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Second Edition Cycling News, Friday, May 6, 2011

Date published:
May 06, 2011, 1:00 BST
  • Two victories for Kittel in Dunkerque

    Marcel Kittel (Skil-Shimano) dons his second leader's jersey
    Article published:
    May 06, 2011, 9:28 BST
    By:
    Cycling News

    German rider holds on to leader's jersey despite controversy

    Skil-Shimano powerhouse Marcel Kittel has held on to the overall lead at the Four Days of Dunkirk, winning his second stage in a row on Thursday. Crossing the line in first position in another bunch sprint at the end of stage two, the German moreover reclaimed his honour after having been accused of getting pushed by a teammate in the finale of the first stage, which he had won ahead of Denis Galimzyanov (Katusha).

    "Of course, this second victory means even more to me," explained the 22-year-old to L'Equipe. "I was really offended when they accused me of cheating. I wanted to show that I also have honour."

    It was the Russian Katusha team around second-placed Galimzyanov that claimed they had seen Kittel getting a push prior to his first victory on Wednesday, but no evidence in the form of photos or TV images could be found to back up their allegations. Kittel and his teammates denied having cheated.

    "They all assured me that nothing happened," said Skil-Shimano directeur sportif Christian Guiberteau. "I want to believe them."

    The German moreover said that he had been on his own in the last kilometre to the line. "It would have been impossible to get a push. I was disappointed and sad to hear these accusations, even more so as there was no proof," added Kittel, who finally talked things over with Galimzyanov during stage two. "He said he was sorry and assured me that the case was closed."

    Stage two on Thursday included a cobblestone sector, to be passed three times on a final circuit around the finish in Iwuy. The bunch caught all the late attacks in time for the flamme rouge, and...

  • Bak looks to his own chances in Giro d'Italia after helping Cavendish

    Lars Bak (HTC-Columbia) came in third.
    Article published:
    May 06, 2011, 11:14 BST
    By:
    Cycling News

    HTC-Highroad Dane calls climbs insane

    Lars Bak's primary mission at the Giro d'Italia will be to help Mark Cavendish win sprints, but the HTC-Highroad rider will also be looking out for his own chances in an escape group.

    "If the chance presents itself, I would like to get in a break group and ride for a stage win, but the first week to ten days it is 100 per cent for Mark Cavendish, and I'm fine with that,” he told feltet.dk.

    "The team's ambition is that we will come and be ready for the first week, because we want to win the team time trial the first day and win as many stages as possible with Mark Cavendish."

    The 31-year-old, in his second season with the US-based team, says HTC is well set up for the opening stage. “We come to the team time trial with a strong team and we're good at it, so I think we have a good chance to win it,” he said.

    Plus, he is the team's secret weapon. “The last two times I've ridden a team time trial in a Grand Tour, we've won, so why not? Third time's a charm.”

    Any stage wins for the team would likely come before the climbing starts, though. "If you look at the profile, it's insanely hard. I heard David Millar said that it is pure massacre.I looked at the route profiles, and as I see it, it's 11 regular mountain stages, so I think if we are to pick up some stage wins, it should probably be within the first week so that is where we put our energy."

  • Contador aiming for repeat of 2008 triumph at the Giro d’Italia

    Alberto Contador (Saxo Bank-SunGard)
    Article published:
    May 06, 2011, 11:21 BST
    By:
    Barry Ryan

    Clenbuterol case did not influence decision to race, says Spaniard

    Alberto Contador (Saxo Bank-SunGard) has insisted that his decision to ride the Giro d’Italia has not been influenced by the possibility that he might be forced to forgo the Tour de France.

    The Spaniard returned a positive test for Clenbuterol at last year’s Tour, but was cleared to race by his national federation. The UCI and WADA have since then appealed the matter to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, with a verdict expected in June.

    Speaking at Saxo Bank-SunGard’s pre-Giro press conference in Alpignano, however, Contador maintained that the corsa rosa was always in his thinking for 2011, as he seeks to repeat his victory of three seasons ago.

    “I chose the Giro because I had such good memories of 2008 and because of that I wanted to come back,” Contador said. “I was also thinking of doing the Tour and possibly even the Vuelta too, but for now I’ve decided to come to the Giro without thinking of the Tour or any other problems.”

    While Contador rode that victorious 2008 Giro in the knowledge that his Astana team would not be riding the Tour, this time around he claims that he has the Giro-Tour double in his sights. Nonetheless, his participation in July remains in shrouded in doubt, and he acknowledged that riding the Giro is not the ideal build-up to the Tour.

