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Second Edition Cycling News, Friday, March 9, 2012

Date published:
March 9, 2012, 22:00
  • Debate rages over Gilbert’s readiness for Milan-San Remo

    Philippe Gilbert (BMC)
    Article published:
    March 9, 2012, 10:20
    By:
    Cycling News

    Lelangue says Belgian will be in the hunt, others disagree

    He may have made the podium in 2011, repeating his performance of 2008, but question marks remain as to whether Philippe Gilbert (BMC) will be in the hunt for his first Milan–San Remo victory on Saturday week.

    Gilbert, currently racing at Tirreno–Adriatico and over three minutes behind blue jersey wearer and 2011 Milan–San Remo winner Matt Goss (GreeEdge), has continually downplayed his own form over the opening few weeks of the 2012 season with little concern. However, the commentary surrounding his performances continues with the opening classic of the year just around the corner.

    "His goals are later in the year," BMC team manager John Lelangue told Het Nieuwsblad. "This is an Olympic year, it pays to remember. The Walloon classics, the Tour, the Olympics and the World Cup. The season is long, but I assure you: he is not bad. He will be there in Milan-San Remo."

    Others aren't as sure of the 2011 Velo d'Or winner's ability to turn his form around in such an authoritative manner.

    Omega Pharma-Quick Step DS, Rik Van Slycke said that "a miracle" would be required for Gilbert to win Milan–San Remo.

    "Look, you should never write off a champion," Van Slycke admitted. "He will be there for the goals he has set, like Liege-Bastogne-Liege and the Amstel Gold Race, but the Primavera this year he cannot win... That conditional backlog of work will not go away... In a month he can shine again, but not in less than 10 days."

    Gilbert's former Lotto teammate Jelle Vanendert said that having spent a fair portion of Thursday's stage riding next to the 29-year-old in the bunch, he didn't believe him to be in the same form as the same time last season.

    "Phil is excited, we chatted good, but I also see that he is not in form," Vanendert said. "The Primavera is too early. He also pulls some weight with it, but hey, me too. This is normal for this time of year. "

    Regardless, Gilbert continues to maintain his indifference to the subject, quoted in Het Nieuwsblad as joking: "It's panic in Belgium, hey."

     

  • Video: NetApp to the Giro d'Italia “Against all Odds”

    Smiling NetApp faces at the Mallorca training camp
    Article published:
    March 9, 2012, 10:45
    By:
    Cycling News

    German Professional Continental team looks to its first grand tour

    Team NetApp is going to the Giro d'Italia this year “Against all Odds”  -- which is also the name of its new video series describing its preparations for its first grand tour. Cyclingnews will follow the small German team as its prepares for the challenge.

    The Professional Continental team surprised many when it was awarded a wildcard invitation to this year's Giro. Race organiser Michele Acquarone said that he made the decision based on the team's successful marketing, which he said “can give the Giro a big boost in terms of promotion and communication on the German market and elsewhere. The real gamble is on a sporting level – will NetApp succeed in making a good impression in as tough and demanding a race as the Giro.”

    The team is doing its best to achieve and maintain a high sporting level.  There was a large turnover in riders, with about the half the team being replaced.  It recently suffered the loss of Steven Cozza, who resigned because of health problems, but also announced the signing of Marcel Wyss, who has twice ridden the Giro.

    A grand tour will be new ground for most of the riders, though, but as the video points out:  “They are unknown ... they are dedicated ... they are brave.”

  • RadioShack-Nissan said to have signed up for “breakaway” cycling league

    The television helicopter gets up close to the peloton
    Article published:
    March 9, 2012, 11:57
    By:
    Cycling News

    UCI confirms contact with organisation group

    Plans for the proposed “breakaway league” continue to take form, with RadioShack-Nissan said to be one of eight elite teams which has agreed to participate. A sport marketing company involved in the deal has already contacted the UCI for approval of World Series Cycling in 2014, the Bloomberg news agency reported.

    Gifted Group Ltd. has sought approval for the ten-race series, according to anonymous sources. UCI spokesman Enrico Carpani confirmed the the contact but did not comment further.

    As Cyclingnews reported last November, Rothschild's and Gifted Group are planning the new race series, which would involve current trade teams participating in ten new four-day races, all of which would have the same specific format. The main reason for the new league however, is financial, as the teams would share in the income.

    The eight teams which have signed up will get 64 percent of the equity, unlike the current UCI situation, under which they get nothing.

    “This is potentially a real change in the balance of power in cycling,” Simon Chadwick professor of  sports business strategy at Coventry University said. “The teams are being driven by the marketplace instead of history.”

