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Second Edition Cycling News, Monday, January 18, 2010

Date published:
January 18, 2010, 0:00 GMT
  • 2010 Acqua e Sapone team presented in L'Aquila

    Francesco Di Paolo
    Article published:
    January 18, 2010, 14:07 GMT
    Stephen Farrand

    Ceremony marks effort to revive earthquake damaged region

    The Acqua e Sapone team held its official presentation in L’Aquila on Sunday, the central Italian town devastated by a major earthquake in the spring on 2009.

    Acqua e Sapone is the only team based in the Abruzzo region and will have a special ‘Forza L’Aquila’ logo on the 2010 jersey in support of an association formed by well-known athletes from the region, including Formula 1 driver Jarno Trulli. The non-profit 'Forza l'Aquila' association aims to raise enough funds to build a new sports complex in the much damaged city.

    The Acqua e Sapone team is again a Professional Continental team in 2010 and is hoping for a ride in the Giro d’Italia. Stage 11 of this year’s Giro d’Italia will finish in L’Aquila on May 19.

    The team line-up is largely unchanged with veteran Stefano Garzelli the stage race leader and Luca Paolini the protected rider for the sprints and one-day races.

    Garzelli was second in last year’s Tirreno-Adriatico and was seventh overall in the Giro, while Paolini was part of the Italian team at the world championships.

    New riders for 2010 include Rafaâ Chtioui from Tunisia, who was second in the 2004 junior world road race championships, Reiner Honig, who arrives from Vacansoleil, and former Liquigas domestique Vladimir Miholjevic. Perhaps the most pormising rider is Colombia’s Cayetano Sarmiento. He won the amateur Giro d’Italia stage race in 2009 and directeur sportif Franco Gini is convinced he has discovered the next great Colombian climber.

    The team also includes Andrea, Francesco and Simone Masciarelli, who are all sons of team manager and former professional Palmiro Masciarelli. Francesco is a talented climber and finished 17th overall in the 2009 Giro d’Italia. He could win a stage and challenge for the climber’s jersey in this year’s race if the team is invited.

    Acqua e Sapone 2010...

  • Stevens keen to consolidate at HTC-Columbia

    Evelyn Stevens (Webcor) happy to be in yellow again.
    Article published:
    January 18, 2010, 16:02 GMT
    Richard Tyler

    Patience the key in US rider's sophomore season

    HTC-Columbia's Evelyn Stevens says she will use her first full season as a professional to continue her lighting transition to a full-time member of the women's peloton.

    A revelation on the women's cycling scene in 2009, Stevens' contract with HTC-Columbia has completed a rapid twelve-month transition from a career on New York's Wall Street to that of a professional cyclist. Despite six wins last year, including a stage win at La Route du France and overall victories at the Fitchburg Longsjo and Cascade Classics', the 26-year-old Stevens will continue to focus on the steep learning curve of her chosen sport.

    "I'm just really hoping to learn. I think coming into the sport so quickly, there's a lot of things I really need to focus on if I really want to become a really top-level, world-class cyclist," Stevens told Cyclingnews at the HTC-Columbia training camp in Majorca. "You have to have everything down pat to be the best: your bike-handling skills, your tactics; there's a lot I still have to learn."

    Within months of taking up the sport in 2008, guest appearances with the US Lip Smackers and Webcor Builders teams last season ensured Stevens was able to demonstrate her obvious talent. She admits that her quick-fire journey to the top of podiums had left little time to take stock of what was happening.

    "Yeah, it happened that quickly. I was like, 'oh, oh, I won again'. The family joke was that I'd send emails saying 'I won this race, or I won that race', and then they started seeing stuff in papers and on the internet. I had a long winter of training, but the summer flew by," she said.

    Now a part of one of the strongest teams in women's cycling, Stevens' sophomore year will give her the opportunity to settle amongst the riders established in the women's peloton. She is convinced it is the best place to foster her development within the sport.

    "In my opinion, how are you going to ride like the best if you...

  • Stapleton: HTC-Columbia can go toe-to-toe with Sky

    HTC-Columbia team owner Bob Stapleton speaks to the media at the team's launch in Adelaide.
    Article published:
    January 18, 2010, 17:55 GMT
    Cycling News

    US team still competitive in transfer market

    Bob Stapleton believes his HTC-Columbia team is well positioned to compete for riders after 2009 saw the first major buy-outs of riders already under contract by rival teams. While the practice of big-dollar transfers is common in sports like football, the tactics employed to entice riders like Bradley Wiggins from Garmin-Slipstream to Team Sky were a reasonably new occurrence for cycling.

    Stapleton’s team was also at the centre of Team Sky’s thirst to fill out its first ProTour roster, with riders like Greg Henderson and Edvald Boasson Hagen being lost to the British outfit. Despite admitting he wished HTC-Columbia was able to hold on to Boasson Hagen in particular, Stapleton believes his outfit is well positioned to compete for riders.

