as I had last season by then."
- Article published:
- January 15, 2010, 02:00
- Greg Johnson
Careflight enlisted to turn team upside down
For some it’s a simple training ride, while others take part in some beach volleyball, but Fly V Australia’s riders were intrigued when they showed up at the local swimming pool on the Gold Coast, Australia for their team building exercise. The Australian Continental team recruited the help of Careflight, a helicopter rescue service, to train its riders and staff to work well together under pressure during its team camp this week.
The team took part in a simulated helicopter rollover, in which they had to pull one another out of the helicopter while upside down, and underwater. Making matters even more challenging, once they had successfully completed the exercise it had to be completed again, only this time blindfolded.
It wasn’t only the riders that took part in the teamwork under pressure training; team owner Chris White was joined by sport director Henk Vogels and other staff members during the session. White expects the exercise will help the riders communicate easier and more accurately in races where they’re not allowed to use race radios this year.
“The aim of the day was to develop team work further and see how the boys operated under increasing pressure,” said White. “The day was a huge success and is a further step forward for us as we head towards a world that does not include race radios and will place heightened pressure on communications and team work.”
The team has been training on the Gold Coast all week, with the riders getting out on the bike on both Wednesday and Thursday. In addition to planning individual racing rosters and team building exercises, the riders have been briefed on performance monitoring by Training Peaks’ Dirk Friel.
- Article published:
- January 15, 2010, 03:00
- Richard Tyler
Belgian fully recovered after injury plagued season
Omega Pharma-Lotto's Leif Hoste said today that teammate Philippe Gilbert deserves his billing as the team's best chance of victory in the Spring Classics.
Fully recovered from the leg and back injuries that brought a premature end to his 2009 season, Hoste told Cyclingnews that although he will once again head to the northern Classics in search of elusive victory, Gilbert will be a logical favourite.
"It's obvious he's number one. He proved it last year, so I don't have any problems with that," said Hoste. "It's not the first time I've faced this situation in a team, so for me personally it's not a problem."
Although conceding leadership to his Walloon teammate, Hoste himself has been a perennial favourite for the week that encompasses the Ronde van Vlaanderen and Paris-Roubaix since he finished second in his debut in the Tour of Flanders in 2004. Two further second place finishes, and sixth and fourth place results at Paris-Roubaix in the past two seasons mean he, too, will carry a burden of expectation in early April.
His team manager, Marc Sargeant, told Cyclingnews that he has warned the 32-year-old against his traditionally narrow focus. "I've said to him, more than ever, don't focus alone on the week of Vlaanderen and Paris-Roubaix. It's good to have a focus, but its one week and if there's something wrong then it's all gone."
For Hoste however, his passion for the Belgian and French monuments is difficult to temper. "I can't let those races go. For me it's not easy to say 'I'm not interested anymore', and to not focus on those races," he said. "My goal is to have a good month. Flanders or Roubaix, one of the two, for me they share the same importance. But even races like Harelbeke [E3 Prijs Vlaanderen] for example, they're also nice to win, it's just not those two [Classics] that I'll be aiming for."
Fueling Hoste's motivation this season will also be his return after a truncated schedule last year. Next month's Tour of Qatar will be his first race since September, when an injury sustained in a crash at Paris-Roubaix finally forced him into rehabilitation. This week riding up to five hours a day with his teammates at the squad's training camp in Majorca, he is satisfied the problems are behind him.
"I had five months without competition, and three months without riding my bike at all, so it's been a long way back. But for the moment I don't have any problems and after all the training we've done this week it's not going to come back."
Despite the frustration of his recovery period, Hoste's enforced break has meant he entered 2010 - his 13th year as a professional - better rested than in previous seasons. "I had a long break, so I recovered well," he said. "I feel it too, I'm fresher than I've been in previous years. From that point of view [the recovery period] has been a good thing."
- Article published:
- January 15, 2010, 10:27
- Susan Westemeyer
American considers riding for national team at the end of the year
Amber Neben is facing an uncertain future, as her former Equipe Nürnberger Versicherung is still struggling to find sponsorship for 2010. The former World Champion indicated that she would ride the first half of the year with the team, before possibly racing on her own in the US or with the national team.
Neben, 34, told Cyclingnews that she didn't expect the team to find a new sponsor. “I think it is too late now. I have been waiting, but nothing has developed yet. I think there is a much better chance for 2011. However, I do not have much hope for now.”
It's too bad, she said. “We had a good group assembled.”
The American rider has now “decided to take a more creative approach. I will use it as an opportunity to bring some new physical and mental racing stimuli into the first six months of the season. As my husband said, it is a chance to rotate the crops.”
