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Second Edition Cycling News, Monday, August 17, 2009

Date published:
August 17, 2009, 1:00 BST
  • Nibali to lead Liquigas at Eneco Tour

    Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas)
    Article published:
    August 17, 2009, 9:42 BST
    Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor

    Sprinters bolster Liquigas' bid for stage wins

    Liquigas is expected to focus on stage wins at the Eneco Tour of Benelux after the Italian named its roster for the race, which begins on Tuesday in Rotterdam, The Netherlands. Vincenzo Nibali will captain the squad in the eight stage race.

    "[Vincenzo] Nibali's form makes us hopeful," said Team Director Mario Chiesa, referring to his win at the Gran Premio Città di Camaiore.

    "My condition is good and I'm thirsty for victory," said Nibali. "This race gives me a chance to think about stage wins, and maybe also the overall classification. Then it's almost time for the worlds in Mendrisio. Competing at Eneco beforehand is useful."

    Two sprinters, Francesco Chicchi and Jacopo Guarnieri, bolster the team's chances of a stage win.

    Liquigas for Eneco Tour: Vincenzo Nibali, Francesco Chicchi, Jacopo Guarneri, Maciej Bodnar, Murilo Fischer, Daniel Oss, Brian Bach Vandborg, Frederik Willems.

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  • Austrian WADA lab not involved in manipulation, boss says

    Bernhard Kohl was caught with CERA
    Article published:
    August 17, 2009, 9:48 BST
    Susan Westemeyer

    Denies involvement with Matschiner's claims of bribery or illegal testing

    The anti-doping lab in Seibersdorf, Austria, was not one of those whose employees were paid or bribed to test urine samples from athletes to help them escape a positive doping test, the head of the lab has said.

    Günter Gmeiner, head of the Austrian Research Center, said that he could "in all conscience" deny that his staff were involved.

    Last week Stefan Matschiner, a sports agent, said that he had paid staff at unnamed World Anti-doping Agency (WADA) labs to test samples to determine how much of various substances athletes could take without getting caught. Bernhard Kohl confirmed that two of his samples had been so tested.

    It would not be possible to smuggle a sample in and do an unreported test of it, Gmeiner told Austrian news service tirol-online. "In the lab we have 24 hour observation, seven days a week. That means that everyone who enters the lab is observed. Plus, all positive test results are reported in three different places and third, the WADA regularly controls the accredited labs."

    Reports of the laboratories involved had included anti-doping labs in Lausanne, Prague, Warsaw and Cologne. "I find manipulation in these other labs to be extremely unlikely," he said.

    Matschiner is under investigation by the Austrian special police commission "SoKo doping" for his role in the HumanPlasma doping scheme, as is Kohl. Kohl tested positive for EPO-CERA during last year's Tour de France.

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  • McEwen plans to outsprint Cavendish in 2010

    Robbie McEwen (Katusha) is always a threat
    Article published:
    August 17, 2009, 10:39 BST
    Susan Westemeyer

    Australian making comeback in Eneco Tour

    Robbie McEwen is ready to start his comeback from a serious leg injury and his main goal is to beat fellow sprinter Mark Cavendish. The Australian, who rides for Team Katusha, will start his season again with the Eneco Tour, through the Netherlands and Belgium this week.

    McEwen hit a street sign in the second stage of the Tour of Belgium the end of May, shattering his leg and tearing ligaments. He still has two screws in his left knee.

    Although the 37-year-old is riding again, he does not expect to be back to full strength until next year. He is already planning to start his season with the Tour Down Under before heading to the Giro d'Italia and the Tour de France. McEwen will then set his sights on the 2009 World championships, to be held in Geelong, Victoria, Australia.

    McEwen has studied Cavendish's sprints this season while recuperating, and thinks that he now knows how to beat his 13-year-younger rival. The time off has allowed him to watch the Briton's sprinting and analyse it. "Being forced on the sidelines to watch, you can learn a fair bit about your rivals," he told the Sydney Morning Herald. "I did see things that can be useful."

    "You have got to be fast, have the teammates, but it also helps to know what your rivals do," he pointed out. "You have to know your opponent, their strengths and weaknesses and try to take advantage of either."

