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Second Edition Cycling News, Saturday, April 10, 2010

Date published:
April 10, 2010, 1:00 BST
  • Cofidis signs Labbe as it struggles to fill rosters

    Arnaud Labbe (Bouygues Telecom) gets a new bike.
    Article published:
    April 10, 2010, 1:22 BST
    Cycling News

    Former Bouygues Telecom rider returns to professional ranks

    Cofidis has signed Arnaud Labbe with the hope the French rider will fill a void in its Giro d’Italia roster. The contract, which runs through to the end of this season, is a turnaround in fortune for Labbe who was left without a professional contract this season.

    Having ridden for Bouygues Telecom from 2006 to 2009 and previously Auber 93 in 2005, he was forced to return to the amateur ranks this year with GSC Blagnac. While the 32-year-old’s main focus was in the cyclo-cross discipline, he’s no stranger to Grand Tours having contested both the Giro and Vuelta a Espana with Bouygues Telecom.

    Cofidis was forced to withdraw from Scheldeprijs on Wednesday after it failed to assemble enough riders to fill its roster. Injury and illness within its ranks left the squad with no alternative but to withdraw.

    Rider Jean-Eudes Demaret has been sidelined since contracting crohn's disease at the Tour of Gabon, while the team has also been without Tony Gallopin following an operation on his iliac artery.

  • Fans favour Cancellara for Roubaix victory

    Fabian Cancellara (Saxo Bank) awaits the start.
    Article published:
    April 10, 2010, 2:14 BST
    Greg Johnson

    Cyclingnews poll suggests another Saxo Bank win

    Saxo Bank’s Fabian Cancellara is favoured to win tomorrow’s Paris-Roubaix spring classic, with Cyclingnews fans voting heavily in favour of the Swiss rider’s squad in its first Facebook poll. A victory by Cancellara’s team got more than 70 percent of the fans votes, while just 29 percent believe another team can get over the top of Bjarne Riis’ squad.

    Spartacus has dominated the early months of the 2010 road season, winning the Tour of Oman’s general classification as he prepared for the spring events. Cancellara placed inside the top 20 at Milan-Sanremo before winning both E3 Prijs Vlaanderen and Tour of Flanders.

    Saxo Bank’s strength doesn’t only come from that possessed by Cancellara, with on the road captain Stuart O’Grady and Matti Breschel bolstering the roster. Breschel won Dwars door Vlaanderen however has suffered from ill-timed mechanical issues in the two races won by Cancellara.

    While Cancellara lines up as the favourite for Roubaix, it’s been a long time between drinks for the Swiss road champion at the French race. Cancellara has won the race on one occasion, back in 2006.

    There’s still time to add your votes to Cyclingnews’ Roubaix Facebook poll.

  • Winless Boonen in one of his best Classics campaigns

    A serene-looking Tom Boonen (Quick Step)
    Article published:
    April 10, 2010, 2:49 BST
    Brecht Decaluwé

    Belgian still believes he can beat Cancellara in Roubaix

    Tom Boonen was relaxed after reconnaissance of the Paris-Roubaix course on Friday, despite the threat posed to a record equaling fourth victory at French spring Classic by the Saxo Bank squad. Victory on Sunday would put the Quick Step rider on par with fellow Belgian Roger De Vlaeminck, but the 29-year-old seems satisfied to focus on individual wins rather than records.

    "I'm busy with that fourth win because everybody is busy with it. Fabian Cancellara doesn't want to see me win, nobody wants me to win," Boonen laughed. "I'm not better than anybody else. I'll just try to win it for a fourth time and that would make me happy; of course I would be happy with a fifth win too.

    “To me it's not that important now, but once I have it I'll realise what I did,” he added. “Probably even more when my career as a rider is behind me."

    Falling just short in Milano-Sanremo, E3 Prijs Harelbeke and the Tour of Flanders puts Boonen in an unusual position heading into Roubaix. Yet while he’ll line up in Paris without a spring win to his name, his consistency will ensure he’s amongst the contenders inside the final 20 kilometres of Roubaix’s famed velodrome.

