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Second Edition Cycling News, Saturday, April 14, 2012

Date published:
April 14, 2012, 1:00 BST
  • Sanchez riding Amstel Gold Race as warm-up for Worlds

    Stage winner and overall Pais Vasco champion Sammy Sanchez celebrates with some champagne.
    Article published:
    April 14, 2012, 9:48 BST
    Cycling News

    Worlds medal only thing lacking from his personal wish list

    Samuel Sanchez is riding the Amstel Gold Race as a warm-up to the World Championships this fall, which will be held on nearly an identical course. The Euskaltel-Euskadi rider is also a challenger for the title on Sunday, as he showed his good form last week at the Vuelta al Pais Vasco, where he won two stages and finishing second in two others, to take the overall title.

    His definite goal?  “A world championship medal. Then I will have realized all by dreams since I began riding as a child.  I wanted to to shine at the Olympics. I did that in Beijing in 2008.  I wanted the polka-dot jersey at the Tour (de France, ed.). I did that last year. I wanted to win the Vuelta al Pais Vasco. I did that last week,” he said, according to

    “The only thing left is a medal at the Worlds. That is why it is so interesting to ride the Amstel Gold Race. It is a warm-up for the Worlds.”

  • Gilbert: My problems are behind me

    Philippe Gilbert (BMC Racing Team )
    Article published:
    April 14, 2012, 10:31 BST
    Barry Ryan

    Ahead of Amstel, defending champion hoping for improved form

    This day last year, Philippe Gilbert was, by his own admission, “almost certain” that he would win Amstel Gold Race. Twelve months and one high-profile transfer to BMC later, however, and Gilbert enters the third week in April scrambling for form after an underwhelming start to the campaign.

    “Last year, I was almost certain that I would win. This time, it’s different…” Gilbert said in a press conference in Liège on Friday, according to

    In 2011, Gilbert followed up a commanding win atop the Cauberg by rattling off victories at Flèche Wallonne and Liège-Bastogne-Liège, and such was his condition that anything less than a full house in the trio of hilly classics would almost have seemed a failure.

    That triptych was the masterpiece of Gilbert’s career to date, but he stressed that producing a carbon copy in 2012 would be nigh-on impossible.

    “I’m not thinking about the treble. The important thing is my condition and to win races. I’ve never been interested in records,” he said. “Above all, I want to return to a good level.”

    The precise reasons behind Gilbert’s low-key start to 2012 remain unclear, although since then he has endured a litany of misfortunes, including illness and dental problems at Tirreno-Adriatico, and a crash on the Cipressa at Milan-San Remo. It never rains but it pours.

    “I don’t want to say any more for fear that it won’t be exaggerated even more,” Gilbert said. “The important thing is to get back in the game....

  • Nuyens must postpone comeback from hip fracture

    Nick Nuyens (Saxobank) later crashed
    Article published:
    April 14, 2012, 12:30 BST
    Cycling News

    Saxo Bank rider looks to Four Days of Dunkirk

    Nick Nuyens has had to postpone his comeback to the peloton. The Saxo Bank rider had hoped to return to racing at the Tour of Turkey next week, but is now looking to the Four Days of Dunkirk in May.

    Nuyens fractured his right hip in a crash during the opening time trial of Paris-Nice the beginning of March. That kept him out of the Spring Classics, where he had hoped to defend his Tour of Flanders title.

    The Tour of Turkey “is still too early,” he told the Gazet van Antwerpen. “The quality of my training rides is improving rapidly, however, so I hope to be in the party at the Four Days of Dunkirk.

    After crashing in the Paris-Nice time trial, Nuyens started the second stage but the pain forced him to abandon whilst still in the neutralized zone. He did not require surgery but could not ride for a minimum of two weeks.

    The Belgian had expected to lead Saxo Bank in the Classics, and bring in much-needed UCI points in the absence of Alberto Contador.

