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Second Edition Cycling News, Monday, January 17, 2011

Date published:
January 17, 2011, 0:00 GMT
  • Voeckler happy to focus on racing

    Thomas Voeckler appeared in his French champion's jersey
    Article published:
    January 17, 2011, 10:40 GMT
    Barry Ryan

    Europcar leader puts busy off-season behind him

    Thomas Voeckler (Europcar) is happy to put a strenuous off-season behind him and focus exclusively on riding his bike. The French champion’s late decision to pass up on a contract offer from Cofidis secured Europcar as a replacement sponsor for Bouygues Telecom in October.

    “I went beyond my duties as a rider. I also needed a break after a full season with a rough end because of the uncertainty about the future,” Voeckler told L’Équipe. “Now I’m thinking only about riding and no longer about managing non-sporting obligations.”

    Voeckler admitted that his busy winter has impacted slightly on his early preparations for the 2011 season but he is confident that his experience is such that he can quickly made up on any lost ground.

    “I’m not panicking,” he said. “My path has taught me that work always pays off. I’m starting from further behind than normal but I don’t want to look for any excuses.”

    In any case, with Friday’s Europcar team presentation out of the way, the two-time Tour de France stage winner is now firmly focused on the task in hand.

    “Now I’m back to being a rider 100 per cent,” he said. “I have to stay in my place, be concentrated on my training on racing. I have a lot on my plate. Besides, when you get older, you always need to do more…”

    In spite of the crucial part he played in attracting Europcar as sponsor, Voeckler insists that his role in the squad does not extend beyond that of team leader. Such is his popularity in France, it is also anticipated that Voeckler’s presence in the Europcar squad all but guarantees the team a wildcard invitation to the Tour de France.

    “I carry weight, but I’m not the patron,” he said. “Jean-René Bernaudeau asked me my advice on recruitment but he was the one who asked me. And I...

  • Visconti aiming for Giro d'Italia stage wins

    Giovanni Visconti (Farnese Vini-Neri) is looking ahead to a big 2011.
    Article published:
    January 17, 2011, 11:37 GMT
    Barry Ryan

    Andrea Noè set for final Giro at 42 years of age

    Giovanni Visconti (Farnese Vini-Neri) is targeting a stage win and a spell in the pink jersey at May’s Giro d’Italia. The Sicilian is also hoping to defend his title at the following month’s Italian road race championships.

    Visconti’s team were overlooked for last year’s Giro and he is determined to make amends this time around. With the route taking in some familiar roads, Visconti is not lacking in motivation.

    “The Giro d’Italia is starting in Turin, the city where I was born, and will then go on to Tuscany, where I live, and then on to my Sicily,” Visconti, who grew up in Sicily, told Tuttobici.

    “I’ll have to return to Sicily again at the end of June for the Italian championships, so it’s easy to establish my main objectives: at least a stage and a few days in the maglia rosa at the Giro, and a third tricolour jersey, which would go down in history.”

    Visconti first took the title in 2007 before repeating the feat in Conegliano last summer. As well as capturing the Italian champion’s jersey last season, Visconti also finished at the top of the UCI Europe Tour rankings for the second successive season.

    His performances were enough to earn a place on the Italian squad for the world championships in Geelong, where he had the experience of riding in a race in which radio communication was forbidden.

    Like many of his fellow professionals, Visconti is vehemently opposed to the proposed banning of earpieces during races.

    “Not allowing them to be used is really absurd,” he said. “It means going against progress and also putting the security of us riders at risk. I hope that once again cyclists are united in taking a decisive and cohesive position against this much-opposed decision.”

    Noè set for final Giro

    While Visconti is the leader of the Farnese Vini-Neri squad,...

  • Rohan Dennis to Rabobank Continental Team

    Smiling Dennis: Tour winner Rohan Dennis (Team Jayco Skins) was delighted to win his first multiple stage race in Geelong.
    Article published:
    January 17, 2011, 12:36 GMT
    Cycling News

    Young Australian won 2010 Tour of Geelong

    Rabobank has signed Rohan Dennis to its Continental team. The young Australian has ridden for the Continental team Jayco for the last two years.

    Dennis, 20, won the national U23 time trial title last year, as well as the national and world team pursuit titles. On the road, he won two stages of the Tour of Geelong on his way to the overall title.

    Over the years, he has won numerous national and world titles on the track.

    “Rohan Dennis is an exceptional talent with potential. He will get the time to progress in the Continental Team”, said Technical Director Erik Breukink.

