- Article published:
- June 3, 2011, 07:03
- Kirsten Frattini
'Team not worried by absence of Teutenberg,' says Neben
Amber Neben is confident that, despite the absence of sprinter Ina-Yoko Teutenberg, the HTC-Highroad squad will deliver a victory at the upcoming UCI 1.1 Liberty Classic held in Philadelphia on Sunday. The former world time trial champion believes that the assembled team is capable of winning the race from either a breakaway or a bunch sprint.
HTC-Highroad’s roster also includes Chloe Hosking and Adriana Visser, who are well known for their fast sprints, along with strong climbers Amanda Miller, Ally Statcher, Evie Stevens.
"Chloe is growing and learning with each race and she is fast at the finish, so we do have someone who can sprint and Adri is a good sprinter as well," Neben said. "It’s not like it will be a bunch of 150 coming to the finish, it will be a bit smaller so I’m sure one of those girls has a chance to win and I would be confident with either of them."
"The rest of us will come in fit and we will race hard," she added. "It has been our goal the whole year, to be aggressive and look for opportunities and not necessarily wait for a sprint. If it comes down to one, we know that we have people that can finish, but we have other cards to play along the way."
Teutenberg will not compete for her fifth title at the Liberty Classic and will instead compete in the GP Ciudad de Valladolid World Cup held in Spain on the same day.
"She will be racing the World Cup," Neben said. "It would changed everyone’s dynamic not having Ina here. Ina is Ina and to not have her here, we will miss her. She’s won it four times but at the same time we have a strong team."
The women will complete four laps of a challenging circuit that includes the steep 800-metre ascent over Manayunk Wall for a total 92.8 kms. The race will start outside the Art Museum on Benjamin Franklin Parkway, up Manayunk Wall followed by a blazing descent toward the final two climbs Strawberry Mansion and Lemon Hill, before returning to the Logan Square finish line.
"I don’t think it’s that hard of a course which is why it typically comes down to a field sprint," Neben said. "It is fast everywhere except for going up the wall. It is easy to chase on it because it is not a technical course, it has straight roads and it is easy to line up a team and chase if you need to."
"The climb is hard but it is short enough that it is a sprinter climb, it is a minute effort and that is a great length for a sprinter," she added.
"They can get over it without any issues. I think that is why it comes down to a sprint because it is only four laps, it might be different if it were more laps so then you would have to factor in the heat and the course length. But it is short and flat enough that it is not super difficult. It is still a hard race but the course is not super selective."
The event has come down to a field sprint on 12 of the 15 editions, Petra Rosner won seven times, Teutenberg won four and Regina Schleicher won one. A breakaway has succeeded on three occasions won by Chantal Beltman, Lyne Bessette and Clara Hughes. According to Neben, the possibility of a breakaway succeeding to the finish line should never be ruled out.
"I think the possibility of a breakaway always exists and it is not impossible," Neben said.
"It can happen, but the odds are better for it to be a bunch. If it gets raced hard enough, our whole team is there and we have people that can keep it away. There are a lot of strong teams and world class sprinters and they will be motivated to bring it to the line. So, I think for a small group to stay away the timing will have to be just right. That’s the fun thing about bike racing is that you never know."
- Article published:
- June 3, 2011, 09:05
- Cycling News
Dutch team still feels justified in firing Italian earlier this year
Riccardo Ricco's former team Vacansoleil-DCM has raised its eyebrows at the news he has signed with another team, saying, “It seems unwise to take him under contract.” It was announced earlier this week that Ricco has signed with the Croatian Continental-ranked team Meridiana Kamen.
Vacansoleil had signed the Italian last summer. This year he was admitted to hospital with kidney failure and there are now investigations underway as to whether this was doping-related.
The team conducted its own investigation and severed its contract with the rider, citing “violation of internal team rules and other indications.”
Vacansoleil spokesman Frank Kwanten told AD.nl that he was “not really surprised” at Ricco's signing. “I would have been surprised if he had signed with a big team, but this was in line with expectations. It seems to me unwise to take him under contract.”
“There were surprised reactions when we gave him a second chance,” Kwanten continued. “Now there is an investigation into what happened during that second chance.
“But hey, we followed all the rules and this team is also doing so now. He may officially ride, but we still take the view that we had legitimate reasons to release him.”
- Article published:
- June 3, 2011, 10:13
- Daniel Friebe
Italian expects full recovery from hip fracture
HTC-Highroad’s Italian star Marco Pinotti will return home today, a week after the Giro d’Italia crash which cost him a compound fracture of his hip and, in all likelihood, at least three months of racing.
Speaking from his hospital bed in Bergamo on Thursday evening, Pinotti maintained that his morale was “quite good” and that he still harboured hopes of returning to action before the end of the 2011 season.