    “I don’t fear that at all,” said Stapleton. “I’m ready for that anytime anybody wants to do that, we can be active in that too. I do think it’s a little unique; there are a lot of new teams in the market that need to have key riders. I mean I think Sky was in trouble if they didn’t have Wiggins. I think for the British market they needed a top name British rider, that’s just reality.

    “I think BMC, to get into the big races, needed big names,” he added. “It makes total sense to me and I feel like we can play in that game very well, on defense or offense – whatever it takes.”

    One rider Stapleton has no plans of pursuing is defending Tour de France champion Alberto Contador, whose contract with Astana is up for renewal at year’s end. It’s nothing personal between Contador and Stapleton, instead the team is taking a different development path to try and achieve glory at the French Grand Tour.

    “I’ve got a ton of respect for him but we haven’t spoken to him at all,” said Stapleton. “I just feel like he’s going to be the dominant guy at the Tour for the...

  • Riccò shrugs off Cavendish criticism

    Riccardo Riccò
    Article published:
    January 18, 2010, 18:55 GMT
    Cycling News

    Italian climber set to return on March 18

    Riccardo Riccò has shrugged off comments made by Mark Cavendish that he is a "parasite" and insists he is remorseful about taking CERA before the 2008 Tour de France.

    Riccò’s 20-month ban for taking the banned blood boosting drug ends on March 18, just two days before Milano-Sanremo, which he hopes to ride. On Friday Riccò is expected to be the star of the Flaminia team presentation in Italy.

    When Gazzetta dello Sport offered Ricco a right to reply to Cavendish’s strong words, he also had a few things to say.

    “Why am I parasite? What does he mean when he says I’ve shown no remorse?” Ricco asked.

    “I even helped the anti-doping investigators and that’s why they gave me a 20-month ban instead of 24 months. Of course, he (Cavendish) is at the peak of his career and so he can say what he wants.”

    “I’m not going to respond because I’m the last person who can speak after what I did. He’s the number-one sprinter in the world and so he’s always right. I’m in the wrong and can’t respond until we see each other on the road. However I’m not that bothered about what he’s said or what he thinks. I can only guarantee people that I’m training hard and I’m already at a very good level.”

    When told that Cavendish has the urge to get off the bike and hit him, Riccò offered the other cheek but also made a subtle dig at Cavendish.

    “Ok. I’ll take it. Not only out on the bike but in a fight as well. I’ll shut up (laughs),” he said.

    “Yet I don’t even know him! And he doesn’t know me! How can he say something like that? He’s gone over the top this time…”

    Riccò insisted that he is remorseful about his doping and that he has suffered during his ban. But now he is training hard and motivated to...

  • Rasmussen aims for top ten in San Luis

    Michael Rasmussen returns with the Italian Miche team.
    Article published:
    January 18, 2010, 19:39 GMT
    Kirsten Frattini

    Dane's return with Miche begins in Argentina this week

    Michael Rasmussen has returned to the professional peloton with Italian Continental team Miche Silver Cross at Argentina's Tour of San Luis held from January 18-24, 2010. The Dane is eyeing a top ten finish in the season opener and looking forward to a smooth return to full European schedule set to begin in February.

    "I'm feeling OK," Rasmussen told Cyclingnews. "If I can finish in the top ten in the overall here then I will be happy and if I can win a stage then I will be stunned. I think course-wise this race suits me very well but it might be a little early. Already on Tuesday there will be the first mountaintop finish and even though it is only four kilometres it will give a good indication as to who is going well."

    The Tour of San Luis is in its fourth year and teh second year as a UCI 2.1 category event, making it the highest ranked and most important cycling race in South America. The peloton will consist of nine national teams include defending champions Team Argentina along with Mexico, Colombia, Uruguay, Brazil, Chile, Bolivia and Cuba.

    "It is very important for all the locals, Chileans and Brazilians and others because it's their summer here," Rasmussen said. "I'm coming off my holidays and in Europe it's been snowing and raining all over the place so we [European cyclists] are a little bit behind. I've never raced in January before in my life."

    While many of the highest quality teams are taking part in Australia's Tour Down Under this week, Argentina's warm summer weather attracted three ProTour teams Liquigas-Doimo, Katusha and Footon-Servetto along with five Professional Continental teams ISD, Andalucia Cajasur, Xacobeo-Galicia, Scott-Marcondes and Androni-Giacatolli.

    "I have a fairly good idea who can do something here but there are always surprises at these kinds of events," Rasmussen said. "I think there will be a few Argentinean riders that can go fast and maybe a couple of Venezuelans and some...

