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Second Edition Cycling News, Thursday, December 31, 2009

Date published:
December 31, 2009, 0:00 GMT
  • Vacansoleil lays out early season plans

    Article published:
    December 31, 2009, 11:26 GMT
    Cycling News

    Hoogerland, Leukemans to lead team in late January start

    The Vacansoleil Pro Cycling Team has already set its sights on the 2010 season opener, the GP d'Ouverture La Marseillaise on January 31. In 2009, Johnny Hoogerland finished in fifth place for the team and will try to improve upon that result this year. He will be helped by sprinter Borut Bozic, Roman and Brice Feillu, Marco Marcato, Lieuwe Westra, Frederik Veuchelen and Björn Leukemans.

    The next race will be the Etoile de Bessèges from February 3-7, the race where last year Leukemans won the team's first race in 2009. The team will then move on to the Tours of Qatar and Oman, while another group will do the Tour Méditerranéen.

    The last preparation for the Belgian early season semi-Classics will be at the Volta ao Algarve and Ruta Del Sol. In the final weekend of February comes the Omloop het Nieuwsblad (1.HC), Kuurne-Bruxelles-Kuurne and the Clasica Almeria.

    Sport director Hilaire Van Der Schueren is happy with the program. “In November we individually talked with all riders about their program and ambition. If you look at the program for February all riders can certainly get some races done. In these races we will be full of ambition because a good start gives good spirit to the team.”

    The team will be presented to the press on January 26th.

  • Fly V Australia announce 2010 roster

    Tour leader Jonathan Cantwell (right) is congratulated by Fly V Australia teammate David Kemp after winning stage three into Barham.
    Article published:
    December 31, 2009, 11:38 GMT
    Greg Johnson

    Two South Africans, three Australians join outfit

    Fly V Australia is planning a broader racing program throughout 2010 – which it hopes will include the tours of Ireland and Britain – to assist with its planned step up to Professional Continental status in 2011, according to team manager Chris White. The Australian squad has added five new riders to its roster for next year, when it will again feature prominently in the Australian and North American racing scene.

    “On our way to the US in February we will be competing in India and Singapore and later in the year we hope to be granted starts in the Tour of Ireland and Britain,” said White. “Our vision is to be part of the Pro Tour and we have made significant steps towards our objective.

    “Australia is the third ranked Nation in cycling and does not have a Pro Tour team, this needs to be addressed and over the next two years we intend to build to this level,” added White. “In Europe cycling is a historical sport and seven-eleven was North America’s cycling frontier back in the ’70s, it’s time for an Australian Pro Tour team.”

    White has signed two South Africans to the roster for 2010: Darren Lill, who joins from Team Type 1 where he rode to second overall at the Tour of Utah, and current South African Time Trial Champion Jay Thomson, who rode for South African team MTN Cycling in 2009. The team has added some climbing talent with Australian Jai Crawford, who finished runner-up at this year’s Tour de Langkawi.

    Two other Australians have joined Crawford in moving to Fly V Australia, including former Astana rider Aaron Kemps and David Tanner, who finished in the Herald Sun Tour’s top 10 after spending the season with Michael Ball’s Rock Racing. White said the five will help balance out the team’s range of abilities, after having a squad built predominately around sprinters in 2009.

    “Coming off a great 2009 we looked closely at...

  • Simoni to continue?

    Former Giro champion Gilberto Simoni after finishing 13th on the Blockhaus.
    Article published:
    December 31, 2009, 11:57 GMT
    Hedwig Kröner

    Reported to sign with Continental team Meridiana-Kamen

    Italian rider Gilberto Simoni may remain in the peloton this coming year. According to Italian daily Il Mattino, the two-time Giro d'Italia winner, 38 years old, is about to sign with a new Continental team, Meridiana-Kamen. The squad was created by joining together the Estonian Meridiana-Kalev Chocolate Team and Croatian amateur outfit Puris-Kamen-Pazin.

    "We are currently negotiating with Gilberto Simoni," said Meridiana-Kamen team manager Antonio Giallorenzo. "He might be 38 years old, but he still has many roads to ride."

    Simoni had been rumoured to retire since his contract with Gianni Savio's Diquigiovanni team runs out at the end of 2009. Various teams like Lampre and Astana thought about signing him, but in the end discarded the idea. Astana's new directeur sportif, Giuseppe Martinelli, indicated that Simoni wanted to retire after the 2010 Giro d'Italia.

    While it is doubtful that Meridiana-Kamen will be invited to the Italian Grand Tour, Simoni could still opt to end his career at home in the Giro del Trentino in April.

    If a contract is signed, Simoni would join former Italian champion Salvatore Commesso as well as Frenchman Aurélien Passeron at Meridiana-Kamen.