Pinotti crashed together with teammate Craig Lewis 35 kilometres from the end of stage 19 of the Giro from Bergamo to Macugnaga. In many ways, the Italian time trial champion agreed on Thursday, the fall was in keeping with his bitter-sweet Giro: Pinotti had led the race after the opening day time trial in Turin, fallen ill and down the general classification in the mountains, then narrowly missed out on a stage win front of his home fans in Bergamo on the eve of his accident.
Had he made it to the final-day time trial in Milan, Pinotti would have been hotly tipped to repeat the success he earned on a similar stage in 2008. “But I’d rather not think about that and all that I’ll be missing – the Tour of Switzerland, the Italian championships and so on,” he told Cyclingnews. “In terms of the time it’s forcing me to spend off the bike, and the frustration it’s causing, this is the worst injury of my career.”
While he doesn't wish to dwell, Pinotti remembers the circumstances of the crash clearly – indeed probably more clearly than he’d like.
“It was a central reservation in the road which wasn’t marked with flags or any of the usual signs,” Pinotti said. “Craig and I weren’t the only ones who fell but we were the only two who suffered the consequences. Perhaps if it hadn’t been raining, we would have been able to get out of the way…But I can remember braking as soon as I saw it in the middle of the road, and of course it was too late.”
Ever inclined to look on the bright side (Pinotti said of his second place to Eros Capecchi on stage 18 that he’d had “a lovely day nonetheless”) the Italian considers himself “fortunate, or at least luckier than Craig”. His injuries did not require surgery and, says Pinotti, should cause no lasting damage. Lewis, meanwhile, is beginning his recovery from a broken femur.
“The doctors have told me I can’t do anything for the next three or four weeks," Pinott explained. "After that, I’ll be able to walk on crutches, then the next step will be physio and riding on rollers. In total, the process before I’m able to train again should take between eight and 12 weeks. It’s quite unpredictable, though. If everything goes well, I hope to be able to do a few races towards the end of the season. It would be nice to be at the Tour of Lombardy.”
Pinotti’s lay-off of course ends his hopes of a sixth national time trial title in June – but he can at least take some comfort in the knowledge that his successor won’t be a rider convicted of doping offences in the last three years. Earlier this week, Italian Cycling Federation chief Renato di Rocco announced that, with cycling in Italy currently mired in a crisis of credibility, any rider found guilty of doping since 2008 would be asked to stay away from this year’s national championships.
On Thursday, Pinotti echoed other commentators who have expressed their surprise at the arbitrary nature of the 2008 cut-off date. “It seems a bit subjective,” he said. “I think it’s useful as another signal, another way of rewarding those who have played by the rules and punishing those who haven’t. On the other hand, I can see how a rider who has served a ban and come back would be a bit miffed. Ultimately, though, I’m pretty neutral because it doesn’t concern me."
- Article published:
- June 3, 2011, 11:00
- Cycling News
PR tightrope being walked by RadioShack, say experts
RadioShack is yet to open into negotiations for the 2012 season, casting shadows over the future of Team RadioShack. Questions have surrounded the future of the team ever since seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong announced his retirement earlier this year. Armstrong was the key player in creating the RadioShack team, and has acted as a brand ambassador for the company itself.
Eric Bruner, head of RadioShack media relations, spoke to Cyclingnews from the company's US offices.
"We're proud of Team RadioShack's results at the Amgen Tour of California and US Pro Championships, but have not discussed our plans for 2012 at this point," he said. Bruner was also adamant that this decision was independent of allegations surrounding the high profile American. "We have an ongoing relationship with Lance Armstrong," he added.
Public Relations problems
It may be that the relationship with Armstrong is causing the company problems however.
Cyclingnews also spoke to Sydney PR firm Ogilvy about the effect of the allegations on the company's image and the most logical way forward.
"The number and detail of allegations are now making it more difficult for Armstrong himself and the companies he is associated with to simply brush off," said media director Sam North.
"A tipping point may have been reached - and if it has that will make sponsors very nervous. [RadioShack and Nike] will be watching the situation very closely."
North drew parallels with a number of recent sporting scandals including those of which involved Marion Jones, Tiger Woods and Barry Bonds.
"For [Tiger] Woods the allegations themselves didn’t even involve cheating on the golf course - and you can see how quickly sponsors withdrew in that case," he continued. "The situation may well come down to the contract situation itself. If they have a possible escape clause they may well take it - if not they may just shelve their current campaigns involving him."
RadioShack and LIVESTRONG
RadioShack have in fact done just this. The American has not been involved directly in any marketing for the company in a number of months. One possible strategy would be to attempt to sever the synonomous image of Armstrong and LIVESTRONG, and instead focus solely on the latter. Bruner heavily highlighted RadioShack's involvement with LIVESTRONG when Cyclingnews talked to him, and glossed over the Armstrong connection.
