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Second Edition Cycling News, Thursday, December 17, 2009

Date published:
December 17, 2009, 0:00 GMT
  • Caisse d'Epargne anticipates nervous Vuelta

    The last time many of the Vuelta people saw Valverde, he was clad in the Maillot Oro.
    Article published:
    December 17, 2009, 10:01 GMT
    Shane Stokes

    Team still interested in Contador for 2011

    Alfonso Galilea, one of the directeurs sportifs who helped Alejandro Valverde towards victory in this year’s Vuelta a España, has said that he expects the 2010 edition to be a very difficult race.

    “This Vuelta is very, very hard,” he told Cyclingnews immediately after Wednesday’s presentation. “There are six stages with summit finishes, and there a lot of new climbs that we don’t know and have to go to see. I think it is very, very tough, and it is very nervous. Almost every day there are some little climbs before the finish line; for those in front of the TV, it is very good, but for the riders, it is not so nice.”

    Asked whether or not he felt that the course is tougher than the one the riders faced in 2009, he said that it is not only the parcours that sets the difficulty. “It depends. Normally they say that a Tour is not hard because of the stages, but because of the riders. So it depends on the speed that the riders will go in this race.”

    Like Alberto Contador and Samuel Sanchez, the two other big names who were guests at Wednesday’s presentation, Valverde has not made a firm commitment to take part in the Spanish Tour. Part of the reason for that is because it is so late in the year, and also because he has a major target earlier in the summer. However, all going to plan, he will be there.

    “We have yet to decide the calendar but the idea is to participate in the Tour de France and the Vuelta a España,” said Galilea, confirming that the intention to defend the title. “We hope that next year he will be in good shape for the race, as he was this year.

    “If he is in good condition, the race should be fine for him. It won’t be easy, of course, but he will go there being one of the riders who can be on the podium of the Vuelta. He won the race this year, so he has to be one of the lead contenders for the...

  • Columbia-HTC aims for success in 2010 Vuelta

    Allan Peiper
    Article published:
    December 17, 2009, 10:38 GMT
    Cycling News

    Peiper calls course “very demanding” and “interesting”

    Team Columbia-HTC sees the 2010 Vuelta a España as “an interesting race, one in which our GC contenders and some of our other riders will have a real chance to shine.” The newly-announced route offers the US-based team plenty of chances to repeat its success from this year.

    Columbia-HTC won five stages in the 2009 Vuelta, one by Greg Henderson and four by sprinter Andre Greipel, who also took the overall points competition.

    "The Tour of Spain 2010 route is very demanding and the racing will be fast-moving and exciting all the way through, which is how we like it," said directeur sportif Alan Peiper.  "In the past we've always done well in those kinds of races.  In next year's Vuelta, the mountain stages aren't really concentrated in one or two big blocks like in the Tour de France. So with so much different terrain on offer, we can expect opportunities to come up constantly.

    “Overall, the route favours the real climbers,” he continued. "The opening team time trial [of 16.5 km - ed.] is so short that the time differences won't be great, and there is only one individual time trial.

    “However, you start to suffer on one of those big climbs in the Pyrenees and you can lose a minute a kilometre.  The route is deliberately designed so you can lose or win the Vuelta right up to the second to last day, as has happened in the past.  It's going to be a real challenge."

  • Bianchi warehouse hit by fire

    Backstedt's Bianchi is a little different from the rest - note the massive downtube.
    Article published:
    December 17, 2009, 11:23 GMT
    Hedwig Kröner

    Important inventory lost, recovery plan in place

    Italian bike manufacturer Bianchi has been affected by a serious fire, which broke out in the company's warehouse based in Telgate-Bergamo, on Wednesday morning. The Bianchi factory in Treviglio was not affected, as it is in another location, but some important inventory has been lost in the fire.

    Fortunately, Bianchi has confirmed that no employees were injured, and that it has put into place a recovery plan to continue its production flow. Moreover, the fire had no effect on the component inventory, so Bianchi is continuing to assemble bikes and working with the suppliers to accelerate shipments.

    "We have worked hard over the past months to satisfy the extremely strong demand for our new 2010 line," said Bianchi CEO Bob Ippolito. "We are confident that we can recover quickly and we fully rely on our team. The situation is under control."

    Salvatore Grimaldi, owner of Bianchi, was confident that the factory's production would be back to normal soon. "Fortunately we had no injuries and there is no effect to the historic Bianchi factory. We kindly ask our dealers to have patience and give Bianchi their support as we are preparing and implementing our recovery plan," he said.

