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Second Edition Cycling News, Saturday, January 16, 2010

Date published:
January 16, 2010, 0:00 GMT
  • Roberts' return a sweet homecoming

    After focusing on winning the Grenoble Six Day with Franco Marvulli last year, Luke Roberts is back on the road with Team Milram.
    Article published:
    January 16, 2010, 4:47 GMT
    Les Clarke

    Australian ready for ProTour life beginning on home turf

    He's an Olympic gold medallist, a Tour Down Under stage winner, a Tour de France rider and a child of the 'golden generation' of Australian cycling, but Luke Roberts has only just returned to the ProTour ranks after a two-year hiatus.

    In that time there was bad luck and injury that kept him relegated to Professional Continental squad Kuota Senges (Kuota-Indeland) during 2008 and 2009, as a broken hip early last season meant he missed a significant amount of racing in Europe.

    The situation began to derail plans Roberts had set as he neared the later stages of his career. "I thought that at the end of my career I'd do a few years solely concentrating on the six-day races in Europe over the winter when I was done on the road," said Roberts. "I knew I could switch back to that because it has a lot more to do with experience than strength.

    “I wanted that to be at the end of my career but it started happening sooner than I thought - I found myself only doing six-day racing at 31," he explained. "I knew there was more I could do on the road and I could do better - it was just a matter of getting the chance to do that and when this came through [an offer from Milram] I thought, 'Now's the time, 100 percent'."

    Roberts is well known in Germany and when he embarked on a mission to be signed by a ProTour team, he didn't need to look far beyond his doorstep. "I went down to the EuroBike show in Friedrichshafen and spent the day there on the hunt for a new contract through some of the contacts I had. A friend of mine works for SRAM as a sponsor manager and while I was visiting him at the SRAM stand I got to meet some of the directors at Team Milram, which got the ball rolling," said Roberts.

    "Mid-September I spoke with team management - we discussed what they were looking for in a rider and what I could offer them. It seemed a good fit, having lived in Germany for several years and speaking the language. I think it was the...

  • Soler escapes serious injury following training crash

    Mauricio Soler (Barloworld)
    Article published:
    January 16, 2010, 7:11 GMT
    Cycling News

    Colombian hit by car near his home

    Mauricio Soler says he is sore but otherwise fine, following his road accident earlier in the week. The Caisse d'Epargne rider was hit head-on by a car while training near his home in Ramiriqui, Colombia.

    “I'm very sore, as the impact was very hard,” the 27-year-old told the Colombian website He said he tried to avoid the car, but could not.

    Soler also added, “I was saved but my bicycle and helmet were destroyed.”

    He is to stop riding for five days to recover and undergo physical therapy at the Ramiriqui Medical Centre, but insisted it wouldn't slow him down in his season preparations. “I will stop for a few days, but I'll have time to recover. I am looking for my best form in the Tour de France and Vuelta a Espana.”

  • Astarloa retires with good and bad memories

    Igor Astarloa looking pensive
    Article published:
    January 16, 2010, 8:05 GMT
    Peter Cossins

    33-year-old ends career this weekend

    Igor Astarloa is sure to get mixed reviews as his racing career comes to an official end when his home town of Ermua pays tribute to him on Saturday. Winner of the world road title in Hamilton and Flèche Wallonne in 2003, the 33-year-old Basque has had a chequered career since.

    Released by Milram in May 2008 for irregular blood readings, his subsequent Amica Chips team folded for financial reasons in May 2009, and a month later he was one of the first five riders announced as having abnormal blood values under the UCI’s biological passport testing program.

    Although he insists he has done nothing wrong and could probably find another team to hire him this season, Astarloa says he’s had enough. His final act in professional cycling is likely be an appearance at Saturday’s celebration in Ermua, which has been organised by long-time cycling sponsor Cafés Baqué, whose president, María Baqué, also happens to be his wife.

    Contacted by El Mundo Deportivo at the family’s second home in Miami, Astarloa described Saturday’s tribute to him “the best way of finishing my career with a good memory”. He also admitted that since winning the 2003 world title, he’d had precious few of these. Even in the wake of that victory he had to counter rumours that he had tested positive.

