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Second Edition Cycling News, Friday, September 11, 2009

Date published:
September 11, 2009, 1:00 BST
  • Irizar joins Armstrong's RadioShack

    Markel Irizar (Euskaltel-Euskadi) was the surprise of the day.
    Article published:
    September 11, 2009, 12:03 BST
    Gregor Brown

    Spaniard rides next two seasons with Armstrong, who lent support in cancer fight

    Spain's Markel Irizar will ride at RadioShack with Lance Armstrong, who lent support during his battle with cancer. Irizar, 29, signed for the next two seasons, according to El Diario Vasco.

    Irizar leaves home, Basque team Euskaltel-Euskadi after five years. He worked with the team on a renewal contract, but then decided to ride with Armstrong's new RadioShack team.

    Armstrong lent his support with a letter when Irizar went through treatment for testicular cancer in 2002. He recovered completely, joined team Euskaltel-Euskadi in 2004 and later met Armstrong at races.

    Doctors diagnosed Armstrong with testicular cancer in 1996. The cancer went into remission and he returned to win seven editions Tour de France.

    On July 23, Armstrong announced that  American company RadioShack would sponsor the team for two years.

    Irizar finished 18th overall and won the mountains classification at this year's Tour Down Under. At RadioShack he will join Haimar Zubeldia, who is also from the Basque province Gipuzkoal.

    Irizar refused to comment on his new team at the Vuelta a España this morning.

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  • Wiggins to Worlds for time trial, no road race

    Bradley Wiggins (Garmin-Slipstream)
    Article published:
    September 11, 2009, 12:17 BST
    Richard Tyler

    Silence on Sky rumours, but Wiggins has started planning for 2010

    Bradley Wiggins said on Friday that he will pull out of this month's World Championships road race and will focus instead on the individual time trial in Mendrisio, Switzerland. While he refused to be drawn on speculation that has linked him with a move to Team Sky, the Garmin rider said he had started to consider his objectives for next season.

    "[The Worlds] is the kind of race you don’t go into half-heartedly, it's a tough race and a really hard course," he said at a press conference at Garmin's British headquarters in Southhampton on Friday. "I think there are other people that can probably do a better job than me on the day, so I'd rather hold my hands up and give that spot to someone else."

    Wiggins said that the Worlds time trial has been his primary objective since finishing fourth overall in this year's Tour de France. He said his decision to pull out of the road race had been made after speaking to compatriot and Garmin teammate David Millar, who is expected to be one of British team's main hopes for the 262 kilometre race.

    "David Millar told me he'd be alright on his own [at the Worlds] so I'm probably going to pull out of the road race now. I don't really fancy 19 laps of the Worlds course. There are a lot of people vying for the nine positions [on the team] and I don't want to take a spot just for the sake of taking a spot."

    Wiggins refused to comment on rumours linking him with a move to Team Sky for 2010, but did indicate that his thoughts have turned towards his preparation and racing programme for next season.

    "I have already started planning for next year; I've got a rough outline of what I think I need to do. I think the plan is just to keep the ball rolling without reflecting too much on this year," he said. "Stage one for me this year was the Tour [de France], but the Tour's long gone now and everyone knows what happened, so we could keep talking about it for the next year or two and never really...

  • Basso faces 'hellish' Vuelta stages

    Italy's Ivan Basso (Liquigas) at the Vuelta a España
    Article published:
    September 11, 2009, 14:27 BST
    Gregor Brown

    Italian Ivan Basso faces three difficult Vuelta a España stages, within grasp of gold jersey

    Italy's Ivan Basso (Liquigas) faces three consecutive mountain stages starting today. He is 53 seconds behind the Vuelta a España race leader, Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne).

    "Three hellish stages are waiting for us. The race becomes hard, like I like it," said Basso. "Long climbs, the right type terrain, days where the differences come via resistance."

    Basso, 31, faces a 179.3-kilometre stage that finishes up the 13.3-kilometre Alto de Velefique climb today. The stage also starts with the Alto de Velefique and then the Calar Alto and Castro de Filabres climb, which leaves 16 kilometres to the base of the second ascent of Velefique.

    Spaniard Valverde leads the Vuelta by seven seconds over Australia's Cadel Evans (Silence-Lotto). Netherlands' Robert Gesink (Rabobank) is in third place at 36 seconds, USA's Tom Danielson (Garmin-Slipstream) is fourth at 51 seconds and Basso is fifth.

    "Every day holds surprises and you have to be smart to benefit from them," said Basso. "I have always insist on patience because a Grand Tour is only won on the last day, before then anything can happen."