    Piet Kuijs, sports director with the Continental Team called Dennis “an unexpected addition to the team. We expect to give Rohan the right environment and program to develop himself.”

  • HTC-Highroad hit Mallorca training camp

    The HTC-Highroad bus outside the team's base in Mallorca, Spain
    Article published:
    January 17, 2011, 14:51 GMT
    Daniel Benson

    Van Garderen, Pinotti and Martin lead stage race group

    HTC-Highroad touched down in Mallorca, Spain on Monday for the start of their European training camp. The American team is currently split, with a number of its riders in Australia at the Tour Down, but the likes of Marco Pinotti, Leigh Howard and Tejay Van Garderen all began their 2011 European adventures today with a training ride.

    The riders split into two groups, with Howard and new signings Caleb Fairly and Matthew Brammeier in one echelon, while Pinotti, Tony Martin and Tejay Van Garderen helped to make up what constituted a purely stage-racing bunch of riders.

    Tejay Van Garderen is now in his second season with the team and after a promising debut is in contention for a ride at this year’s Tour de France. Before that he will compete in the Amgen Tour of California.

    “I’ll go to California with high intentions for GC,” he told Cyclingnews.

    As for his chances of a Tour slot, he added: "We’ll see. Right now we’re talking as if I am doing it but we’ll have to see how the form is for me and everyone else and what kind of team we want to bring."

  • AIGCP rejects UCI radio ban

    The AIGCP opposes the UCI's plan to phase out two-way race radios. Team Saxo Bank's Fabian Cancellara is pictured speaking into his radio during the 2009 Vuelta a Espana.
    Article published:
    January 17, 2011, 16:33 GMT
    Barry Ryan

    Teams association to continue use of two-way radios

    The International Association of Professional Cycling Teams (AIGCP) has written an open letter to the UCI management committee and UCI president Pat McQuaid calling on the sport’s governing body to abandon plans to forbid the use of two-way radio communication in races ranked .1 and .HC. The teams association has also suggested that its members will defy the ban.

    The letter comes in the wake of a meeting of the AIGCP and UCI held in Geneva on January 7. It is understood that AIGCP members (representatives from ProTeams and Professional Continental teams) voted 18-2 against the radio ban.

    While the statement reiterates old concerns that any such ban would lead to a reduction of safety in the race caravan and decrease team managers’ ability to warn their riders of upcoming dangers and conditions, the AIGCP also argue that the use of radios ultimately leads to worthier race winners.

    “When intelligent riders have more information, they are able to make better tactical decisions,” the statement reads. “A team can execute more precisely when information is available and communication is good. Both the more intelligent rider and the more intelligent team are the benefactors of greater information flow.

    “This makes the winner of the race a more worthy one, as opposed to a randomized winner who simply was lucky in benefiting from a lack of communication and information. Fans do not want winners who haphazardly fell into a victory due to lack of information.”

    This argument was posited by AIGCP president Jonathan Vaughters in a blog for Cyclingnews last week and the wording of Monday’s AIGCP statement suggests that the teams are prepared to tackle the UCI firmly on the issue of radio communication.

    “We must follow the mandate of the majority of the AIGCP members and request that two way radio communication remain allowed in all .1 and .HC races,” reads...

  • Schlecks open to Kirchen role at Leopard Trek

    Article published:
    January 17, 2011, 17:33 GMT
    Daniel Benson

    Luxembourg rider without a contract since apparent heart attack

    Fränk and Andy Schleck have both opened the door for Kim Kirchen to become part of the Leopard Trek team in the future. The brothers were speaking at the team's first training camp in Mallorca, Spain.

    Kirchen (32) suffered an apparent heart attack in his hotel room during the Tour de Suisse last year. He was placed in an induced coma for several days and towards the end of 2010 had his contract terminated by his then team, Katusha. He has not raced since and has no contract for the 2011 season.

    Although still not cleared to race by doctors, the Luxembourg rider has made noises about coming back to the sport if given the all clear.

    "Right now Kim has to find out what happened. It's more important to know that he looks after himself and his family. We are a Luxembourg team and it's not a secret that if there are strong riders like Kirchen, of course we'll have an eye on them but there are things that have to be respected," said Fränk Schleck.