    The only other team name mentioned was FDJ, which is said to be amongst those who will not participate.

    The series is said to be based on football's Champions League, but could be a “difficult sell” outside of the tradtional European cycling countries, Chadwick said.

    “Cycling has no history, no established market and no big stars in new and emerging markets. The acid test is how good they are at packaging this and selling it.”

  • Basso out of Paris-Nice

    Ivan Basso crashed during the stage but carried on
    Article published:
    March 9, 2012, 13:59
    By:
    Cycling News

    Still suffering from second stage crash injuries

    Ivan Basso of Liquigas-Cannondale has had to give in to injuries resulting from a crash in the second stage of Paris-Nice. He abandoned the race after 100km in Friday's sixth stage.

    Basso crashed 72km in on the second stage, coming away with only abrasions and a bruised elbow. He got back on his bike and finished 11 minutes down, dashing his hopes for the overall classification.

    He has continued to struggle since then, losing 10 minutes on the fourth stage and nearly eight minutes on Thursday's fifth stage.

    It is the second consecutive year that the Italian has been hampered by crash injuries. Last year a training crash on Mt. Etna in May put an end to his plans to challenge for the Tour de France title.

  • "Harder" Tour de Pologne to welcome riders in 2012

    Peter Sagan won the 2011 Tour de Pologne
    Article published:
    March 9, 2012, 17:22
    By:
    Cycling News

    Organisers go for balanced but more difficult parcours

    The Tour de Pologne is to include more climbing, and be generally harder in 2012 with race organiser Czeslaw Lang revealing several key details of this year's course to whet the appetite of fans and riders before the full route is announced early next month. Lang says the course will keep much of its 'familiar balance', but responding to claims from riders of the race being too easy, has been toughened things up this year.

    "We can say that once again this year we've done what we could to design a technical and spectacular route with a good balance between mountain stages for attackers and men going for the general classification, and stages dedicated to the sprinters," said Lang. "We also plan to have a few more difficult stages at the start of the race, rather than deciding things on the final few days."

    Historically the Tour de Pologne has featured several flat days, with a time trial and single hard 'queen stage' the only decisive days for the general classification. According to Lang the course will again be based largely out of the south of the country, but will be including several new peaks. Continuing with tradition, the Zakopane and Bukowina Tatrzanska have been maintained in the 2012 race, as has the seven stage format.

    "Again this year the route will cover the southern central part of the country, which is where there are the most mountains," explains Lang. "We would always like to bring the race to all the cities, we always have a lot of requests and this makes us very happy, but unfortunately it isn't possible; Poland has a vast territory; this is why we try to rotate, edition after edition, to try to touch as many different areas of the country as we can."

    The Tour de Pologne covers 1100 kilometres in 2012, starting in Karpacz on July 10 and finishing in Krakow on the 16th. 2012 is the first time the race has been run during the Tour de France, with the broadcast conflict with this year's London Olympic Games prompting the change.

  • Tirreno-Adriatico stage 4 re-routed due to weather

    A snowy pass during stage 5 of the Tirreno Adriatico
    Article published:
    March 9, 2012, 18:27
    By:
    Cycling News

    Passo Lanciano descent deemed hazardous

    Organisers of Tirreno-Adriatico announced this afternoon that route of stage 4 will be altered due to "hazardous weather conditions". The stage from Amelia to Chieti will skip the Passo Lanciano, and the planned king of the mountain points will instead take place at the climb of Valico della Forchetta at kilometer 212.

    There was a light dusting of snow on the mountain today, and with temperatures forecast to be below freezing, the descent from the mountain was deemed to be too dangerous.

    "After Lettomanoppello, the stage will pass through Manoppello-Serramonacesca - Roccamontepiano and afterwards it will go back to its original itinerary," a race statement read.

    The entire stage distance remains unaltered, and will be a total of 252 kilometers.

  • Logo row threatens Euskaltel sponsorship deal

    Article published:
    March 9, 2012, 19:39
    By:
    Peter Cossins

    Dispute blows up over colour and capitalisation of word 'Euskadi' on team's kit

    An odd dispute over the colour and case of a word on the Euskaltel team jersey could lead to the squad losing a significant amount of financial backing from the Basque government. The row has blown up over the word 'Euskadi', which has long featured in green upper and lower case lettering below the name of principal sponsor Euskaltel.

    This green-lettered logo belongs to the Euskadi Foundation that set up the team 20 years ago and still runs it. However, the Basque government's Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Tourism, which is providing the team with €400,000 this season, is insisting that the logo be substituted with their own version in white and upper case lettering. The ministry's logo is used to promote tourism within the Basque Country.