    Basso's patience will continue to be tested on the weekend's stages, both stages end with a climb. Saturday stage covers 172.4 kilometres and ends with the Sierra Nevada, 16.9 kilometres long and an average of 5.5 percent gradient. Sunday's stage covers 157 kilometres to La Pandera, 8.4 kilometres and an eight percent average.

    It is Basso's first time to race the Vuelta a España. He finished fifth in this year's Giro d'Italia and won the 2006 edition. He placed second in the 2005 Tour de France.

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  • Evans and Lloyd ready for Vuelta's mountains

    Cadel Evans (Silence-Lotto) looking cool, calm and collected during the stage
    Article published:
    September 11, 2009, 15:16 BST
    Shane Stokes

    Australian Silence-Lotto teammates look ahead to the Vuelta's upcoming mountain stages

    Today is another crucial Vuelta a España stage for the Silence-Lotto leader Cadel Evans, who will start the stage just seven seconds behind race leader Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne). A strong performance over the next three days would boost his campaign to win his first Grand Tour.

    "I feel pretty good," he told Cyclingnews at the start this morning. "We will see when we get there, and we will see who is good. It is the first of three hard days."

    Evans will at the very least hope to limit any gains by his rivals but, if he is able he will try to attack himself.

    Apart from Valverde, who is going well, Evans is keeping his eye on another Spanish rider. "I think Sam Sánchez is going to come up on what we saw in the first week... he is going to be a dangerous one."

    Evans' teammate Matthew Lloyd anticipates a big battle today and on the following two stages. "It is going to be large," he said. "Cadel is strong enough to win the race, but how the next three days unfold is going to be the deciding factor.

    "He is motivated, especially after the Tour de France. He wants to get something back. I will try to put him in a place to do it and see what he can come up with."

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    Lloyd had a bad crash in the Amstel Gold Race in April, but returned to ride the Tour de France. He is continuing to build his condition.

    "It takes a long time to get perfect form back. The Tour was pretty good – I wasn't expecting anything special, but the Vuelta has been pretty nice."

    He added that he hopes to ride the Worlds after the Vuelta a España.

  • Astarloza blames positive on training session, Horrillo back on bike

    Mikel Astarloza (Euskaltel-Euskadi) on the podium after his stage win.
    Article published:
    September 11, 2009, 15:26 BST
    Peter Cossins

    Basque rider's defence detailed

    Details have emerged in the Basque press regarding the defence Euskaltel's Mikel Astarloza is likely to put up against his positive test for EPO in June, which could see him stripped off his Tour de France stage win in July.

    According to Deia, that defence is being organised by ex-pro and now lawyer José Rodríguez, who believes that Astarloza's problems stem from a session on his home trainer in a hyperbaric tent immediately prior to undergoing a random test on June 26. Hyperbaric tents are designed to replicate the effects of riding at altitude, thereby stimulating the natural production of red blood cells and boosting the haematocrit level.

    "The fact that two minutes before [the testers turned up] he had been on the home trainer in this tent altered his values to the point where it led to errors being made when the results were analysed," Rodríguez told Deia. "This isn't something that the scientists have made up. Professional studies have been published on this subject." Rodríguez added that "if the control had been done an hour later we would not now be talking about the Astarloza case."

    Another Basque rider in the news is Pedro Horrillo. The Rabobank rider suffered a horrific crash at the Giro d'Italia in mid-May. Despite initial fears that he may never ride again, Horrillo has been gently easing his way back into the saddle, first on a home trainer, then on a tourist bike with his young son sat in a seat on the back. On Wednesday, for the first time since the crash, Horrillo donned his Rabobank kit and headed out for a training ride. He hopes to return to racing next season.

  • Farrar aims for Paris-Tours to complete impressive year

    Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Slipstream) wins Vuelta a España's stage to Caravaca de la Cruz, Spain,
    Article published:
    September 11, 2009, 15:46 BST
    Gregor Brown

    French event to cap off American's season

    Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Slipstream) is looking ahead after winning his first Grand Tour stage Wednesday at the Vuelta a España. He is aiming for the sprinters' one-day Classic, Paris-Tours, to top off what has already been an impressive season.

    "My last objective for the year is Paris-Tours," Farrar told Cyclingnews. "The race really suits me well, I came pretty close last year. It will be a matter of my body holding up and having good legs, it's been a long season and the race is almost a month away."

    Farrar, 25, raced his first Grand Tour, the Giro d'Italia, in May. He finished second four times: twice to Cavendish and Petacchi. He had  similar results at the Tour de France, where he placed second twice to Cavendish. But in the Vuelta, he finally claimed his first Grand Tour stage win in Caravaca de la Cruz.