"A key focus of our work with the team has always been about supporting LIVESTRONG in the global fight against cancer and connecting our customers, associates and stores in this fight," Bruner said.
Sam North was slightly more cynical, concluding; "They have to look at it and consider what it is doing to their brand as a whole. If Nike or RadioShack feel that the public sentiment towards Armstrong has changed they will be likely to change their ties."
- Article published:
- June 3, 2011, 13:35
- Daniel Benson
Criticises nationalist tendencies in cycling
Gerard Vroomen has never shied away from the discussion on doping and in two recent blog posts on his personal website he raised issues over the media’s reporting of the issue. After a recent restructure at Cervelo, in which he stepped down from his position as CEO, the former manager of the Cervelo TestTeam was quick to point that the views posted on his blog were his alone but talked openly about his feelings on Ivan Basso, Fränk Shleck and the journalistic endeavour into doping.
“I’ve always spoken my mind on doping. I’ve said that the teams are part of the problem but so are the riders, the sponsors and the media. It’s hard to break out of that whole vicious circle,” Vroomen told Cyclingnews.
In his blog, Vroomen criticised the balanced reporting from the global media, saying that there was a lack of critical attitude in cycling (and sports) journalism in general.
“There is reporting, and there’s nothing wrong with that, and then there’s digging and some people choose not to do that. Some people’s jobs are just to report the riding and some people have to look further. My beef, and it seems that the wrong people have been offended, is that if you’re there to report and not to dig deep then you should at least refrain from the over the top reporting on the athletes. Especially in the US where there’s been an uncritical attitude and where reporting has gone over the top into making someone out to be the second coming of Christ, and when you can sense that not everything is right. There needs to be some balance and I don't think that’s the case.”
Vroomen added that the issue isn’t one that only exists on one side of the Atlantic, with nationalistic tendencies and motives at play.
“In Italy Ivan Basso can do no wrong, in Spain Alberto Contador can do no wrong. Sport is probably the most nationalist thing we’ve still got in the world. People in the US are extremely anti doping with anyone that’s caught when they’re Italian, Spanish or German, but at the same time they don’t want to know about Levi Leipheimer’s positive test from the 90s. It’s a strange attitude and of course the media is much focussed on giving people what they want so they also don’t focus on that.”
In 2006, during Cervelo’s first major alignment with a team - CSC – Ivan Basso won the Giro. It was an emphatic victory in which the Italian put over 9 minutes into his closest rival and at the time Vroomen told the media “this is a major milestone for everybody in the company, and it feels great to be able to share this success with everybody at Cervélo and at Team CSC."
However Basso was later embroiled in the Puerto doping scandal. He was banned for two years for ‘attempted doping’ but claims to this day that he won the 2006 Giro without the help of doping products. He has made a successful return to the sport; winning last year’s Giro and will head to this year’s Tour de France as a contender for yellow.
Vroomen told Cyclingnews that the 2006 Giro d’Italia was one of the hardest points of his time in the sport.
“The Giro in 2006 was one of the worst experiences of my life in cycling. I’d derive no pleasure from officially winning that race. I think that they should have taken that win away from him and I have no idea why they haven’t. You won't find me speaking about that race in any pleasant manner. For me that race doesn’t exist.”
“As soon as Basso was linked to Puerto and we saw the stuff they unearthed there I don’t know how you can say that race was clean. These guys didn’t just work with Fuentes for a couple of years and then stop for three weeks so they could ride the Giro.”
When asked if he and Cervelo were able to profit on the back of possible doping related successes, Vroomen explained that markets and return rates from wins are never that cut and dry.
“As to benefits from races, I think that’s genuinely overestimated. The best data I have was in 2008 when we won the Tour with Carlos Sastre. Our worst performing model was the model he rode to win the Tour de France. We saw zero boosts from his win. Overall the brand recognition grows and there’s no doubt to that but the individual wins do very little.”
Basso left CSC with Vroomen and CSC continuing their collaboration until the end of 2008. However one particular episode scarred Vroomen’s relationship with the sport after Fränk Schleck was linked to the Puerto story. He was found to have wired several thousand Euros to Fuentes but a press release issued by the team stated that the funds were for "training advice by experts who presumably worked with some of the biggest names in the sport," and that he "never used or attempted use of a prohibited substance or a prohibited method."
Vroomen used this example to illustrate the problems within sport’s governance and culture. “That’s an example that goes directly to the problems within sport, not just cycling. You can’t have somebody as a suspect of doping and then have the national federation make a judgement on it. It just doesn’t work.”
"The current situation of national federations handling doping cases also does the riders no favors. Whether guilty or innocent, the public doesn't get the sense that they are going through a fair process, so the rider gets damaged regardless."