    McEwen wouldn't disclose how he thought he could beat Cavendish, but noted that one of the reason's for the younger man's success lay with his team. "His team has been really well organized. They are really well drilled," McEwen said in praise of Team Columbia-HTC. "When you put him on the back of them going into a sprint totally relaxed, not wasting any energy – while all the others are trying to fight for his wheel or ride with one or two teammates against the eight of Columbia – that is a massive advantage."

    While getting that kind of...

  • Phinney rules out racing with RadioShack in 2010

    Taylor Phinney (Trek/Livestrong) making up time on the downhill.
    Article published:
    August 17, 2009, 10:58 BST
    Daniel Benson

    Pursuit World champion may return to the track to close 2009

    Taylor Phinney has finally ended speculation linking him with a move to Lance Armstrong’s Team RadioShack for 2010. Instead, Phinney will remain in the Under-23 ranks with Trek-Livestrong for another season, after which he may ride for Armstrong’s new squad. Phinney also confirmed that his road season may be over, with the world pursuit champion considering a return to the track for the remainder of the season.

    "I’m 99 percent sure that I won't be turning pro with RadioShack next year. I think our team will get a bit of help from RadioShack next year as we’re the development team for them," said Phinney. "I will stay Under-23 so that I can get some experience and develop a little more. I don’t think I’m ready for the ProTour yet but in two years, depending on how next year goes, it could happen. Of course I think about one day turning pro with RadioShack."

    As Armstrong’s new squad starts to take shape, with Sergio Paulinho confirmed and Levi Leiphiemer strongly rumoured to join, there would have been space for Phinney to step up to the Pro ranks after a successful season this year. In March, he won the World individual pursuit crown on the track, before he turned his attention to the road and took the Under-23 title at Paris-Roubaix. "There was an option this year but I was clear on wanting to stay Under-23 and Lance and my team boss Axel Merckx both thought it’s better for my development," Phinney added.

    Phinney is currently recovering from a fractured dorsal spine of the C5 vertebra, an injury sustained in a crash at the Cascade Classic in July. With the Tour of Utah and a bid at the Tour de L’Avenir now unlikely, Phinney may turn his attention back to the track for the first time since the World Championships in Poland, with World Cups in either Melbourne or Manchester on the cards.

    "Originally the plan was to do the Tour de L’Avenir in September but I’m just...

  • Steegmans in negotiations with Milram

    Gert Steegmans in Moscow at the start of the year for the Katusha presentation. The contract between the two was dissolved this week
    Article published:
    August 17, 2009, 11:28 BST
    Susan Westemeyer

    German team confirms interest

    Gert Steegmans is in contract negotiations with Team Milram for in the 2010 season. The German team confirmed on Monday that they are interested in Steegmans, although neither party will confirm how far discussions have proceeded.

    "Gert Steegmans is an interesting rider for us," Milram General Manager Gerry van Gerwen told Cyclingnews. "We are holding talks with him."

    The Belgian newspaper Sporza said that there was an oral agreement between the Belgian sprinter and the German ProTour team, but neither side would comment on those suggestions.

    "Let's just say that Milram is an important option for Gert," Steegman's manager Paul De Geyter told Het Laatste Nieuws.

    At Milram, the 28-year-old would join sprinter Gerald Ciolek, who finished third in the Vattenfall Cyclassics on Sunday.

    Russian team Katusha put Steegmans on inactive status earlier this summer when he refused to sign the team's anti-doping charter. The rider and the team apparently terminated their contract effective August 5, but the team maintains that it still has a valid contract with him.

    Steegmans has also been linked with a possible move to either BBox Bouygues Telecom or Columbia-HTC.

    Steegmans last race for Katusha was the Dauphiné Libéré the middle of June. He returned to racing last weekend in a criterium, wearing the jersey of a private sponsor.

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  • Astana name Klöden in Eneco line-up

    Andreas Klöden (Astana)
    Article published:
    August 17, 2009, 12:01 BST
    Richard Tyler

    Kazakh team announce line-up for next round of ProTour

    Andreas Klöden will lead Astana at this week's Eneco Tour after the Kazakh team announced their eight-man team for the race on Monday.

    The race will be Klöden's first major race since last month's Tour de France and will be the first time in his career that the German has raced in the eight-stage Benelux Tour. Klöden is likely to go into the race with confidence after he performed strongly over a similar number of stages in the Tour de Suisse in June. He finished fourth overall in the Swiss race.