  • Valverde hopes for Classic win

    Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne) savors his time in the golden jersey.
    Article published:
    December 31, 2009, 12:00 GMT
    Hedwig Kröner

    Preferred 2009 Dauphiné to Vuelta victory

    Alejandro Valverde is looking forward to next year's racing as the first half of his 2010 schedule has been established with his Caisse d'Epargne team. Speaking to Spanish daily El Mundo, the 2009 winner of the Dauphiné Libéré and Vuelta a España confirmed that his programme will commence with the Tour Down Under in January and that he will once again participate in the Tour de France come July.

    Valverde's races after the start of the ProTour series in Australia will be the Tour Méditerranéen, Tour du Haut-Var, Paris-Nice, the Vuelta a Catalunya and the Vuelta al País Vasco. His first peak of performance will be timed around the Ardennes Classics in Belgium and in the Netherlands in April, where the two-time Liège-Bastogne-Liège winner hopes for another victory.

    Valverde wants to start the season strongly in order to be more competitive. "We'll see if I can be in better form at the Classics to continue fighting for a win," he said.

    The time span between the Classics and the Tour de France remained undefined, although chances are very high Valverde will be present to defend his double Dauphiné Libéré crown in June. Together with his Vuelta victory, the French stage race is one of Valverde's dearest memories of the past year.

    "They are two different memories. The stage up the Mont Ventoux left me ecstatic, because it was the perfect stage which gave me the overall win in the Dauphiné for the second consecutive year. In the Vuelta, I felt my joy increasing day by day until the final elation. But the most stellar moment was the Dauphiné," the Spaniard explained.

    Taking the overall victory in the Vuelta has boosted Valverde's Grand Tour ambitions, but he did not deny that the Tour de France will still be harder to conquer, especially because of one ribval, fellow countryman Alberto Contador.

    "You have to be...

  • Contador and Schleck hard to beat in 2010, Armstrong says

    USA's Lance Armstrong (Astana) watches the 2010 Tour de France presentation in Paris
    Article published:
    December 31, 2009, 12:18 GMT
    Cycling News

    Seven-time Tour winner totally focused on 2010 Tour de France

    There is no question as to what Lance Armstrong's goal is in the coming season. In the second part of an extensive interview with Belgian papers De Telegraaf and Het Nieuwsblad, the seven-time Tour de France winner reiterated his objective for next year, and affirmed once again that he will be more competitive than in 2009.

    "I have more to lose in 2010 than last season. Every muscle in my body that is focused on one goal: the Tour in 2010. For sure, I'll be better, " he said.

    When asked whether he thought he could win the race once again, four years after his retirement, he said, "It will be very difficult. I should be better than in 2009. I will be better. For sure.” But the main difficulty will be, once again, the competition. Former teammate Alberto Contador "will be very hard to beat. Like Andy Schleck. He is a very good rider, perhaps the best we ever saw.”

    Armstrong noted that the low point of the year was breaking his collarbone at the Castilla y Leon stage race in March. “A particularly hard time. No, a hard period. I was out for weeks, and the comeback was far more difficult I ever expected.” But he turned the corner at the Giro d'Italia. “I knew if I finished there, I could finish anywhere.”

    The season highlight, of course, was his relative success at the Tour, saying he was “happy with my third place at the Tour”, even if photos from the winners' ceremony in Paris seem to indicate otherwise. But at that point, Armstrong noted, he simply wanted to go home after a stressful three weeks.

    “It is no secret. It was a bizarre, unpleasant situation. I was empty inside. I knew then that we would leave Astana, that I had a great new partner in RadioShack and that we would take the guys and the staff with us."

    Another difficult situation for him involved a former teammate, George Hincapie, who rode for Columbia-HTC at the Tour. "The...

  • Wiggins targets Giro pink jersey

    Brad Wiggins (Garmin Slipstream) was contemplating a car-park stoush with teammate Chris Sutton over who should win the tour, he was only joking ofcourse.
    Article published:
    December 31, 2009, 13:05 GMT
    Gregor Brown

    Sky's new signing aims for Giro time trials on path to Tour de France

    Bradley Wiggins will return to next year's Giro d'Italia in May with the prologue and first leader's jersey as objectives . He will also help lead team Sky in the Italian three-week race while preparing for the Tour de France.

    "I will be there and not only to prepare for the Tour. The Giro is an important race," Wiggins told La Gazzetta dello Sport on Thursday. "I will aim for the prologue in Holland and the time trial in Verona."

    Wiggins finished fourth overall at this year's Tour de France, 6'01" behind winner Alberto Contador (Astana), after riding the Giro d'Italia for a fifth time in his career. He had lost weight to become a better climber and used his existing time trial strength to achieve the result.

    But Wiggins ruled out aiming for the general classification at the Giro d'Italia.