  • Rabobank looks forward to Vuelta climbs

    2009 Giro d'Italia winner Denis Menchov (Rabobank) was on hand.
    Article published:
    December 17, 2009, 11:38 GMT
    Cycling News

    But Gesink and Menchov may not participate

    The 2010 Vuelta a España is “a very nice race with a special character,” according to Rabobank's directeur sportif Adri Van Houwelingen. However, the Dutch ProTour team doesn't know at this point whether its captains Robert Gesink and Denis Menchov will take on the climber's course next year.

    Gesink was captain at the 2009 Vuelta and in a promising position until injuries from a crash threw him back. The young Dutchman will concentrate on the Tour de France next year, after having to withdraw because of crash-related injuries this season.

    “If Robert Gesink is successful in the Tour, then he will not be at the start in Spain,” added Van Houwelingen.

    Also, it is not yet clear whether 2009 Giro d'Italia winner Denis Menchov will ride the event, which he won in 2005 and 2007. So far, the Russian's race programme has only been set up until the Tour, and does not include the Giro.

    Menchov usually rides two Grand Tours each year. "It could be that this time Denis again chooses the Tour and Vuelta, but it still much too early to talk about this,” said Van Houwelingen. As with Gesink, the decision will be made after the Tour.

    Looking at the 2010 parcours, the Dutchman noted that the Vuelta organisers seemed to pick out “particularly steep climbs. I have the impression that they succeeded in doing that again. Thus, the climb on the day after the first rest day has gradients up to 20 to 22 percent at the top. "

    He was also impressed with the third stage, from Marbella to Malaga, which takes the riders over the Cat. 1 Puerto del Leon in the last half of the short stage, which “makes the Vuelta interesting early. You cannot move up in the ranking in the Vuelta, you must be at the top from the beginning.”

    And the race ends as it starts, he noted, as the penultimate stage features two Cat.  climbs before the mountaintop finish at the Bola del Mundo. ...

  • Armstrong still possible for 2010 Worlds

    Lance Armstrong at his first official RadioShack press conference in Arizona on Tuesday. He said the team will share leadership in 2010.
    Article published:
    December 17, 2009, 11:38 GMT
    Susan Westemeyer

    Organisers haven't given up on persuading Armstrong

    Despite Lance Armstrong ruling himself out of the Worlds in Australia next fall, race organisers haven’t given up on him competing. The seven-time Tour de France winner, who won the Worlds road race in 1993, said at his Team RadioShack training camp last week that the Worlds were not yet in his racing schedule.

    “'The Worlds are an interesting idea,” Armstrong told Australian newspaper The Age. “Sitting here in December, it's easy to say ‘yes’, then you get through the Tour [de France] and you realise you have two more months and you have to go to Australia where the course isn't necessarily suited for you … to go to Melbourne would be super cool, but I have to guess I wouldn't be there.”

    ''Back in the old days, it used to be a month after the Tour,” he continued. ”When they moved it back to October I think it changed its importance on the international calendar.''

    Even though the organisers are aware of Armstrong’s stance, they haven't counted him out entirely. ''At best it was always 50-50 in our mind that he may not ride. But it still remains to be seen,” said Michael Palmer, general manager of the organising committee.

    “We're not closing the door and we've been talking on-and-off to his management. We'd certainly be keen to make sure he was here if we could, but obviously from a competitive perspective that's totally his decision.”

    In other news, Armstrong was runner-up in the vote for the Athlete of the Decade. The honour, voted by writers of the Associated Press, went to golfer Tiger Woods. Swiss tennis player Roger Federer finished third.


  • British Cycling to honour 50 Cycling Heroes

    Chris Boardman riding for Gan in the 1990s
    Article published:
    December 17, 2009, 11:57 GMT
    Susan Westemeyer

    First inductees into British Cycling Hall of Fame

    British Cycling has announced the first 50 cyclists to be honoured in the British Cycling Hall of Fame. The list includes well-known names Chris Boardman, Phil Liggett, Graeme Obree and Tom Simpson.

    The “50 Cycling Heroes” will be inducted into the Hall of Fame at British Cycling's 50th anniversary gala February 20, in Manchester.

    The selection panel chose from 300 nominations made by the public, ranging from riders to coaches to administrators and volunteers. The panel, consisting of journalists and representatives from British Cycling, purposely excluded those who are still active.