    Klöden's Tour de France teammates Kazakh Dmitriy Muravyev and Swiss rider Gregory Rast, who both raced in Sunday's Vattenfall Cyclassics, will also be at the startline in Rotterdam on Tuesday.

    In last year's race Astana's best placed rider was Sergei Ivanov. The Russian, who transferred to Katusha at the end of 2008, finished 11th on general classification in the 2008 edition.

    Astana for Eneco Tour: Andreas Klöden, Steve Morabito, Dmitriy Muravyev, Bolat Raimbekov, Gregory Rast, Sergey Renev, Tomas Vaitkus & Andrey Zeits

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  • Maaskant out of Eneco after Vattenfall crash

    Martijn Maaskant (Garmin-Slipstream) heads the bunch mid-way through the race.
    Article published:
    August 17, 2009, 12:44 BST
    Richard Tyler

    Dutchman expects to return at Tour of Britain

    Martijn Maaskant (Garmin-Slipstream) will be forced to miss this week's Eneco Tour of Benelux after he came down in a crash in the final stages of the Vattenfall Cyclassics on Sunday.

    "There was crash [in the peloton that] I couldn't avoid," Maaskant told the Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf. "It is disappointing that I will miss the Eneco Tour, I was looking forward to racing again in the Netherlands. The start in Rotterdam will be beautiful."

    While his Garmin teammate Tyler Farrar won the German ProTour race, Maaskant re-opened a knee injury, sustained a week earlier at the Clásica San Sebastián, as he came down along with a number of riders two kilometres from the line in Hamburg.

    Maaskant was taken to hospital where he received stitches to the wound in his left knee. He told De Telegraaf that he had received news of Farrar's win while at the hospital. "It was nice to hear from the team that Tyler had won the race. That was something good."

    The injury will force Maaskant to take a break from what has been a busy season so far for the Dutchman. He has raced consistently since the start of his season at the Tour of Qatar in February. He rode throughout the Spring Classics season and finished fourth in the Tour of Flanders. In July he answered a last minute call-up to replace an injured Dan Martin in the Garmin squad for the Tour de France.

    Despite his own injury-enforced break, the 26-year-old said he doesn't expect the accident to keep him out of competition for long and hopes to return at the Tour of Britain on September 12. "This injury is annoying, but that's cycling."

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  • Irish national team rider killed days before Tour of Ireland start

    Paul Healion (L) trains alongside his Irish national pursuit teammates earlier this year. Healion was part of the team that set a new national record in the disipline at the Copenhagen Track World Cup round this year.
    Article published:
    August 17, 2009, 14:31 BST
    Shane Stokes

    (UPDATED) Healion dies in car accident on Sunday night

    Four days prior to the start of the Tour of Ireland, Irish cycling is in shock after the death of Paul Healion on Sunday. Healion had been due to compete for the Irish national team in the three-stage race.

    31-year-old Healion was killed in a single-vehicle car accident while driving near Ardee, County Lough on Sunday night. He had finished sixth in a race in Donore earlier in the day, and would have spent the next few days tapering prior to joining David McCann, Sean Downey, Philip Lavery, Paul Griffin, Martyn Irvine and Sam Bennett in the Irish team for the Tour of Ireland.

    Healion was having his best season to date, taking a number of important results including his first ever stage victory in the FBD Insurance Rás in May as well as the national criterium championships in June.

    He was also part of the Irish team pursuit squad that finished fifth and set a new national record of 4 minutes 11.587 seconds in the Copenhagen Track World Cup in February.

    "On the track team Paul demanded only the very best of himself and could be so hard on himself," said McCann, who rode alongside Healion, Martyn Irvine and David O'Loughlin in that squad. "Yet he was always the first to shrug off my mistakes and tell me not to worry about it and crack a joke. He had a great perspective on things and my heart goes out to his wife Ann, Aaron [Buggle, his nephew] and the rest of his family. I will miss him."

    Although an amateur rider, the Dunboyne rider was possibly the Irish national team's best chance of a high stage finish in the Tour of Ireland. He was a strong sprinter and, with stages one and two likely to finish in bunch sprints, Healion and fellow FBD Insurance Rás stage victor Sam Bennett were expected to be the protected riders.

    Back on May 22, Healion had won the sixth stage of the FBD Insurance Rás into Castlebar, beating quadruple Tour de France stage victor Jaan Kirsipuu (Norway Giant-Veolia), double...