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Second Edition Cycling News, Monday, December 19, 2011

Date published:
December 19, 2011, 0:00 GMT
  • Freire looks to Worlds and Olympics in final season

    Oscar Freire (Rabobank) in Southern California, where he can speak his native Spanish everywhere.
    Article published:
    December 19, 2011, 10:25 GMT
    Cycling News

    Spaniard set for Katusha campaign

    Oscar Freire is high on motivation as he builds towards 2012, his first season with Katusha, but the triple world champion has stated that it will be his final year as a professional. The Spaniard joins Katusha after spending nine seasons with Rabobank.

    “I think it will be my last year,” Freire told Biciciclismo. “I had a lot of interest in riding in 2012 for a couple of reasons. 2011 was not such a good season because I didn’t have a lot of success or good fortune. And I know that I can still go to my best. I don’t have to show anything to anyone, that’s clear. This is more for me.”

    Winner of Milan-San Remo and Paris-Tours in 2010, Freire’s final campaign with Rabobank proved more difficult, as he failed to land a classic and was left out of the Tour de France team as the Dutch squad built its July plans around Robert Gesink.

    “Two years ago I had a good season. In 2011, I found I was equally good but things didn’t work out for whatever reason,” Freire said. “In San Remo I fell, I was ill at Gent-Wevelgem and then Gilbert left no chances in the Ardennes and they didn’t bring me to the Tour. And then at the Vuelta I was ill. It was a season in which I could do little, and when I did compete I came up against a very strong Gilbert and Cavendish.”

    While Freire hopes to hit the ground running in 2012 and will begin his spring build-up at the Tour Down Under, the Spaniard already has one eye on twin objectives later in the season, the London 2012 Olympics and the world championships in Valkenburg.

    “The Olympic circuit isn’t as easy as you think, it’s more complicated than it seems,” he...

  • Davis looks for career peak with GreenEdge

    Bronze medalist Allan Davis (Australia)
    Article published:
    December 19, 2011, 12:00 GMT
    Cycling News

    Solid build-up for 31-year-old as he targets Milan-San Remo with 2011 winner Goss

    Allan Davis is excited about racing the 2012 season with the first Australian World Tour team, GreenEdge. The rider from Bundaberg, Queensland, hopes to give his career a new spin with his home team. Together with teammate and 2011 Milan-San Remo winner Matt Goss, Davis builds up to top form for the "Primavera" this Spring.

    Both Davis and Goss have said that they will work well together at the event, which has always been a career goal for podium finisher Davis, too. "We're good mates, Gossy and I and the other blokes in the team," Davis told AAP. "That will never be a problem and it's nice to have that confidence. If I'm there to do the job, I do the job - if I'm there to have a leader's job, I'm very confident I can do that as well."

    Goss confirmed Davis' comments. "We have a lot of big names in this team, but not a lot of big egos, so everyone is happy to work for each other," Goss said. "If we are lucky enough to be in the situation where we come to the finish of some of these big races like Milan-San Remo with a couple of us, then I think we have an ace card on everyone else."

    Davis finished second in San Remo in 2007 and fourth two years ago. He intends to be in top form for the race, shaping up in Australia as soon as January. GreenEdge will have two teams in the Jayco Bay Classic criterium series, which starts in Geelong on January 1: While Davis will head the Mitchelton Wineries team, Goss will be leader for the World Tour outfit.

    "I'm doing this the smart way. We're getting the foundation as hard and thick as possible," Davis said. "The more you do that, the longer and more sustained form you have later on. I'm not going to cut corners anywhere."

    Hoping the team change from Astana to GreenEdge will give his career a boost, Davis is confident that at 31 years of age, the best is still to come. "I'm very confident you'll see a whole new Allan...

  • Gilbert named Belgian athlete of the year

    Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma Lotto) celebrates victory
    Article published:
    December 19, 2011, 13:02 GMT
    Cycling News

    Photo gallery of Gilbert's stunning season

    Philippe Gilbert added another title to his superlative 2011 season, as he was named Belgian athlete of the year for the third consecutive year. He has received numerous other awards, including the Velo d'Or, and Cyclingnews readers voted him both Male Road Rider and all-around Rider of the Year.