  • McDonald to defend Trust House title

    Peter McDonald won the 2009 Australian road championship and returns to defend his title.
    Article published:
    January 18, 2010, 20:27 GMT
    Cycling News

    Drapac-Porsche returning to New Zealand with strong line-up

    Peter McDonald is set to defend his Trust House Cycle Classic title in Wellington and the Wairarapa next week. The Australian will lead the Drapac Porsche UCI Continental team, perhaps the strongest of the seven Australian squads to have entered for the 23rd running of the classic, starting in Upper Hutt next Wednesday.

    McDonald’s win in Wellington was the icing on his cake in early 2009, having won the Australian Open Road Championship earlier that month. Race organiser Jorge Sandoval was delighted to announce the Australian’s return.

    “We saw how professional the Drapac Porsche team was at last year’s classic,” Sandoval said. “They will come to the classic very well prepared, and with a full backup group of masseurs, a mechanic and a coach it shows how serious they are. If this team rides as it should it will be a top contender to have one of its members take the overall title back to Australia.”

    McDonald will get support from Joseph Lewis, Lachlan Norris, Michael Phelan and Thomas Palmer at the race. Norris’ background is in mountain biking, which includes having won the 2008 Oceania title, and being 11th at the UCI World Championships last year. Phelan was last year’s Australian under-19 road champion and was third in the sprint competition in last year’s Trust House classic.

  • Arashiro trains in Thailand, eyes first pro win

    Yukiya Arashiro is enjoying the Tour de France.
    Article published:
    January 18, 2010, 20:31 GMT
    Jean-François Quénet

    Japanese star ready for second season with Bbox

    After becoming the first Japanese rider to have completed the Tour de France, crossing the line in Paris ahead of his compatriot Fumiyuki Beppu, Bbox Bouygues Telecom's Yukiya Arashiro is ready for his second season in the European peloton.

    Currently training in Thailand with Korean team Geumsang Ginseng Asia with some of his former teammates at EQA Meitan-Hompo, including Shinichi Fukushima, Arashiro expressed his fondness for the country to Cyclingnews.

    "I always enjoy coming back here because the climate is similar to the one of the island of Ishigaki where I was born, the terrain is suitable for long rides and I love Thai food."

    2010 will be his second season with the French outfit, and while the squad is no longer a ProTour team it has a guaranteed start at the Tour de France. It's also the last year of the contract between the Vendée-based squad and the mobile phone operator. That means it will be a crucial season for Arashiro.

    "Bbox is like an adorable family, so I'd like to continue with the same set-up," he said. "After my first experience, I hope for a second start at the Tour de France but more than that, I aim at a stage win in a Grand Tour. My ambition for 2010 is to simply win a race."

    That would be a first for Arashiro who made the top 5 in a Tour de France stage at his first attempt. The 25-year-old has another wish: "I want to do the Tour de France again but I don't want to be the only Japanese on the start line. I hope that Beppu and Yukihiro Doi will be there too."

    Beppu's future remains uncertain as he has signed contracts with two different teams but doesn't yet appear in RadioShack's roster, while his former team Skil-Shimano – with Doi – is far from certain to get a wild-card again.

    Arashiro's provisional race program includes the Tour of Algarve, Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne, Le Samyn, Paris-Nice, Gent-Wevelgem, the Three Days of De...

  • O’Grady not in Tour Down Under contention

    Stuart O'Grady is a picture of concentration before the time trial. Thinking about his workload on Saturday, perhaps?
    Article published:
    January 18, 2010, 20:44 GMT
    Greg Johnson

    Local feeling 100 per cent after turbulent 2009

    Stuart O’Grady is focusing on getting racing kilometres back in his legs at this week’s Tour Down Under, with the local rider counting himself out of contention for this year’s race.

    O’Grady fought a close battle with eventual winner Allan Davis at last year’s event, but off the back of a bout of pneumonia, he is simply looking to rebound in time for the Spring Classics.

    “I really haven’t done enough preparation to be ready for Tour Down Under, I’ve only done about 16 training rides in nearly two months,” said O’Grady. “I’m a long, long way off what I would have usually done for the race and a long way off what my competitors have done.

    “Even though I’ve said I haven’t had great form in the past but have been able to use experience to stay up there, this year I just haven’t got the power,” he added. “I won’t have the power on the climbs to stay up there, definitely not on Willunga, so my goal here is just to try finish each stage and just spend hours on the bike. That’s life; I’ve just got to take this Tour Down Under as a stepping stone now to get ready for the Classics.”

    O’Grady has won the Tour Down Under on two occasions and is usually riding strongly at this time of year. This time around the Paris-Roubaix winner is just happy to be healthy and back racing with a clear run to the Spring Classics.

    “I’m feeling fine, my health is back to 100 percent,” he said. “It’s been a pretty turbulent six weeks, with my family’s health, me getting pneumonia was like the cherry on the cake. I’m just looking forward to 2010.”

    O’Grady had a successful mid-section to his 2009 season, delivering Andy Schleck to the Tour de France podium and assisting in Cadel Evans’ International Cycling Union World Road Championship victory. It was...