    "In 2010, with respect to this year, I will concentrate on two goals: to do well at the Giro and for the Tour's classification," Wiggins said. "A decision is required: look at [Carlos] Sastre, who also aimed for the Giro, then went badly at the Tour."

    The Giro d'Italia, taking place from May 8-30, starts in the Netherlands before travelling to the south of Italy. It ends with a mountainous final week in the Dolomites and Alps: the Zoncolan, Plan de Corones, Mortirolo and Gavia climbs will have to be tackled.

    Wiggins believes he will have a chance to win the 8.4-kilometre opening time trial in Amsterdam and the final 15.3 km race against the clock that finishes in Verona's Arena. He said that team Sky could also take the pink jersey in the 32.5-kilometre team time trial on the fourth day of racing in Cuneo.

    The Brit admitted the final week's climbs will be hard, but said he could also have a chance in the 12.9-kilometre Plan de Corones mountain time trail.

    "They are climbs that are adapted to riders like [Franco] Pellizotti, who I consider the favourite for the 2010 Giro. I can be a challenger...

  • Wrubleski returns to Webcor Builders

    Alex Wrubleski (Webcor) happy
    Article published:
    December 31, 2009, 14:01 GMT
    Kirsten Frattini

    Eight-rider team announced for coming season

    Canadian Alex Wrubleski will lead an eight-women roster under the Webcor Builders Professional Cycling Team banner in 2010. Wrubleski returns to the California-based squad following a season of ill-health while racing with Columbia-HTC last year.

    "We have a lot of Canadians next year," said team owner Karen Brems. "Alex went to High Road last year and had some health issues and it was hard for her to live in Europe. We spoke and it all kinda happened around the time of Las Vegas. We talked to her, we really like her and she's always liked
    our team. We're happy to have her back. It will be good for her to stay more North America. She will do some international racing with the [Canadian] National Team. She's a good rider."

    Wrubleski is a two-time Canadian National Road Champion and competed with Webcor Builders in 2008 before moving to Columbia-HTC in 2009. Her resume includes fourth places at both the Flèche Wallonne World Cup in Belgium and the Bern World Cup in Switzerland. Other notable results include a sixth place in the Drenthse World Cup in Holland along with two top ten finishes at the World Championships in 2007 and 2008.

    Wrubleski will join three additional Canadians including Olympians Gina Grain and Erinne Willock along with Pan American Champion Joelle Numainville. Former US National Road Champion and World Cup winner Katheryn Mattis will lead new recruits Austrian Andrea Graus from Team Bigla and young American talents Lindsay Myers and Ally Stacher.

    "I think it's a good group," Brems said. "Erinne and Katheryn are good climbers. The good thing about having multiple strong riders is that they can come on to fitness at different points during the season. Alex will be focused on the races where time bonuses are important like Redlands because she can climb but also sprint. Andrea is a really strong rider and a good back up where anything can happen in a race. Joelle has a really strong motor and we have Gina...

  • Basso extends with Liquigas through 2012

    Ivan Basso (Liquigas)
    Article published:
    December 31, 2009, 14:27 GMT
    Cycling News

    Tentative offer from Saxo Bank withdrawn

    Ivan Basso has extended his contract with Team Liquigas for another two years, after allegedly getting an offer from his former Team Saxo Bank.

    According to the Gazzetta dello Sport, Basso has extended with Liquigas through 2012, with an option for a third year. The Italian team signed him after he returned from his two-year suspension.

    Basso had received an offer from Saxo Bank manager Bjarne Riis, the Italian newspaper said, although Riis had said he doubted Basso would ever ride for the team again. However, the team had to withdraw its offer due to a lack of sponsors and the subsequent financial difficulties.

    In 2007, Basso admitted that bags of blood found under the name “Birillo” during Operación Puerto belonged to him. However, he denied ever having used the blood, saying “It was only attempted doping.”

    Basso belonged to Riis' squad from 2004 to 2006 when it was called Team CSC. While with the Danish team, he finished second in the Tour de France (2005) and won the Giro d'Italia (2006).

    However, Basso was suspended by Saxo Bank the day before the 2006 Tour de France started, after being named a suspect in Operación Puerto. Team manager Bjarne Riis said at the time that it was unlikely that Basso would ever ride for the team again, and the contract terminated in October. Later that month, Basso was acquitted by the Italian National Olympic Committee (CONI) for a lack of evidence.

    Shortly thereafter, he signed with Discover Channel for the 2007 season, but the team suspended him in the spring when CONI reopened the case, and subsequently released him.

    After serving out his suspension, Basso joined Liquigas and finished third in his first race back, the 2008 Japan Cup. This season he won the Giro del Trentino and was fifth overall in the Giro d'Italia and fourth overall in the Vuelta a España.