    The Belgian had 24 victories this season, including Fleche Wallonne, Amstel Gold Race, Liege-Bastogne-Liege, the first stage of the Tour de France, Clasica San Sebastian, and the Belgian national road and time trial titles.

    Gilbert finished well ahead of brothers and track athletes Kevin and Jonathan Borlee, who were second and third.

    “Such an election is always special and I'm very proud of this trophy,” he said, according to the Belga news agency.

    “The fact that I beat  top athletes like Kevin and Jonathan Borlee proves once again that we have many international qualities here in Belgium, “ he said. He also expressed his condolences to the victims of last week's shooting incident in Liege. “That touched me deeply.”

    The award had an extra meaning as his Omega Pharma-Lotto teammate Jelle Vanendert presented it to him.“The prize was very special precisely because Jelle handed it to me.  Jelle is not only a colleague but a real friend.”

    After three years with Omega Pharma-Lotto, Gilbert will ride for BMC Racing Team in 2012.

  • Cioni calls time on professional career

    Dario Cioni (Sky)
    Article published:
    December 19, 2011, 13:22 GMT
    Cycling News

    Italian to continue with Sky in communications role

    Dario Cioni has announced his decision to retire from professional cycling with immediate effect, but the Italian will continue to work with Sky in 2012. He is set to take on a communications role at the squad, focused primarily on the relationships with the team’s Italian sponsors and the Italian media.

    “I’ve been racing for 20 years and turned 37 in December and know that I can't race forever even though I'd love to,” Cioni said. “One starts to look forward and when Dave [Brailsford] proposed this role I understood it was the right moment to start with the new job.

    “I have a degree in international business with sports management and it looks like the perfect way to continue in the sport and with the team.”

    Cioni joined Sky on its launch ahead of the 2010 season and he said that he had enjoyed spending the twilight of his career at the British team. “Even though I'd been racing for 18 years beforehand, I've still learnt so much in my two years riding with Team Sky,” he said. “This is the way cycling will go in the future and I'm keen to be part of it.”

    The high point of Cioni’s career came in 2004 in the colours of Fassa Bortolo, when he finished 4th overall at the Giro d’Italia, 3rd at the Tour de Suisse and captured the Italian time trial title. All told, the Reading-born rider took part in 19 grand tours over the course of a career that also saw him ride for Mapei, Liquigas, Predictor-Lotto and ISD.

    "I would have liked to make it 20 grand tours but I guess you’ve got to stop at some point,” said Cioni. “My first Giro is up there [as a treasured memory] because it’s always special and the Giro I got fourth in is too of course.”

    Cioni began his professional career as a...

  • Team Saxo Bank strength will help Contador, says Navarro

    Race leader Alberto Contador and teammate Daniel Navarro await the start of stage 5.
    Article published:
    December 19, 2011, 14:44 GMT
    Cycling News

    Lack of big names no handicap in Tour de France

    The collective strength of Team Saxo Bank will give Alberto Contador the advantage over Andy and Fränk Schleck, said Daniel Navarro. The Spaniard is looking to help his teammate win the Tour de France again in 2012.

    "The Schleck brothers have a really good team. At Saxo Bank we don't really have the big names, but we're all good friends and understand each others' needs. It is better that we all agree, than that there are big names on the team. I think that Alberto's riders are more motivated and can work more efficiently,” Navarro told

    The lack of big names on his support team is nothing new to Contador. “I remember in 2010 when it was said that Alberto  did not have a useful team, and there were no good riders. The Tour showed Astana to be the best team,” Navarro said. “It may be the same situation next year where he also focuses exclusively on the Tour and probably do well.”

     "It is certainly possible for him to win. He is very motivated for it. There is a lot of time trial trial and it's good for him when Schleck brothers are not so good at it, so he has an advantage over them.”

    He acknowledged that the Schlecks are not the only rivals, as Contador must also face 2011 Tour champion Cadel Evans. “He probably does not have an advantage over Evans on that point, but I think that Alberto is very strong and I hope he wins,” Navarro said.