    "It was fantastic," he continued. "It is something I have been chasing all season. I was starting to wonder if it would happen or not this year because I have had so many second places and I was running out of time in the Vuelta to make it happen. It was the last day possible and it came together for me."

    Farrar progressed throughout the year, taking what was then his biggest win to date in stage three of Italy's Tirreno-Adriatico. Farrar won ahead of established sprinters Alessandro Petacchi, Thor Hushovd and Mark Cavendish.

    After a string of second places in the Grand Tours, Farrar won the Vattenfall Cyclassics in Hamburg, Germany. His good form continued in the Eneco Tour, where he won three stages.

    "I had a big win in March at Tirreno, but I have become better overall as a rider since then. In March I would not have been able to make it over the climb in that Vuelta stage I won. Getting into the Grand Tours and doing those types of races have raised my level."

    Farrar pulled out of the Vuelta on yesterday's rest stage to prepare for the season finale. He...

  • Chavanel "still motivated" for Mendrisio

    Sylvan Chavanel (Quick Step) beems with joy on the podium.
    Article published:
    September 11, 2009, 18:19 BST
    Hedwig Kröner

    Frenchman to Worlds with team of six

    Even though France will be represented at the World Championships road race with only six riders instead of nine, Sylvain Chavanel is well motivated for the event taking place in Mendrisio, Switzerland, later this month.

    Chavanel is one of the leaders of the French "sélection", hand-picked by former pro and current national coach Laurent Jalabert. Together with Pierrick Fédrigo and Thomas Voeckler, the Quick Step rider will be aiming at the top honours on a difficult circuit in the Swiss Alps.

    "I'm working well, and I'm still motivated," he told Cyclingnews on Friday. "It's the end of the season, and the tanks are almost empty, but I'm motivated."

    The 30-year-old firmly believes that his team has all its chances in the Worlds against such nine-man squads as Italy or Spain. "I think we have a good team. Between Fédrigo, Voeckler and myself, we have three riders that are capable of doing something. The most important thing is to be motivated, and I think this team is."

    Chavanel will be travelling to Switzerland on Saturday, September 19, and thus have plenty of time to check out the course prior to the decisive day. "We'll see, it will be a surprise," he said when asked about the circuit's characteristics. "It will be difficult. The amount of climbing [4655m - ed.] appears enormous. But then again, there are more than 260 kilometres, so it's normal that it adds up.

    "You need to be a climber as well as a puncher for this circuit," Chavanel believes. "I will try to do the same as last year: wait. At the same time, I will have to vigilant as a break can happen sooner than expected, like last year, when all the favourites were deceived. With four laps to go, we will start looking for the race lead."

    The Frenchman, in accordance with his trade team, has changed his racing programme prior to the Worlds in comparison to the last two years. Instead of racing the Vuelta, he chose to compete at...

  • Holm feeling good about Greipel's chances

    André Greipel (Columbia-HTC) leads the points competition.
    Article published:
    September 11, 2009, 19:20 BST
    Shane Stokes

    Says Farrar's withdrawal doesn't change anything.

    Columbia-HTC sprinter Andre Greipel will start tomorrow’s thirteenth stage with a 24 point advantage over closest rival Tom Boonen (Quick Step) in the green jersey contest.

    The big German has impressed thus far, winning stages four and five and placing fourth, fourth and fifth on others.

    Saturday and Sunday’s stages are extremely mountains, but from Monday onwards the race becomes flatter and he will have a chance to chase more success and bolster that points advantage.

    Directeur sportif Brian Holm said on Friday that he was feeling upbeat about Greipel's chances. "The team don’t have big ambitions for the mountain stages as you can imagine," he told Cyclingnews. "But it looks like there could be a few more bunch sprints and probably a good chance that Greipel can keep the green jersey.

    "He started this race planning on going all the way to Madrid. He is riding well, he is even climbing without problems. He is pretty fit."

    American rival Tyler Farrar (Garmin Slipstream) won stage eleven in the race but then pulled out. He had been second in the points standings that evening, just seven points behind Greipel, and his withdrawal to prepare for the worlds made things easier in terms of his points lead. However it also means that there will be one less sprinter’s team pulling on the front and helping to bring back breakaways.

    Cyclingnews asked Holm if that would make things easier or harder for Columbia in the days ahead. "I honestly don’t think about it," he answered. "There are still some good sprinters here, it is not easy for Greipel to win a bunch sprint. But we will see…we will do what we got to do for the sprints, we will see how it works out. We will also go for the bonus seconds as well, it makes sense to take them."