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Second Edition Cycling News, Monday, December 12, 2011

Date published:
December 12, 2011, 0:00 GMT
  • BMC Racing Team announces rosters for Qatar, Oman

    Philippe Gilbert (Belgium) was hardly seen all race
    Article published:
    December 12, 2011, 8:12 GMT
    Cycling News

    Gilbert, Hushovd to make team debut in Qatar

    The Tours of Qatar and Oman in February will mark the BMC Racing Team debuts of UCI world No. 1 Philippe Gilbert and 2010 world road champion Thor Hushovd.

    BMC Racing Team Directeur Sportif John Lelangue said the five-stage Tour of Qatar is a good start to the season for the team's classics squad. "It gives us good velocity and you have to be focusing every day to be at the front because the wind is always a factor," Lelangue said.

    Gilbert, the Belgian national road and time trial champion, said he will use the Tour of Qatar to test his form and ease into the season.

    "I like this race first because it's put on by Eddy Merckx, meaning it's well organized and perfect," Gilbert said. "It's also good preparation for the wind and to get a good feeling with our new riders and teammates."

    Former US national time trial champion Taylor Phinney said he is also excited to start his season in Qatar.

    "I raced here in 2010 as my first real race against the 'big boys,' so I look forward to coming back," Phinney said. "I hope to come out of training camp well and really make a showing or be able to help our guys get some quality results."

    Meantime, five-time Italian national time trial champion Marco Pinotti makes his debut for the BMC Racing Team at the Tour of Oman, where he finished fourth overall in 2010.

    "There's no time trial this year, so it will be a little bit of a new experience for me," Pinotti said. "We'll see how my form is at the beginning. My focus is more on the second part of the season with the Olympics and the Giro. But this will be a good measuring stick."

    Former world road champion Alessandro Ballan said he hopes to figure in the overall...

  • Merckx questions Boonen's motivation

    Tom Boonen (Quick Step)
    Article published:
    December 12, 2011, 8:43 GMT
    Daniel Benson

    Cycling legend tips Martin for Tour GC

    Cycling legend Eddy Merckx has voiced his concern over whether Tom Boonen can come back to the form that saw him win a trio of Paris-Roubaix titles in 2005, 2008 and 2009. Merckx, who is now a consultant at the Omega Pharma-Quick Step squad, has been a long time admirer of Boonen but the rider’s last major Classics win came two years ago.

    “I don’t think he’s the rider he once was,” Merckx said, pointing to the fact that Boonen is no longer a major contender in bunch sprints.

    “Last year he had some problems with his hand, and he’s had knee problems, too. He’s not a young rider anymore,” Merckx told Cyclingnews.

    Merckx also raised the issue of Boonen’s motivation.

    “For him it’s also a question of motivation. If he can be motivated then he can perhaps come back in the Classics like Flanders and Roubaix but it will be very difficult for him to beat the sprinters these days.”

    According to Merckx, Boonen’s chances of winning a major spring Classic depend on his form at the start of the season.

    “I hope he can still win races like Roubaix and Flanders. Everything depends on the start of the season and how he starts - although last year he won Gent-Wevelgem and then wasn’t so good in Flanders or Roubaix.”

    Merckx, who attended the Omega Pharma-Quick Step team presentation in Antwerp last week, also gave his opinion on the team’s strength in depth. Historically they have been built around the Classics but 2012 will see a slight change with the likes of Levi Leipheimer and Tony Martin drafted in to bolster the team’s stage racing and time trial skills.

    Although both recruits will be expected to bring in success, Merckx has tipped Martin to shine to the extent of competing...

  • Hoste has faith in new team for 2012

    Leif Hoste (Omega Pharma-Lotto) gets all serious
    Article published:
    December 12, 2011, 10:11 GMT
    Cycling News

    Belgian Classics hunter looks to repeat former podium placings

    After a 2011 season to forget, Leif Hoste is looking forward to returning to the top level of cycling next year with his new Accent Jobs-Verandas Willems team. The Belgian suffered multiple injuries to his head in a crash on the first stage of the Three Days of De Panne this spring and could not come back to normal form during the whole season due to intense headaches throughout the year.