    "I'm not used to being in this position, without a big win in the spring Classics,” said Boonen. “I've been the most consistent rider with my second places. In Milano-Sanremo I encountered a very strong Oscar Freire and in Flanders a very strong Fabian Cancellara.

    “Winning and losing are so close to each other in these races. I think I'm having one of my best years but of course it would be great if I could add a win in Paris-Roubaix to the list.”

    With Saxo Bank, and in particular Cancellara, so strong so far this season, Boonen knows exactly who he’ll be shadowing come Sunday. Boonen is planning on the race ending in a sprint between a small selection of riders, an outcome which has proven fruitful for the rider...

  • Millar hopes to continue with Classics breakthrough

    A shattered David Millar (Garmin - Transitions) recovers after the race.
    Article published:
    April 10, 2010, 9:29 BST
    Cycling News

    Happy with results but sees much room for improvement

    For David Millar last Sunday’s Tour of Flanders represented a breakthrough. The Garmin-Transitions rider was a late attacker, and at one stage a challenger for the podium, but, six days on and on the eve of Paris-Roubaix, he finds himself looking back rather wistfully, with a mixture of satisfaction and regret.

    “I’m split,” said Millar. “I’m over the moon at the ride and what I did, but I can clearly see the lessons I have to learn. I was badly placed for forty of the critical kilometres, when I kept chasing back on. I walked up the Koppenberg, and was never really at the front until the very end, when everyone else was knackered.

    “I hadn’t done any reconnaissance,” continued Millar. “I didn’t have time, because I was too tired after [the Three Days of] De Panne [which he won]. So a lot of those climbs were new to me. I’d never done Paterberg, Koppenberg, Molenberg... and it became shockingly obvious how important it is to know the course intimately. Added to that, I wasn’t getting enough bottles - I kept losing them.

    “Those are the negatives,” added Millar. “The positives are that I was one of the strongest there. I had no problem picking through the groups, and when Philippe [Gilbert] countered behind Tom [Boonen] and Fabian [Cancellara] in the crosswinds, I was at ease; I was able to follow and watch.

    “I was just waiting for the perfect moment to go. And when I went, it was on a section of road that, oddly enough, I knew really well - I’d done it twice in De Panne - and so I knew the next climb [Tenbosse]. Which only goes to show how important the rece’ is - the one bit of road I knew, I attacked on.”

    When Millar was joined by Gilbert (Omega Pharma-Lotto) and Björn Leukemans (Vacansoleil), he “became aware I was racing for the podium. The guys behind weren’t going to catch us. It was...

  • Txurruka breaks collarbone in Pais Vasco

    Amets Txurruka (Euskaltel - Euskadi) was in the lead group with 20 kilometres remaining.
    Article published:
    April 10, 2010, 9:50 BST
    Susan Westemeyer

    UPDATED: Basque rider unable to defend climber's jersey on Saturday

    Amets Txurruka broke his collarbone in a crash on the descent of the Alto de Aia in Friday's Vuelta al Pais Vasco fifth but the Euskaltel-Euskadi climber's hopes to ride Saturday's final time trial stage in defense of the King of the Mountains competition were dashed.  Saturday morning it was announced that he would not be at the start of the closing stage, having had a bad night with the fracture.

    Txurruka was away alone when he crashed. Despite the injury, he finished the race, coming in over 14 minutes down. Directly after the stage, he was taken to hospital in Guipúzcoa, where a clean fracture of the right collarbone was diagnosed. He immediately asked the doctors whether it would be possible for him to ride on Saturday.

    The 27-year-old had secured the mountains classification in the race, with a total of 66 points. There are no ranked climbs in the closing time trial. But he will lose the title if he does not finish the final stage.

    “His participation in Saturday's stage seems very complicated,” the team said in a statement issued Friday evening. “Txurruka wears the leader's jersey in the mountain competition and has it wrapped up. That is the only factor that would allow him to participate in the race, and that will be decided on Saturday.”

    The fracture will not require surgery, and Txurruka is expected to return to racing in late May.

  • Phinney out of U23 Flanders, returns home

    Taylor Phinney took his second consecutive pursuit title in Copenhagen.
    Article published:
    April 10, 2010, 10:02 BST
    Daniel Benson

    American struck by tendonitis after crash in Europe

    Taylor Phinney has been ruled out of today’s U23 Tour of Flanders with suspected tendonitis and has returned home to the USA.