    “It is something beautiful and different to try for both,” he said. “At each race I will try to fight for victory, but it will be tough. I know the Giro is...

  • "Great atmosphere" at Geox ahead of Giro d'Italia

    The Geox Giro team ride up the climb together
    Article published:
    May 06, 2011, 13:57 BST
    By:
    Cycling News

    Photo gallery: Menchov, Sastre recon Colle delle Finestre dirt pass

    Two days before the start of the Giro d'Italia, team Geox-TMC went out on a recon ride over the Colle delle Finestre dirt pass, the penultimate climb on the 20th stage of this year's Giro. At the press conference following the training ride, the squad presented itself in excellent condition, ready to take on the challenges of the three-week endeavour.

    "We've created a great atmosphere on the team. The guys are all tight and Denis (Menchov) and Carlos (Sastre) have managed to transmit motivation and tranquillity to the entire group," explained directeur sportif Stefano Zanini. "We're setting off knowing that we've prepared very well for the pink race, which is a very important objective for us."

    Both team leaders were aware of the difficult task ahead, but not without confidence. "It's going to be quite a hard Giro d'Italia, from the first stage to the last. I think it'll be the most challenging out of all the ones I've faced so far," said Carlos Sastre.

    "There are lots of important stages. The Zoncolan is very tough, but so are the Grossglockner, the super-stage in the Dolomites with the Gardeccia and the Colle delle Finestre in the same stage [sic - he probably means stage 15], and don't underestimate the first uphill finishes and the initial TTT."

    Denis Menchov agreed. "It's a very tough Giro but it will be for us as it will be for all the other guys vying for the final victory," he commented. "I think our team is good and ready to play a role in the fight for Pink."

     

  • Giro d'Italia TTT start times announced

    Andre Greipel (Omega Pharma-Lotto) with his face taped up after crashing during the TTT warmup
    Article published:
    May 06, 2011, 15:54 BST
    By:
    Cycling News

    Join Cyclingnews' live coverage from 14:30 BST

    Giro d'Italia organiser RCS Sport has announced the official start times for the opening team time trial of the three-week race held on Saturday in Turin. Omega Pharma-Lotto will be the first team of a total of 23 squads to set out on the 19.3km course at 15.50 CET.

    The gaps between the teams have been set to four minutes. Russian squad Katusha will be the second outfit to start at 15.54, followed by Astana at 15.58. Spanish Movistar team will be the last to tackle the course at 17.18.

    Full start times list as follows:

    1 Omega Pharma - Lotto 15.50
    2 Katusha Team 15.54
    3 Pro Team Astana 15.58
    4 Androni Giocattoli 16.02
    5 Colnago - Csf Inox 16.06
    6 Acqua & Sapone 16.10
    7 Euskaltel - Euskadi 16.14
    8 Rabobank Cycling Team 16.18
    9 Sky Procycling 16.22
    10 Geox - TMC 16.26
    11 Farnese Vini - Neri Sottoli 16.30
    12 Saxo Bank Sungard 16.34
    13 BMC Racing Team 16.38
    14 HTC - Highroad 16.42
    15 Team Garmin - Cervelo 16.46
    16 Lampre - Isd 16.50
    17 Liquigas - Cannondale 16.54
    18 Team Leopard - Trek 16.58
    19 Ag2R La Mondiale 17.02
    20 Quickstep Cycling Team 17.06
    21 Vacansoleil - Dcm 17.10
    22 Team Radioshack 17.14
    23 Movistar Team 17.18

    There will be one intermediate time split at km 9.1 along the course which starts on the outskirts of town and finishes in the city centre. Cyclingnews will bring you Live online coverage of the event as of 15.30 CET, 14:30 BST. Joining us will be Christian Vande Velde, Jonathan Vaughters, Michael Creed and Daniel Friebe.
     

  • Wegmann looking to survive Giro d'Italia to the end

    Fabian Wegmann (Leopard Trek)
    Article published:
    May 06, 2011, 18:48 BST
    By:
    Cycling News

    Leopard Trek rider sees no repeat of winning mountain jersey

    Fabian Wegmann won the mountains jersey in his first Grand Tour, the 2004 Giro d'Italia, but his goal this year is simply to survive the climbs and arrive in Milan on May 29.

    Now riding for Leopard Trek, the 30-year-old hopes for his own chance in the first week of the race. “A stage win would be nice. Especially the first stages are good for me, going by the profile, and so I will give it a try,” he told Yahoo.de. “That is one of the reasons I am going to the Giro and am focusing on the first half.”