  • Kolobnev not with Katusha in 2012

    Russian champion Alexandre Kolobnev (Katusha).
    Article published:
    December 19, 2011, 17:29 GMT
    Cycling News

    Holczer says no place left on team

    Alexandr Kolobnev will not ride for Katusha in 2012. Incoming team manager Hans-Michael Holczer confirmed that the rider, who tested positive during the Tour de France, would not be on the team.

    Kolobnev did not attend the team's recent training camp in Tuscany. Holczer told that the team roster was full and there was no place left for Kolobnev. 

    “There's no point in having a rider on the team who is limbo,” he said.  The Russian tested positive for hydrochlorothiazide, a diuretic, during the Tour this summer.  He has denied used this or any other doping product.

    The Russian cycling federation did not suspend him, but gave him a warning and a fine. The International Cycling Union has appealed that decision to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, asking that he be suspended for two years.

    Kolobnev made headlines again recently when a Swiss magazine claimed that Alexandre Vinokourov purchased the win in Liege-Bastogne-Liege from him in 2010.

  • Gallery: Team Type 1-Sanofi looking to step up in 2012

    All smiles on the warm Tucson day.
    Article published:
    December 19, 2011, 18:34 GMT
    Clara Cureton

    Davidenko says team will be aiming to compete in bigger European Tours next year

    Even though weather was inconveniently soggy over some of Team Type 1 – Sanofi’s 10-day Tucson-based training camp, the mood was still all business as the team prepared for its upcoming 2012 season.

    Revamping its overall team structure, the American Professional Continental squad has upped its rider and staff numbers to take on a triple program – two in Europe and one in the US – to give more flexibility to the riders and ensure a presence throughout the racing season.

    Team Type 1-Sanofi General Manager Vassili Davidenko said gaining entry into bigger European tours one of this year’s major objectives. To accomplish that though, it’s crucial the team hits the ground running during the early season races.

    "Paris-Nice is where we can show the potential of the team," he told Cyclingnews. "And I think the team is ready for that next step."

    Tour of Turkey overall winner Aleksandr Efimkin, who moved from the ProTour AG2R-La Mondiale team to Team Type 1-Sanofi Aventis at the end of 2010, is a rider of note to Davidenko, who said he also has high hopes for Tour of Denmark stage two winner Remy Cusin and Julien El Fares, both transfers from Cofidis and both fierce, experienced stage racers.

    "We also have Daniele Colli who was, at the beginning of 2011, suffering from cancer of the leg," Davidenko said. "He’s back, and been on the podium for almost every race he’s participated in, so he’s another rider that we expect to be on top and to win races."

    The team has also developed a deep pool of sprinter talent in Aldo Ilesic, Jure Kocjan and Filippo Fortin, who finished sixth at the Espoir Worlds last season.

    Team Type 1 hired former Tour De France stage winner and legendary French sprinter Frederic Moncassin as one of three directeur sportifs this year. Massimo Podenzana is staying on with the team and Jack Seehafer, who was directeur sportif of the highly...

  • Tour Méditéranéen in peril

    David Moncoutie (Cofidis) soloed to victory atop Mont Faron.
    Article published:
    December 19, 2011, 20:41 GMT
    Cycling News

    Fees dispute could leave hole in early season

    The early European season could be lacking one of its top races, as the Tour Méditéranéen has reportedly been cancelled. According to the French Federation, the race is off, and the UCI has not included the four-stage event on its European Tour calendar, but Cyclingnews is still awaiting confirmation from the race organiser.

    The Tour Méditéranéen and its historical finish atop Mont Faron has been a prime early season target for many of the sport's top teams, and was won last year by David Moncoutie (Cofidis).

    According to Cyclism'Actu, the race organisers, who announced the route on November 8 with no indication of uncertainty about the race's future, were informed in mid-November that they must reimburse the Ligue Nationale de Cyclisme €23,000 for a stage in 2010 which was shortened, under threat that the race would not be on the UCI calendar.

    The race had been hit by financial problems in the past, but up until November 24, the organisers were indicating that paying the fee would be no problem and expected the event to go ahead as scheduled, from February 9-12, and be added to the UCI calendar.

    However, the French Cycling Federation's web site (FFC) posted today a one-line item stating that the race has been cancelled due to the conditions for inclusion on the race calendar not being met.

    Stay tuned to Cyclingnews for the full story.