Her plans at the moment are to do some limited racing with the former Nürnberger team, now called Team Cycling Noris, in the first half of the year.
After that, she will sit down to consider the situation, and what to do the second half of the season. “I will probably spend it racing with the National Team. Nothing is finalised, though. I would enjoy the chance to race with the American team, however, I'm not sure what their calendar will look like, so it may be necessary to stay associated with the former Nürnberg team.”
The advantage of staying with Noris is that it would probably operate “as a bare bones group just to get the riders to races, so regardless of how much I do with them, it opens the door for me to seek out a sponsor (or sponsors) to do some alternative racing in the States.”
Those are the plans, but Neben knows she must also figure out how to realise them. “I think I am close to settling on a schedule that I am happy with. Now, I just have to figure out how to find the sponsorship dollars to make it happen. Again, nothing is finalised. I am still working things out.”
Her first reaction in early December on hearing the news that the new sponsorship deal had fallen through was shock and disappointment. Her second reaction “was to look for opportunity in the adversity. My faith is my solid foundation, so I am grounded when it comes to dealing with the storms or uncertainties that life throws at me,” she continued.
Continuing to look for the bright side, Neben said, “I have done the same spring racing block for five years in a row, and I think it might be good to change things up. I think it may be a blessing in disguise. In addition, I also hope that it will open the door to some new relationships and sponsors. I have some freedom, so I am looking and listening.”
In the meantime, Neben is, of course, continuing to train. “However, stress is stress and this has definitely added to my off-the-bike stress. I would be lying if I said that I have not lost energy thinking about it.“
Neben turned pro in 20002 with Cannondale, riding for T-Mobile Team and Team Flexpoint before joining Nürnberger last year. She won the World time trial title in 2008, and that same year won the overall Tour Cycliste Feminin International Ardeche and finished second overall in the Giro d'Italia Femminile. She won the Giro's time trial in 2009.
- Article published:
- January 15, 2010, 11:24
- Cycling News
Dane returns from suspension to Italian Continental team
Michael Rasmussen has finally found a team for the 2010 season. The Dane has signed a one-year contract with the Continental-ranked Miche Silver Cross team, and will make his debut next week in the Tour de San Luis in Argentina.
Rasmussen, 35, was leading the 2007 Tour de France when his Rabobank team removed him from the race for violating the anti-doping “whereabouts” requirements. He was subsequently suspended for two years, and was eligible to return on July 29, 2009.
He rode the Vuelta a Chihuahua in Mexico last fall for Team Tecos Trek, winning the opening time trial and wearing the leader's jersey for three stages.
Rasmussen had wanted to ride for a higher-ranked team which would enable him to race one or more Grand Tours. "I had hoped that I would return to a higher level than what is now the case. But there is so much hypocrisy in cycling, it was not possible,” he told Danish website politiken.dk.
"I have a very clear feeling that many sports directors wanted me on the team, but they simply did not dare to employ me, because my relationship with the International Cycling Union, UCI, has not yet been completely clarified, although I have served my suspension.”
The small Italian team Miche finally offered him a contract, which he signed on January 1. Rasmussen is still looking to the future, though. “Only time will tell, but it is definitely my ambition to get to compete in the ProTour again one day.”
Meanwhile, Rasmussen is looking forward to the Tour de San Luis, where he thinks he can do well, even if he isn't in top form. “I have long been on vacation in Mexico, and although I obviously have trained, there are other participants who are significantly more advanced than I am. Also because they have long enjoyed this race as a major objective.
"But I am excited to get started and I am pretty sure that I should get a programme that gives me excellent opportunities."
The Tour de San Luis runs January 18-24.
- Article published:
- January 15, 2010, 12:20
- Cycling News
Spaniard proposes to have DNA analysis in independent lab
During the three-day hearing of his Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) appeal case against the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI), Alejandro Valverde has offered to submit a DNA sample to be analysed in a neutral laboratory.
In an effort to "show the irregularities in CONI's procedure," according to a press statement by the rider, Valverde would be willing to supply his DNA if it was tested in an independent lab outside of Italy.
"The UCI as well as WADA agreed to this proposal, only CONI has refuted realising it outside of Italy," the statement continued.
Valverde appealed to CAS against a two-year ban from racing on Italian territory that CONI imposed on him, alleging his involvement in Operación Puerto. CONI's case is based around a blood bag they obtained from the Puerto investigation they believe to belong to Valverde.
CAS' final ruling is expected in March.