    “The year that I won the Worlds was very good, and the following one with Cofidis was also quite good… But, since then, cycling has changed quite a bit. Things have become very complicated, we are persecuted, we constantly have to give details on where we are… this crisis isn’t helping attract sponsors to the sport at all,” he explained.

    Astarloa denied that he had been forced out of the sport by recent scandals, maintaining he could have found a new team. “But cycling isn’t the same as when I started. We used to really enjoy...

  • Cancellara considers hour record

    Fabian Cancellara en route to a dominating win at the 2009 time trial world championship in Mendrisio, Switzerland.
    Article published:
    January 16, 2010, 8:13 GMT
    Daniel Benson

    No timetable set, but it remains a goal

    World time trial champion Fabian Cancellara has reiterated his desire to tackle the world hour record. However, he would not go so far as to name a date or location, only confirming that it was still one of his goals.

    Cancellara, unquestionably the worlds best time trial specialist, is preparing for the 2010 season at Saxo Bank's training camp in Fuerteventura. He will take aim at the Classics this season, with his sights set firmly on the Tour of Flanders, as he tries to add another Monument to his wins in Paris-Roubaix and Milano-Sanremo.

    The hour record, however, is an event that Cancellara believes has lost some of its prestige in recent years and that it requires the interest of more riders.

    "It's lost its importance and some of its honour. Before every big champion did it. Guys like Rominger, Hinault, Indurain, Merckx, they all did it and now the current champion is Ondrej Sosenka and nobody talks about it," he told Cyclingnews.

    Despite showing more than an interest in the event, the Swiss national champion admitted that such an attempt would not be easy and that it would take considerable preparation, scheduling and training.

    "The hour record is a goal but there's no time set for that. It's a big project. It's not just a ride on the track and then you're done. It's more than that. You have to find the training, the bike, the track and I think that if I'm honest there are not that many riders who can do all of that."

    Cancellara stormed to victory in the world time trial championships in Mendrisio, Switzerland last year, winning by nearly a minute and a half and he believes that if he can devote time to the attempt he could raise the bar substantially.

    "With everything I've won in time trials I think it could be something good for me. I still have some other goals that I want to reach. But when I take on the record it has to be to set a long distance. I don't want to beat it by 100...

  • Evans joins team for Tour Down Under

    Cadel Evans (BMC) signs a few autographs before the stage start.
    Article published:
    January 16, 2010, 10:52 GMT
    Cycling News

    Rest of BMC preparing to gather in California

    World Champion Cadel Evans has joined his teammates in Adelaide, Australia, for the Tour Down Under, while the rest of the squad is preparing to gather in Santa Rosa, California, for their first training camp.

    “I'm enormously pleased to be joining my new team,” Evans said, after arriving at the team hotel on Friday evening. He will be making his debut with the US-based team.

    Evans does not have to face the jet-lag that the other riders do, as he has been in his native Australia since November. He immediately joined his teammates for a training ride on Saturday morning.

    The rest of the Professional Continental team will soon be gathering in Santa Rosa, California, for a training camp. Soigneurs were busy preparing supplies from the team's official apparel sponsor, Hincapie Sportswear, owned by rider George Hincapie.

    The firm sent 20 boxes to the training camp, containing everything from race wear to casual clothes for both riders and staff. More than 40 boxes were also sent to the team's service base in Belgium.

    Team mechanics also worked to prepared the BMC bikes, pro machine SLCO1s and racemaster SLX01s, to have things ready when the riders start arriving Saturday for the 14-day camp.

  • Cervélo TestTeam trains together

    Carlos Sastre chats during the coffee break.
    Article published:
    January 16, 2010, 16:48 GMT
    Stephen Farrand

    Men and women log training miles in Portugal

    The first day of the Cervélo TestTeam presentation weekend saw riders, media, sponsors and guests ride together on the Portuguese Algarve. Eighty riders set off under grey skies from the Robinson Club Quinta da Ria golf resort for a short out and back ride into the hills.

    The peloton was divided into five groups, called Paris-Roubaix, Milan-San Remo, Giro di Lombardia, Ronde van Vlaanderen and Paris-Tours.