    He is not looking forward to the climbs in the second half of the three-week race. “The Giro wants to match the Tour, but such extremes aren't really the right way. I have to ask myself whether harder and steeper really makes it more interesting.”

    At any rate, there won't be a repeat of the German winning the maglia verde as best climber, as he did seven years ago. “The Giro wasn't nearly as hard, that has definitely changed,” Wegmann noted. “We did ride the Gavia pass, but not every day for a week – which is how you can compare it to this year.

    “I got my mountain jersey through countless attacks, and was always in escape groups, especially in the not-so-difficult stages. This year you can't get the jersey that way.”

    The whole team will be looking for stage wins rather than having any overall title hopes. “Everyone will look for their chance and go for stage wins, especially since our top sprinter Daniele Bennati unfortunately won't be there. For the GC only Oliver Zaugg comes into question, but there won't be more than a place...

  • HTC-Highroad hosts pre-Amgen Tour of California gala

    Matt Goss prevails in the 2011 Milan-San Remo.
    Article published:
    May 06, 2011, 19:44 BST
    By:
    Kirsten Frattini

    Fans can meet the team at Right To Play benefit

    HTC-Highroad is hosting a gala to benefit its long-time affiliate and charitable organization, Right To Play, on May 9 at the Cynergy Cycles in Santa Monica, California. The upscale fundraising event will allow fans to meet the eight-rider team that will be racing at the Amgen Tour of California.

    Guests will have a rare opportunity to meet the HTC-Highroad’s Amgen Tour of California team that includes Bernhard Eisel, Matthew Goss, Bert Grabsch, Leigh Howard, Danny Pate, Tejay Van Garderen, Martin Velits and Peter Velits along with female athletes Evie Stevens and Ally Statcher. Also making an appearance are team owner Bob Stapleton and directeur sportifs Rolf Aldag, Allan Peiper and Brian Holm and staff.

    Tickets for the event cost $100 US, available through the Cynergy Cycles website, where all proceed will go to Right To Play.

    "We hope to get a big crowd," Scrymgeour said. "It's a great time for cycling in California leading up to the Amgen Tour of California, which is growing every year. It's particularly great to be able to bring some of our women into town for the time trial and they're exited to attend this event too."

    According to an event press release, the gala will run from 6 PM to 10 PM beginning with an introduction by the Master of Ceremonies Phil Keoghan who will present HTC-Highroad’s 2011 Amgen Tour of California squad. Tickets include a dinner, drinks, gift bags, entry to win a Specialized HTC-Highroad frameset, and entertainment by Milly De Mori of Milan.

    Founded on the legacy of the Lillehammer Olympics, Right to Play’s vision is to create a healthier and safer world through the power of sport and play. The group aims to improve the lives of children in some of the most disadvantaged areas of the world by using sport and play for the purposes of development, health...

  • Gilbert "very disappointed" by 2012 Tour de France start in Liège

    Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma-Lotto) was mobbed by the media and the crowds
    Article published:
    May 06, 2011, 21:20 BST
    By:
    Cycling News

    Belgian star may not line up for lack of hills

    Even though the 2012 Tour de France will celebrate its Grand Départ in his backyard, Philippe Gilbert has said that he will not line up at the start in Liège next year. The Classics specialist told Belgian TV RTBF that he was "very disappointed with the parcours" that the organisers have drawn up, and indicated he might not race the event at all.

    The 2012 Tour de France is due to start with a traditional prologue in Liège, Belgium, after which stage one will see the riders embark on a loop from Liège to Seraing in the Ardennes region famous for its Spring classics. But the route of this first stage, according to Gilbert, is more likely to favour a bunch sprint than successful breakaways.

    "It's as if the Tour started in England and there would be no stage likely to end in a bunch sprint for Mark Cavendish," said Belgian sports journalist Rodrigo Beenkens. "I don't understand why they haven't thought of that."

    But Gilbert could also opt not to race the Tour de France next year because of another reason: the Worlds in Valkenburg, Netherlands. The parcours is much more suited to the punchy rider and features the Cauberg climb, which Gilbert knows well for having celebrated his two victories of the Amstel Gold Race there in 2010 and 2011. With Valkenburg also being very close to his home in the Ardennes, Gilbert is certain to have massive flocks of supporters cheering him on in the Netherlands in September 2012, too.

    The Omega Pharma-Lotto rider, who just achieved a historic quadruple, is nevertheless scheduled to take the start of this year's Tour in the Vendée region of Western France. The first few stages through Brittany could be to his taste as there are plenty of short climbs on the menu.