    The Trek-Livestrong rider crashed during the opening time trial at last week’s Le Triptyque des Monts et Châteaux, while riding with the USA team. Despite winning a stage later in the race, his knee became more of a problem once the race was over.

    Phinney was scheduled to take part in a series of U23 races this spring before returning the US for the Tour of Gila. He’ll now seek treatment for his knee at home, taking up to a week off the bike.

    “I crashed last weekend in the time trial but carried on racing as it felt ok. But on Tuesday I got three hours into my ride and I couldn’t pedal with my right knee anymore,” Phinney told Cyclingnews.

    Phinney had his knee assessed by a number of medical staff in Belgium, including the BMC team doctors and talked to his parents before reaching the decision to return home.

    “It’s painful and uncomfortable to ride with and I don’t want to make things worse this early in the season,” he said. “I would rather go home and deal with doctors that I’m used to. I’m bummed to be missing these next three races as they’re ones I can win. But that’s how this sport goes, you can’t always control what happens.”

    Phinney’s next race will be the Tour of Gila at he end of April, where it’s rumoured that Lance Armstrong, Dave Zabriskie and Tom Danielson will also ride.

  • Rabobank interested in signing Breschel

    Matti Breschel (Saxo Bank)
    Article published:
    April 10, 2010, 11:29 BST
    Cycling News

    Dane could be Dutch team's future Classics leader

    Matti Breschel (Saxo Bank) is said to be the desired new team leader for Rabobank. If the Danish champion joins the Dutch team, he would replace the team's current spearhead, Belgian Nick Nuyens. The latter is in the last year of his contract but failed to leave an impression during his two-year spell at Rabobank. Breschel, on the other hand, stepped forward as a spring classics specialist this season by winning Dwars door Vlaanderen and impressing during Gent-Wevelgem and the Ronde van Vlaanderen.

    Despite his tender age the Dane is one of cycling's rising stars. Back in 2006 a hard crash with Robbie McEwen during the Driedaagse van West-Vlaanderen set him back, but two years ago the 25 year-old Dane featured on the podium of the world championships in Varese where he grabbed the bronze medal.

    Like Heinrich Haussler last year, Breschel is the revelation of this year's spring classics season. The Danish champion impressed on the cobbled classics as he seemed to be a match for protagonists Tom Boonen and Fabian Cancellara on the climbs and the pavé sectors. Breschel scored his first major classics win in Dwars door Vlaanderen after completing a 23 kilometre long solo. The Dane also seemed to be the strongest man in Gent-Wevelgem before being thrown out of the leader's group deep into the finale with a flat. More bad luck struck the Danish champion during the Ronde van Vlaanderen where a miserable double bike switch cost him his place in the first peloton.

    Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf claims that Rabobank has been tracking Breschel over the past 18 months. The Dutch team is said to have contacted Bristle's manager Rolf Sörensen to show that they're still more than interested in signing the Danish champion for the 2011 season. Breschel has been riding for Bjarne Riis' teams since 2005 but has apparently not yet extended his contract with the team, which at the moment does not have a sponsor for the coming season.

    On Sunday...

  • Pronk to retire end of April

    Most aggressive rider Matti Pronk (Vacansoleil)
    Article published:
    April 10, 2010, 13:44 BST
    Cycling News

    Vacansoleil leaves sport a few months earlier than planned

    Matthe Pronk of Vacansoleil has decided to end not only his season but his career on April 25, with the Ronde van Noord-Holland as his last race. The 35-year-old had previously planned to end his career at the end of this season.

    "I had a lot of fun at Vacansoleil and this group of guys suits me. However, this summer I want to study at the Johan Cruijff University," he told the news agency Belga. It would have been too difficult to juggle family, school and racing, Pronk said.

    "I will go for the win in my last race, that would be a nice farewell."

    Pronk turned pro with Rabobank in 1999, and 2003 joined Bankgiroloterij for two years. He was with in 2005, and with from 2006-2008, before joining Vacansoleil last year.

    His major successes have come on the track. He won the European Derby title in 2008 and 2007, as well as numerous Dutch titles over the years.