    The Katusha Classics leader was then released of his contract and after talking to a number of teams, decided to join the Professional Continental squad directed by Jean-François Bourlard and Lucien Van Impe. "They have a lot of ambition and and excellent programme which suits my personal objectives," Hoste told Velochrono, explaining his choice.

    The man who has three second placings at the Tour of Flanders on his palmarès (2004, 2006 and 2007) is confident that his teammates at Accent-Willems will be able to support him to achieve a podium placing in the Belgian Spring Classics once again. "We might not have the strongest team, but we have reason to be ambitious. We'll be able to really be at the front in the finale of races such as Paris-Roubaix or the Tour of Flanders, and face up to the big cylinders of the peloton," Hoste insisted.

    Indeed, looking at the outfit's 2012 roster, the names of Staf Scherlinckx and Kevyn Ista particularly stand out. Scherlinckx finished this year's Flanders in eighth place, and Ista, winner of the 2006 U23 Ronde, got second in the 2009 Het Nieuwsblad as well as in two editions of the GP Samyn. Moreover, the team also counts many up-and-coming young riders who will clearly...

  • Gallery: Contador and Riis go skydiving

    Contador and his instructor in freefall
    Article published:
    December 12, 2011, 11:08 GMT
    Cycling News

    Saxo Bank leader puts his descending skills to the ultimate test

    Alberto Contador and his Saxo Bank team brought their trip in Israel to a close with a spectacular skydive on the coast of the country.

    The Spanish climber has spent the last week in the Middle Eastern country setting up a number of initiatives as well as taking part in a night-time criterium.

    However, he and team boss Bjarne Riis saved their most exhilarating task until the end of the trip, jumping from an aeroplane at over 12,000ft. The jump took place over Tel Aviv, with a minute of freefall in which the jumpers reached speeds of 200kph.

    Contador is yet to find out the verdict of his CAS case, with a final ruling expected in January. If found guilty he could face a lengthy ban.

     For a photo gallery of Contador and Riis jumping out of a plane at 12,000ft, click here.

  • Menchov finally signs with Katusha

    Denis Menchov (Geox-TMC) will be hoping to make an impact in the final week.
    Article published:
    December 12, 2011, 13:08 GMT
    Cycling News

    Russian Grand Tour winner finds a home after Geox

    Denis Menchov has finally put pen to paper on a contract with Team Katusha. The Russian veteran signs after his 2011 team, Geox-TMC, pulled out of the sport.

    Menchov is one of the most successful GrandTour riders in the current peloton with two wins in the Vuelta (2005 and 2007) and one in the Giro d’Italia (2009). He also finished third in the 2010 Tour de France.

    “I am very glad to join Katusha. I have been looking forward to it for a long time, and I always regarded it as the right step for me and my career. I very much appreciate what Mr. Makarov is doing for Russian cycling. In return, I’d like to contribute as much as I can to the Russian global cycling project as well as to regaining to Russia its leading positions in world sport.”

    Menchov had been in negotiations with the Russian team ahead of 2010 but talks broke down between him and then Katusha general manager Andreï Tchmil.

    Menchov finished eighth in this year’s Giro d’Italia. Geox were not invited to the Tour de France but the Russian managed a fifth overall placing in the Vuelta.



  • Leipheimer sets targets for 2012

    Race leader Levi Leipheimer (RadioShack) climbs in the front group up Lookout Mountain.
    Article published:
    December 12, 2011, 15:08 GMT
    Daniel Benson

    California, Tour, Olympics and US Pro on the menu for US veteran

    After one of his most successful seasons as a professional, Levi Leipheimer is looking towards what could be the final two years of his career. Leipheimer moved moved to Omega Pharma-Quick Step last month on a two-year deal.

    The 38-year-old signed for the Belgian team after two years at RadioShack, but with his 2012 season set to revolve around a number of US-based races he is not apprehensive about Omega’s ability to support his aspirations state-side. The American will target the Tour of California - a race he has won three times - before taking on the Tour de France and then the US Pro Challenge. He has also earmarked a place in the US Olympic squad for 2012.

    But with the Belgian team’s history of devotion and delivery in the Classics, is he not concerned?