    Dutch sprinter and new signing for 2010 Theo Bos led the Paris-Roubaix group; Carlos Sastre led the Milan-San Remo group, Heinrich Haussler piloted the Giro di Lombardia group; Thor Hushovd was in charge of the Ronde van Vlaanderen and Milriam Melchers headed the Paris-Tours group.

    Everyone wore the new 2010 Cervelo Test Team jersey which has the big Cervélo "é" on the back.

    Most of the riders also had their new black and white 2010 team bikes fitted with SRAM components and Rotor chainsets. In 2009, Cervélo used Shimano components. Every bike used by guests and media for the ride had been used by a Cervélo TestTeam rider in major competition in 2009.

    The weather was not great, but there were plenty of smiles and some bursts of racing on the climb to the coffee stop and in the final kilometres back to the hotel.

    The men had ridden for five and half hours the day before and so used the ride as a rest day. For some of the guest and media, even the 40km ride was a test of their endurance. A few got a helpful push to make sure they got back to the hotel.

    The 13 women riders and 25 men arrived in Portugal a week ago and will stay for another week of intense training.

    The team will hold its official presentation on Sunday morning.

    Women's team
    Elisabeth Armitstead (Great Britain)
    Emilie Aubry (Switzerland)
    Regina Bruins (Netherlands)
    Lieselot Decroix (Belgium)
    Sarah Düster (Germany)
    Claudia Häusler...

  • Leipheimer to open season in Europe

    Levi Leipheimer has won Tour of California three times.
    Article published:
    January 16, 2010, 18:04 GMT
    Daniel Benson

    American excited about new team

    With his first Team RadioShack training camp under his belt, Levi Leipheimer is ready to embark on the 2010 season. However the three-time Tour of California winner will be easing himself into the season and unlike the last three years, he will make his racing debut in Europe.

    Leipheimer spent 10 days of December at the team's training camp in Tucson, Arizona, and despite an illustrious career with teams like USPS, Rabobank, Gerolsteiner and Astana, he was still excited about pulling on another new jersey. "It was great. As far as training goes, it was low key. It was mainly about getting together, meeting new riders, sponsors and getting our new bikes and equipment," he said to Cyclingnews.

    "There were lots of logistical things to get out of the way so we can start the new year dialled in."

    Unlike his experience at Rabobank and Gerolsteiner, Leipheimer will be racing alongside Lance Armstrong once again, as they he did in Astana colours last year. Leipheimer is still taken aback by how much publicity and media interest the seven-time Tour winner receives.

    "The biggest difference was having Lance around and the attention on the team, there's a lot more media. Everything that goes on around him and Livestrong requires a lot more work than anything I've ever seen before. He's a busy guy, but RadioShack wouldn't be a team without Lance."

    Despite the media distractions, Leipheimer reaffirmed his racing goals and confirmed that the Tour of California is his biggest goal of the season. But with a new race date, the American has had to restructure his training programme. Leipheimer is one of the best riders at starting out strongly in the season, yet May’s new race date has meant that he has started 2010 in a much slower fashion, shying away from an early peak in form.

    "I have to structure my season differently and am starting out a little slower and in Europe. I can't be in the same form I was in...

  • Lack of helmet led to Kessler's skull fracture

    Matthias Kessler (Astana) up the Mur.
    Article published:
    January 16, 2010, 18:10 GMT
    Cycling News

    Doctors see good chances of recovery

    Matthias Kessler was not wearing a helmet when he crashed earlier this week on Majorca. The German has been placed in an induced coma, but the outlook for his recovery is better now.

    His father Karlheinz and brother Andreas have flown to Majorca. Karlheinz Kessler confirmed that his son was not wearing a helmet when he swerved to avoid a cat and crashed head-first into a wall, suffering a fractured skull.

    The 30-year-old underwent surgery to have blood clots removed and was subsequently placed in an induced coma to facilitate recovery. "The doctors are confident that he will recover," said the father to the Nürnrberger Nachrichten newspaper.

    Spanish sources say that Kessler is still in critical condition.

    Kessler served a two-year suspension for doping, and hoped to return to the peloton. "He was planning to come back to the sport again," Karlheinz Kessler said. He had not signed a contract for the current season but was said to have a verbal agreement with several teams.