“What happened with the Spanish federation and Contador was 100 per cent predictable and it’s the same in the Schleck case. It was no surprise that the Luxembourg federation decided not to do anything. I thought the real turning point with our entire pro cycling sponsorship was the press release sent out when the Schleck thing broke. That for me was really the end of it. That was so bad and it assumed cycling fans were so stupid that I just didn’t get that at all. That for me was the end.”
- Article published:
- June 3, 2011, 17:13
- Cycling News
Course may not have enough mountains for Danish rider
Michael Rasmussen thinks he can win the Tour of Norway. The Christina Watches captain is in fourth place after the second stage, only eight seconds down.
In Thursday's second stage, Rasmussen attacked out of the field on the final climb. It was not enough for the win, but he finished with the lead group of five, ten seconds ahead of the peloton.
“I wish that the mountains had been longer, because I felt like I was riding really well,” he said in a team press release. .
“My biggest challenge is that the race is perhaps not hard enough that I can make a difference. But I am relying on the queen stage, coming on Saturday.”
The team was recently awarded a wild-card invitation to the Tour of Denmark, and the Danish Cycling Union said that Rasmussen may be eligible to ride the world championships in Copenhagen this year.
- Article published:
- June 3, 2011, 19:10
- Cycling News
Up to the rider, organiser says
The Vuelta a Espana would welcome Alberto Contador with open arms. If Contador rides, “it would be great news for the Vuelta, which always tries to have the best,” according to Javier Gullien, director of race organiser Unipublic.
Contador, who recently won the Giro d'Italia, is set to ride the Tour de France in July.
He tested positive for Clenbuterol at last year's Tour, and the Spanish Federation dismissed the charges against him this spring. The International Cycling Union and the World Anti-Doping Agency have appealed that decision to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
The CAS hearing has been set for August 1-3, and it is possible that a decision could be announced before the Vuelta starts on August 20.
At this point, Jullien said, “the ball is in Contador's court,” reported the Spanish website as.com.
- Article published:
- June 3, 2011, 20:07
- Kirsten Frattini
Decorated sprinter to race in Philadelphia
Freddie Rodriguez has joined the US-based UCI Continental Team Exergy and will take to the starting line at the TD Bank Philadelphia International Cycling Championship on Sunday. The decorated sprinter will captain his new outfit during the one-day classic and is confident that his own fitness will carry through to a strong performance.
"I had kept my eye on Team Exergy, the team, riders, message and where they want to go in the future,” Rodriguez said. “I wanted a team that can use someone like myself to mentor the riders and help them grow and that I can continue to grow with. We decided that this was a good time to come on board. My fitness is up to the point where I feel like I am competitive.”
Rodriguez, 37, was born in Bogotá, Colombia and now resides with his family in Berkeley, California. He is a notable sprinter having raced for international teams Mapei, Domo-Farm Frites, Acqua e Sapone and Predictor-Lotto throughout his career.
“Freddie will fill many roles this year but we are most excited about the wealth of knowledge and experience he can share with our riders,” said Team Exergy partner Remi McManus. “Freddie is the most decorated cyclist racing in the US peloton and we are thrilled to have him.”
Rodriguez will debut for Team Exergy at a race with which he's very familiar, the TD Bank International Cycling championship, an event that doubled as the USPro Championships through 2005 whereby the first American to cross the line won the national title. Rodriguez won the stars and stripes jersey on three occasions in 2000, 2001 and 2004.
“I have high ambitions for this weekend,” Rodriguez said. “I have come into this race and have either won or been on the podium in the past. I think I’ve been on the podium at least five, maybe seven, times. I feel good, my testing and power files are up to par. My only weakness is the lack of high-end racing. The motivation is there and this is a good start because it is a race that I really love.”
He competed under the now defunct Rock Racing team for two seasons, in 2008 and 2009. He spent last season and much of this year competing for the local team Specialized Racing that is linked to his Fast Freddie Rodriguez Foundation. He placed sixth at the Merco Cycling Classic Downtown Grand Prix in March and contested several other California-based events this spring.
“Last March I was left without a team when Rock Racing folded and I was building a house and had a new born, so we had a lot going on,” Rodriguez said. “I decided it was better to concentrate on my family and get everyone situated. I spent that year launching my own clothing company [Prooff] and the Fast Freddie Foundation so we teamed up with Team Specialized development and work with kids.”
Team Exergy also added twin brothers Kevin and Conor Mullervy to its roster.
The team's roster also includes Andres Diaz, Carlos Alzate, Matt Cooke, Chris Hong, Kai Applequist, Eric Barlevev, Sam Johnson, Erik Slack, Ben Chaddock and Quinn Keogh.
"These additions were yet another step toward building the best possible team for the future,” McManus said. “I think I speak for all us when I say we are very excited to bring Freddie and the Gingers into the fold. These guys are not only good racers they have ties to their communities and charities, which is a very important aspect within our team."