    According to reports in the Spanish press, the ministry made a request in January for the logo to be changed in April to coincide with the running of the Tour of the Basque Country. The ministry stated: "In the case of this not happening, the contract will be terminated without the right to any compensation."

    The ministry has also asked for the words 'Pays Basque', which appear on the jersey when the team races in France, to be clarified by the addition of the word 'Espagne' in order to prevent unwitting promotion of the French Basque Country.

    Similarly, the ministry wants the team's jersey to bear the words 'Paese Baschi Spagna' when it is racing in Italy, 'Baskenland Spanien' when in Germany and 'Basque Country Spain' when in other countries.

    However, the requests came after the team's 2012 kit had already been branded. Consequently, Euskaltel team boss and Euskadi Foundation president Miguel Madariaga has said that he won't change make the change. "It's not that we don't want to, it's simply down to the fact that they asked us to do this in January when everything had already been manufactured and we couldn't change the clothing," he told El País. "It would require a significant investment because we would also have to repaint 15 vehicles, including cars, buses, camper vans and trucks. If they pay for the cost of this, we will do it."

    Madariaga estimates it will take "€90-100,000" to cover the work. However, he added that even if the money were to be made available, he would still be reluctant to make the change because a number of other provincial bodies within the Basque Country that have long provided significant financial backing identify with the existing Euskadi logo.

    Madariaga is due to meet with the representatives from the ministry on March 22. Asked about the ministry's threat to pull all backing this year and next, amounting to €900,000 in total, he pointed out that he doesn't even know yet whether the team will continue next season as discussions with key backers are still ongoing.

    This debate provides Madariaga with another headache as he attempts to prolong his squad's life. He has already admitted that he is contemplating relaxing the rule on hiring only Basque or Basque-schooled riders in order to strengthen the line-up and open up new avenues of sponsorship.

  • Davison's killer instinct back for Oceania Championships

    Luke Davison powers towards the line in the men's under 23 time trial.
    Article published:
    March 9, 2012, 21:10
    By:
    Alex Hinds

    Former junior world champ back to his ominous best, targets time trial

    Luke Davison (Budget Forklifts) is a markedly changed rider from the brash youngster that won three world championship titles in South Africa nearly four years ago. A deserved winner of the Junior Australian Track cyclist of the year in 2008 for his efforts, Davison was burdened with huge expectations; expectations that perhaps hindered his progression.

    An ill-fated year with the AIS squad in 2009 burned Davison out, and for over a year, to the dismay of his coaches, he hung up the bike. In many ways it was a year Davison needed, he went into full-time work often riding his bike less than an hour a week if at all, but he matured during that time, and is now back on the bike and transformed.

    When he did make his return to cycling, through a leg-up from SASI (South Australian Institute of Sport) director Tim Decker, Davison said that his outlook on cycling had changed. More focused, more grounded, and enjoying riding again he rode with Jayco-2XU for the first half of 2011 before making a switch to continental outfit Budget Forklifts. That move has seen Davison flourishing once more, and with the Oceania Championships just a week away Davison told Cyclingnews that the confidence is back, and he's rediscovered that hunger for success.

    "You’ve got to remember how to win, and that takes a while. But then the hunger develops and you start hunting out the wheels you need to be close to, naturally that means you ride closer to the front, and you have to be stronger to do that. It’s a snowball effect, and you end up being in the mix a lot more."

    The Australian explained that with the difficulty of the road race course in New Zealand unsuited to his characteristics he's put all his eggs in one basket as he aims for gold in the time trial.

    "All my training over the last month has been time trial specific. Three or four sessions per week [with the SASI squad in Adelaide] where that’s all it’s been about, so hopefully that can translate into a good result," said Davison.

    Though not normally a specialist in the time trial, Davison showed he can feature amongst the best in the discipline, with a sixth place at nationals behind Jay McCarthy and Rohan Dennis - neither of which will be at Oceanias. Since then he said that he's been clocking some strong numbers in training, and he's confident that given things coming together on the day he's in with a strong chance.

    "The confidence is there, you can’t start a 40 kilometre time trial not thinking you can win it - then you’re already behind the eight ball. I think there are four or five guys who can win - guys like Calvin Watson who is flying at the moment and [Damien] Howson. If [Campbell] Flakemore has held his form from nationals then he’ll be hard to beat as well. I’ve placed a lot of emphasis on Oceanias because it’s a major chance for me to make that nationals squad, and earn a place for l’Avenir, or under 23 worlds."

    The Oceania Road Championships start March 16.