    Along with the Schlecks, Kirchen helped to put Luxembourg cycling back on the map in recent years. He wore the yellow jersey in the 2008 Tour de France and finished in 7th place overall. If his racing career is at an end, Andy Schleck believes that a place in the team car could be a possibility. However he made it clear that all team hires were carried out by the team's management and not the riders.

    "If you ask him he'd say he'd definitely like to be a cyclist but he doesn't know if it's possible yet,” Andy Schleck said. “We spoke with him before we came here and he said he doesn't have 100 per cent security that he can ride again. Some people doubt it and some believe he can come back as a cyclist but it's not up to me to judge.

    “If he'd like to be a sports director of course there would be interest but it's not up to us to decide, that's why we have a management, but I would like to see him involved in the future somehow."

  • Tesco Rutland-Melton International CiCLE Classic confirmed for 2011

    Britain's Ronde Van Vlaanderen: the Rutland-Melton CiCLE Classic
    Article published:
    January 17, 2011, 19:06 GMT
    Pierre Carrey

    Britain's sole UCI one-day race continues thanks to new sponsor

    The existence of the only UCI one-day race on the British calendar, the East Midlands International CiCLE Classic, has been secured for 2011. Race director Colin Clews confirmed to Cyclingnews that the race will take place on Sunday 17th April with the new official name of the Tesco Rutland-Melton International CiCLE Classic.

    The newfound support of the Tesco Charity Trust is well-timed to guarantee that the event will continue. Officially registered in the UCI schedule since last September, it was threatened by cancellation after the loss of its main sponsor, the East Midlands Development Agency. “We imposed ourselves a deadline in the middle of January to find a new sponsor because we had to invite teams and book hotels,” Colin Clews told Cyclingnews.

    The new sponsorship deals runs for one year, but the organiser hopes to extend and secure the future of his race “for two or three years.”

    Ranked 1.2, the Tesco Rutland-Melton International Cicle Classic is the only UCI race in the United Kingdom apart from the Tour of Britain (11-18 September), and the sole one-day race. It is defined by the unmade roads that pepper its route, in the manner of Paris-Roubaix and other lesser races such as the Tro Bro Léon in Brittany and the Strade Bianche in Tuscany.

    The “special sectors” without asphalt represent a total of 15-16km of the race distance. The route will be almost the same as last year but will be 5km longer due to the addition of a new sector, increasing the distance from 168 to 173km. The start is in the town centre of Oakham, the county town of Rutland, and the finish is in nearby Melton Mowbray.

    Founded in 2005, the Tesco Rutland-Melton International CiCLE Classic gained UCI status two years later. Past winners of the UCI event are the iconic British veteran Malcolm Elliott (2007), Irishman Ciaran Power (2008) and mountain bike and cyclo-cross specialist Ian...

  • Brown warns of difficulties in Santos Tour Down Under's opening stages

    Graeme Brown (Rabobank)
    Article published:
    January 17, 2011, 22:16 GMT
    Barry Ryan

    Sprinters will have to earn victory

    While the Santos Tour Down Under is widely held to be something of a sprinters’ benefit, Rabobank’s Graeme Brown has warned that the peloton’s fast men will have to earn the right to strut their stuff in the race’s opening two stages.

    At a breezy 138km, stage 1 from Mawson Lakes to Angaston seems preordained to finish in a bunch sprint, but Brown explains that the riders may find a surprise or two out on the road. The course is considerably lumpier in reality than it appears on paper.

    “It's quite tough terrain out there,” he told Cyclingnews. “The maps don't really give you any indication that it's up and down all day. If you looked at this on your first trip to Adelaide you'd think it's relatively straightforward and simple but it's pretty up and down.”

    While the Tour Down Under’s first climb to Black Top Road, after just 11.6km of stage 1, is expected to see the day’s early break jump clear, Brown reckons that the deceptively tough finale is where the sprinters’ trains will have to work hardest to keep their men in contention.

    “When you ride the final three kilometres, you realise it's the complete opposite to what the profile says,” he said. “It's about a 1500m of proper uphill. That makes for a pretty solid finish, actually, and it should be quite interesting to see.”

    Stage two will see the sprinters face an obstacle of a different variety. The bunch tackles the unclassified climb at Murray Bridge after 25km, which Brown reckons is “a nice painful way to start the race,” but he maintains a greater difficulty is posed by the wind in the exposed finale.

    “The final 70-odd kilometres is flat, dead-ish, slightly up, slightly down but it could be a slow run in to Mannum,” he said. “With the winds coming from the north at the moment, we should be in for a technical finish.”