  • No surgery needed for Martin, who returns home

    Time trial world champion Tony Martin (Omega Pharma-QuickStep)
    Article published:
    April 14, 2012, 14:35 BST
    Cycling News

    Says years of experience kept injuries from being worse

    Tony Martin's multiple fractures do not require surgery, and so the world time trial champion has gone home to recover. The Omega Pharma-QuickStep rider was hit by a car whilst training last week, suffering fractures of the eye socket, cheekbone, jaw, shoulder blade and upper arm.

    “My face is still very swollen, the left eye red and shut,” he wrote on his website. “I still can't move my arm properly.”

    Because of the broken jaw, he is on a diet of “soft and liquid nourishment” such as soups and puddings. He hoped to try soft bread over the weekend.

    “All in all, I and doing quite well, when you think that my accident was only two and a half days ago. It could have been much worse.”

    He credited  that to his years of experience. “It is good that I landed on my left side and not face-first. Probably I have had so many crashes as a pro that I automatically curled up and prepared myself for the crash in less than a second.”

    He must return for follow-up with the doctor in a week, and “I hope by then that the first signs of healing are visible.”

  • Cunego at classics with Giro d’Italia in mind

    Damiano Cunego seals the victory in the 2008 Amstel Gold Race
    Article published:
    April 14, 2012, 15:01 BST
    Barry Ryan

    Italian among favourites for Amstel Gold Race

    Throughout his career, Damiano Cunego (Lampre-ISD) has grappled with the question of whether he is better suited to the grand tours or the classics, perhaps without ever arriving at a wholly satisfactory conclusion.

    The conundrum is one that will continue in 2012, for while Cunego is among the favourites for Amstel Gold Race and Liège-Bastogne-Liège this week, he also appears set to line up at the Giro d’Italia in May.

    Cunego will return to Italy in the week between Amstel and Liège to ride the Giro del Trentino. Although he insists that the decision was taken primarily with La Doyenne in mind, he conceded that racing in Trentino would benefit his probable Giro participation.

    “After Liège, we’ll have the final confirmation of whether it’s what we’ll do. Officially, we’ll have to wait until then because there are a series of decisions that need to be made about the team for the Giro,” Cunego told Cyclingnews in Lanaken on Saturday.

    Michele Scarponi is all but certain to start, and given his status as the unwilling defending champion, he will expect to spearhead the team’s Giro challenge. Sitting aboard the Lampre-ISD team bus after a short training ride, however, Cunego warmed to the idea of teaming up with Scarponi in May. After all, his own Giro victory in 2004 was achieved in spite of a less than harmonious co-existence with Gilberto Simoni.

    “I think that both of us could certainly be hard for the others to deal with. If we ride in a united way, it can only be to the advantage of the team if we’re both there,” Cunego said.

    Solid showings at the Tour de Suisse and Tour de France...

  • Callegarin returns to racing at Giro dell'Appennino

    Daniele Callegarin (Team Type 1- Sanofi)
    Article published:
    April 14, 2012, 16:25 BST
    Cycling News

    Recovery complete from serious crash at 2011 USA Pro Cycling Challenge

    It's been nearly eight months since Daniele Callegarin (Team Type 1-Sanofi) suffered a serious crash during stage 2 at the 2011 USA Pro Cycling Challenge, but his recovery is finally complete and the 29-year-old Italian will return to competition at Sunday's Giro dell'Appennino.

    Callegarin was one of five riders who crashed on a cattle guard early in the 210km stage between Gunnison and Aspen and suffered the worst injuries, requiring an airlift to Denver, Colorado for treatment. The Team Type 1 rider sustained a severe concussion, significant facial and dental injuries, two broken hands and deep lacerations which ended his season.

    "I've been waiting for this moment and am happy to return to the peloton after the incident that forced me to a forced rest," said Callegarin. "I thank everyone who supported me in recent months and hope to repay them with a good performance."