    "We made a conscious decision not to select elite riders who are still competing at an international level or coaches and managers at the top of their game,” said panel member Victoria Pendleton, Olympic and six-time World track champion.

    “We also agreed we should recognise administrators and volunteers who have been active in the sport over many years and have made a significant contribution to it during that time. There have also been several posthumous awards."

    Brian Cookson, British Cycling's president, was thrilled with the public's response, calling it "phenomenal ,” and adding, “With such a fantastic number of nominations this year we have decided to make the Hall of Fame an annual event to enable us to recognise more recent and current cycling successes."

    The Cycling Heroes include Chris Boardman, who claimed the hour record three times (later known as the athletes hour) in addition to Olympic gold and World time trial and track titles; former amateur rider and cycling journalist Phil Liggett; two-time World hour record holder and two-time World track champion Graham Obree, and Tom Simpson, who rode professionally from 1959 to 1967.

    The 50 Cycling Heroes to be inducted are:

    Pat Adams
    Caroline Alexander
    Brian Annable
    David Baker

  • UnitedHealthcare announces title sponsorship

    Rory Sutherland (Ouch pb Maxxis) all smiles before the start
    Article published:
    December 17, 2009, 13:10 GMT
    Kirsten Frattini

    Tamayo and Fraser to lead team in 2010

    After much delay, Momentum Sports Group (MSG) officially announced that UnitedHealthcare will take over the title sponsorship of the US-based Continental team formerly known as OUCH presented by Maxxis, in 2010.

    The newly named United Healthcare Pro Cycling Team presented by Maxxis will once again challenge the National Racing Calendar (NRC) along with various International Cycling Union sanction events across the USA, totaling 91 races.

    "We are really stoked because it's a good company with a good atmosphere and they are very involved with a balanced and healthy lifestyle, not just cycling," MSG President and Director of Sponsorship Thierry Attias told Cyclingnews. "We can't talk about the length of our contract with them but, they have along term view of this relationships."

    Last month, Floyd Landis and MSG announced the early termination of rider-contract agreement releasing Landis from the OUCH presented by Maxxis team before the end of the 2009 season. Landis was responsible for bringing 2009 title sponsor OUCH on board to void a financial hole left by previous long-term sponsors Health Net.

    OUCH Sports Medical Centre did not renew a contract for the 2010 season. Attias praised the company for its one year title role but was forced to turn to several other companies that expressed interest in supporting the team in 2010.

    "We are always talking with lots of potential title sponsors by courting them and each one has a different set of needs," Attias said. "It's always a race to the line. I believe OUCH would have been there to help us out, maybe not a title sponsor but the idea with OUCH was always a one year relationships."

    "They were great to us, helped us out and did a great job," he continued. "UnitedHealthcare stepped up and went with it and we knew that the long term success of the organization needed to move to get a corporate sponsor that could sustain a five to ten year vision."

  • Xacobeo Galicia satisfied with appeal of licence decision

    Spain's Xacobeo Galicia
    Article published:
    December 17, 2009, 13:40 GMT
    Cycling News

    Expects to get Professional Continental status again for 2010

    The Xacobeo Galicia team is confident that it will be granted its Professional Continental team status by the International Cycling Union (UCI) in January. The Spanish squad met with the UCI this week for talks on the matter.

    In the middle of November, the UCI announced that the team, along with 18 others, had passed the first stage in the licence application. However, Xacobeo did not receive final approval earlier this month when the others were announced, although no reason was given. The team was allowed to appeal the decision, and the final announcement is due January 4.

    Xacobeo met Wednesday with the UCI's steering committee, a few days after Jose Ramon Lete, the general secretary for sport for the Galicia region, met with UCI president Pat McQuaid in Madrid.

    Wednesday's meeting left the team “very satisfied,” according to a statement it issued. "It was a meeting in an atmosphere of utmost cordiality and collaboration,"said Pedro Alfaro, managing director of the Galego Cycling Foundation, which runs the team.

    "The Committee very much appreciated our effort and involvement, and asked us to provide more concrete aspects of the documentation submitted, which we put to work almost immediately," he continued.

    "I am convinced that on January 4 we will be in the 2010 Professional Continental teams category, with all that this implies for Galician and Spanish cycling,” Alfaro concluded optimistically.

    Xacobeo had six victories this season, including a stage in the Vuelta a España.