    “The first thing I let Patrick Lefevere know was just how important US races were to me. Especially California, which starts in my home town next year. He’s totally into that because the team wasn’t invited to California this year and they wanted to go in 2012,” Leipheimer told Cyclingnews.

    “They’re looking forward to it. Mr Bakala, the team owner, spent a lot of time in California and we have sponsorship interest there,” he added.

    “The whole move has been an exciting time. Yes, historically this has been a classics-orientated team, but they’re willing to open up to a new age, thinking like HTC did or Sky is now. I think that a lot of the group that came from HTC, they’re going to add a lot to the team. I think it’s cool that Patrick and the squad that was already in place...

  • Twenty-two Pro-Continental teams announced for 2012

    Thomas Voeckler celebrates holding onto the race lead
    Article published:
    December 12, 2011, 16:35 GMT
    Cycling News

    1T4i and Europcar included

    The definite list of 22 Pro-Continental teams has been announced by the UCI for the 2012 season.

    The teams are registered in 13 countries, over four continents, and include the first Pro-Conti team registered in China.

    The big team missing from the list from last year is Geox-TMC, which folded at the end of the 2011 season. Europcar and 1T4i are both included

    The Pro-Conti Teams registered so far are listed below – and as no more teams can be added, any other teams will have to be Continental

    2012 UCI Pro-Continental Teams
    Accent Jobs – Willems Veranda’s (Bel)
    Acqua&Sapone (Ita)
    Andalucia (Spa)
    AndroniGiocattoli (Ita)
    Bretagne - Schuller (Fra)
    Caja Rural (Spa)
    Champion System Pro Cycling Team (Chn)
    Cofidis, Le Credit En Ligne (Fra)
    Colnago – CSF INOX (Irl)
    Colombia – Coldeportes (Col)
    Team Europcar (Fra)
    Farnese Vini (GBr)
    Landbouwkrediet (Bel)
    Project 1T4I (Ned)
    Rusvelo (Rus)
    Saur – Sojasun (Fra)
    Spidertech Powered By C10 (Can)
    Team Netapp (Ger)
    Team Type 1 – Sanofi(USA)
    TopsportVlaanderen – Mercator (Bel)
    Unitedhealthcare Pro Cycling Team (USA)
    Utensilnord Named (Irl)

  • Skil-Shimano leaders wind tunnel testing in California

    Team manager Iwan Spekenbrink enjoys the sun with the riders.
    Article published:
    December 12, 2011, 17:35 GMT
    Pierre Carrey

    Kittel and Degenkolb perform aero tests in San Diego

    Seven riders from Skil-Shimano, also known as Project, arrived on Sunday in San Diego, California, for a training camp through December 23. The Dutch-registered Pro Continental squad selected its German sprinters, Marcel Kittel and former HTC rider John Degenkolb, Patrick Gretsch, Dutch Tom Veelers and ex-Leopard Trek rider Tom Stamsnijder as well as French Alexandre Geniez to attend the American camp, which will include wind tunnel testing at the San Diego airport. The group also includes one new member of the women's squad, Regina Bruins, who won Tour de l'Aude's prologue this season.

    The rest of the roster will train from December 15-23 in Alicante, Spain, where the team will open a new permanent base for 2012.

    "The Californian camp is mainly to do aero tests in the wind tunnel," Skil-Shimano's head coach Merijn Zeeman told Cyclingnews. "We want to optimize the positions, clothing and material. This is an example how we follow our philosophy of Innovation and Improvement."

    The acronym 1t4I represents, according to the team, its "core values": team, inspiration, improvement, integrity and innovation.

    Tom Davids, Technical Research & Development staff member, will coordinate the wind tunnel tests together with the technicians of 1t4i's technical partners. Until now, the team's aero tests took place on the Apeldoorn track in the Netherlands, where the team met as recently as last week for its first winter camp. However, a more advanced session was decided for a group of riders in the US, with the support of Felt, the California-based bike company which will join 1t4i in 2012.

    Moreover, the team plans to compete in several American races next year, including the Amgem Tour of California, the Tour of Utah and the Tour of Colorado.

    Iwan Spekenbrink, the general manager of 1t41, told Cyclingnews the squad had "worldwide...