    "Daniele has spent a long time recovering from surgeries, and we're very happy he is coming back fully healthy and fit on the bike to race again. The rest of the season looks wide open for him, and we know he is truly motivated to rejoin the peloton," said Team Type 1-Sanofi general manager Vassili Davidenko.

    Callegarin will be joined by Team Type 1-Sanofi teammates Julien Antomarchi, Rubens Bertogliati, Alessandro Bazzana, Fabio Calabria, Javier Megias and Georg Preidler for the 194.5km one-day Italian race.

  • Rodriguez ready to win one of the Ardennes Classics

    Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) on the podium in Tirreno-Adriatico
    Article published:
    April 14, 2012, 18:15 BST
    Cycling News

    Katusha rider has finished second in all three

    Joaquin Rodriguez has finished second in all three of the of the Ardennes Classics, and thinks that now “the time has come for a change.”  The Katusha rider is ready to stand atop the podium, and is one of the favourites to do so Sunday in the Amstel Gold Race.

    The Spaniard was second in Liège - Bastogne - Liège in 2009, and second behind Philippe Gilbert in both Amstel and La Flèche Wallonne last year.

    "Every season the Ardennes races have been among my goals. Only there is always a better rider. Take last year: Philippe Gilbert was almost unbeatable,” Rodriguez, 32, told

    He actually sees Amstel as least suited to him of the three upcoming races. “The Flèche Wallonne with the finish on the Mur de Huy suits me better, like Liège - Bastogne - Liège , but actually I don't care.”

    Rodriguez will be sharing captain duties on Sunday with Oscar Freire. The decision as to who the team will ride for will depend on how the race goes.  “If it looks like there will be a mass sprint on the Cauberg and that Oscar Freire has more opportunities, then I will sacrifice myself. If I am stronger and I can go with a group with some top riders, then I assume 'Oscarito' will protect the break.”

    He took a look at the other contenders. "Samuel Sanchez, winner of the Tour of the Basque Country, is as much a favorite as I am. Alejandro Valverde is still very dangerous, even after his comeback. Vincenzo Nibali also impressed me. Like at Milan-Sanremo, where he not coincidentally was third after he won Tirreno-Adriatico.”

  • Bettini: Worlds will be another Amstel Gold Race

    National coach Paolo Bettini says hello
    Article published:
    April 14, 2012, 19:21 BST
    Barry Ryan

    Italian coach looks forward to Valkenburg in September

    Among the interested observers at the Amstel Gold Race on Sunday will be Italian national coach Paolo Bettini, and he believes that the Dutch race is an ideal form guide for this year’s UCI World Championships in Valkenburg, which will take in many of the same roads in September.

    A regular participant at Amstel Gold Race in his racing days, Bettini is all the more familiar with the sinuous roads of Limburg because his own professional Worlds debut came in Valkenburg in 1998. In keeping with recent tradition, however, the 2012 Worlds will feature 100 kilometres of racing before reaching the finishing circuit, a novelty from when Bettini raced on the course 14 years ago.

    "I’m already familiar with the roads because of 1998, but I was curious to see those first 100 kilometres," Bettini told Cyclingnews in Maastricht on Saturday. "I saw it and I can say that these world championships will be another Amstel Gold Race. Those first 100 kilometres are more or less on the same roads as the Amstel Gold Race."

    After the trek from Maastricht to the finishing circuit, the peloton will face ten 16.5km-long laps over the Bemelerberg and the Cauberg. Unlike Amstel Gold Race, which finishes atop the Cauberg, the finish line in September comes 1.6 kilometres after the summit, as was the case when Oskar Camenzind triumphed in 1998. Even so, Bettini fully expects the final haul up the Cauberg to prove decisive, as has so often happened at Amstel Gold Race.

    "It changes very little because it’s less than two kilometres from the top of the Cauberg to the finish," he said. "Whoever goes strong the last time up the Cauberg will go all the way to the finish."

    The conditions in 1998 were famously treacherous, as wind and rain buffeted Valkenburg throughout the week. With...