- Article published:
- January 15, 2010, 13:27
- Hedwig Kröner
Cofidis climber to attempt Vuelta KOM triple, Tour participation unsure
David Moncoutié of the French Cofidis squad has flirted with retirement from pro cycling for several years in a row, but came to the peloton back every season and showed that he still had what it takes to win. In 2006 and 2007, multiple injuries made the Frenchman lose out, but in 2008 and 2009, he was back to win two stages of the Vuelta a Espana as well as the KOM classification for two years in a row.
His successes at the Tour of Spain are the biggest reasons for Moncoutié's return to the peloton this year. With a one-year-contract due to expire at the end of the season, the two-time Tour de France stage winner has the chance to accomplish an historic feat: win the best climber's competition at the Vuelta for the third consecutive time.
Speaking to Cyclingnews on Friday morning, while preparing to fly to the Tour of Gabon in Africa where he will start his 2010 racing programme next week, Moncoutié confirmed that this was the plan. "Yes, I like the Vuelta a lot and if I do finish my career at the end of this season, I'd like to finish it this way," he said. "Three participations in the Vuelta, three best climber jerseys - it would be a nice number. It's a challenge."
The 34-year-old will thus aim for a performance peak in September, and while he has accomplished his previous victories in Spain after participating in the Tour de France two months earlier, this year may see him on a different racing programme.
Because of his poor performances at the French Grand Tour these last few years, Moncoutié has thought about not attending the Tour this year - an unheard-of step for a French rider of his calibre. "The last two or three years, I didn't do well at the Tour," he explained. "Last year was not too pleasureable, and I told myself that it was going to be my last time. I want to try to do a season without the Tour, to have a different approach."
Moncoutié did not, however, discard it completely. "I do think about it, I have nothing decided yet. We will see how the first part of the season goes, and who will be on the list to go to the Tour. If the team really needs me, I will go, but there might be other riders ready to take over."
This would see him participating in races that he has never done before, which represents another challenge. Starting with the Tour of Gabon, Moncoutié may also take part in the Mallorca Challenge, and is trying to put together an alternative racing programme for June and July. "It's not easy as we are not in the ProTour anymore," he said. "Plus, I would never have imagined to do a year without the Tour, so I'm not really sure of my racing programme without it. We are still working on it."
In any case, Moncoutié is eager for a third success at the Vuelta, and team manager Eric Boyer delighted that his rider has chosen to take up the objective: "It's his personal challenge," Boyer added."If he lives up to it, then he could really leave cycling by the front door - if he does decide to quit..."
With Moncoutié, nothing is ever set in stone. "I do think of this year as my last - but I have to express some reservations about it. I have said this before and then I change my mind in the last minute..."
- Article published:
- January 15, 2010, 14:07
- Daniel Benson
Second-year Saxo Bank pro ready for Classics, Worlds, Grand Tour debut
Dominik Klemme may be one of Saxo Bank’s youngest riders but the 23-year-old German is looking to ride his first Worlds this year and support André Greipel in what he predicts as his most testing season yet.
Now in his second season with Bjarne Riis’ Danish outfit, Klemme is currently training at the team’s camp in Fuerteventura before flying out to the Tours of Qatar and Oman for his debut races in 2010.
With a place in the Classics also on the cards and a slot pencilled in for his Grand Tour debut at the Vuelta, the German knows that expectations of him are higher now than in the 2009 season in which seeking experience was paramount.
“I might one day be a good one-day racer. 2009 was a learning year and this is the year that I try and test myself. I want to be a helper at the Classics, I want to be at the Worlds for Germany and I want to win my first pro race with Saxo Bank,” he told Cyclingnews.
At the Worlds in Australia, Klemme is willing to offer his services to André Greipel, who is already being touted as a potential winner. “I would go there and help André Greipel. I want to use it as a learning experience. I want to know how it works in these races. At the Under-23 I got seventh and 11th. There’s a lot of watching each other and it’s about how you play your cards. I like races like that.
“I think it would be stupid not to work for André Greipel. It depends on the race but every sprinter says they want to win there and it would be stupid if the team said we wouldn’t give him a chance or work for him. But you also must have others for a break, because sometimes the sprinters just look at each other and you know that some of the national teams don’t work so good together,” he said, clearly displaying a maturity above his years.
Klemme’s wish to win his first professional race at Saxo Bank should not be easily discounted. He was signed by Riis during the Tour de l’Avenir, where he won two stages in 2008 and backed that up with a second place in the German national road race last year.
However, despite the steady development in his career, Klemme has kept a watchful eye on the decline in German cycling. “We only have one ProTour team left and it’s important that Germany keeps one big team alive, otherwise we turn the clock back thirty years. We had four teams a few years ago and now there is just Milram. It’s difficult, because of the press every sponsor was afraid,” said.