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Second Edition Cycling News, Thursday, February 17, 2011

Date published:
February 17, 2011, 0:00 GMT
  • Gent-Wevelgem, Nokere Koerse announce teams for March races

    Bernhard Eisel (HTC-Columbia) on his way to winning Gent-Wevelgem ahead of surprise second Sep Vanmarcke (Topsport Vlaanderen)
    Article published:
    February 17, 2011, 11:23 GMT
    By:
    Cycling News

    Full ProTeam line-up at Gent-Wevelgem

    Gent-Wevelgem and the Nokere Koerse have announced the first teams that will ride their races in March. Gent-Wevelgem will feature all 18 ProTeams and seven Professional Continental teams, while the Nokere Koerse will feature six ProTeams and 10 Professional Continental teams.

    Gent-Wevelgem takes place on March 27 and the 18 ProTeams will be joined by Cofidis, FDJ, Europcar, Skil-Shimano, Landbouwkrediet, Topsport Vlaanderen, and Verandas Willems.

    Before that comes the Nokere Koerse on March 16. The six ProTeams in action are Quick Step, Rabobank, Vacansoleil-DCM, Katusha, HTC-Highroad and Omega Pharma-Lotto, and they will be joined by 10 Professional Continental squads.

    “The 66th Nokere Koerse will have an unprecedented field of riders,” organiser Marc Van Cauwenberghe told the Belga news agency. “For the first time in our history, the quality is so high.

    “Our 66th edition looks already to be a memorable event, even though there is still one month to go.".

     

  • Bennett enjoying professional debut

    Sam Bennett (An Post-Sean Kelly) is one of Irish cycling's top prospects.
    Article published:
    February 17, 2011, 12:35 GMT
    By:
    Barry Ryan

    Irish rider returns from knee injury

    Sam Bennett (An Post-Sean Kelly) is enjoying a baptism of fire in the professional ranks. Last week’s Tour of Qatar was not only the young Irishman’s first race as a pro, it also marked his return to racing after a seven-month lay-off with a knee injury. Bennett is currently in action at the Tour of Oman.

    “Not only am I trying to come back after seven months, but I’m trying to step up a level on top of that, so it is hard,” Bennett told Cyclingnews. “I’m a bit disappointed I can’t really do anything on any of the stages. I’m having a cut here and there alright, but it’s hard to do anything.”

    At just 20 years of age, Bennett is one of the youngest riders in action in the Gulf and he admitted that the step-up in level has been an eye-opening experience.

    “I never experienced anything like this, the mixture of the level of the riders and the wind and the roads,” Bennett said. “You can see how experienced lads are in the field. They have so much power, you can tell they’re at it for years, they’re just hardened pros.

    “They just know what they’re doing. Everything is so cool. In an amateur race, it’s panic and chaos. Here, it’s more ‘this is what’s happening, and here’s how we counteract it.’”

    Bennett has been observing some of those hardened pros at close quarters in Qatar and Oman, and two men stand out in particular. Having spent the best part of the last decade watching Tom Boonen and Fabian Cancellara’s exploits on television, Bennett is relishing the opportunity to rub shoulders with them.

    “You look at them on TV and you...

  • Contador: It’s a great step forwards for the sport

    Alberto Contador awaits the start of the Volta ao Algarve.
    Article published:
    February 17, 2011, 13:06 GMT
    By:
    Peter Cossins

    Rules on doping need to be rethought says Spaniard

    Alberto Contador (Saxo Bank) has suggested that the regulations on doping need to be revised in order to bring them into line with recent advances in testing technology. Speaking to AS following the Spanish federation’s judgment that his one-year ban for doping should be overturned, Contador described the decision as “a great step forwards for our sport”.

    Contador was responding to a question about comments made by Tom Boonen that suggested that it had been an injustice that the Spaniard’s ban had not been confirmed. “I don’t know if he said that, but what he should do is look at this from another perspective: the decision to absolve me is a great step forwards for our sport. I have managed to prevent an injustice being committed, and institutions ought to take this as a starting point to prevent other injustices taking place. My case will turn out to be very important for cycling.”

    Asked to clarify his point, Contador added: “There needs to be a change to the anti-doping norms. Technology has advanced considerably, but the rules haven’t advanced with it. The rules ought to complement the technology, and I think that they have to revise some of them in the short term.”

    Pressed for his opinion on widespread criticism of his absolution and particularly suggestions that he had received favourable treatment from his own federation, Contador replied: “It’s in no way a nationalist or patriotic resolution simply because I’ve been absolved by the competitions committee of the Spanish federation. This has been a juridical and scientific process and on the basis of the data that
    is available on the internet they...

  • Androni Giocattoli awaiting Giro d'Italia invitation

    Jose Serpa (Androni Giocattoli) will be hoping to deliver a knock-out blow at the Giro d'Italia.
    Article published:
    February 17, 2011, 13:59 GMT
    By:
    Barry Ryan

    South American flavour to Savio's team

    Androni Giocattoli are still awaiting confirmation of a wildcard invitation to the 2011 Giro d’Italia. Gianni Savio’s men finished top of the 2010 Coppa Italia standings, which in theory won them a Giro berth, although the final list of wildcards is dependant on the teams in question meeting certain criteria.

    “Ours is a team built for the Giro d’Italia,” Savio told Gazzetta dello Sport. “We’re awaiting the official invitation from the organisers with calm, because we know that the agreement made between the Italian cycling federation and RCS Sport to invite the 2010 Coppa Italia winner to the race required that three conditions be met: registration in Italy, adherence to the biological passport and a line-up that hadn’t been weakened from the previous year. And ours has been strengthened.”

    Savio was speaking at the presentation of the 2011 Androni Giocattoli squad, which took place in Arona on Wednesday. Although he lost Giro podium finisher Michele Scarponi to Lampre-ISD, Savio maintains that he has found an adequate replacement in Jose Rujano. The mercurial Venezuelan rejoins the team where he enjoyed his greatest success in 2005, when he finished third overall at the Giro.

    “We rebuilt the team after Scarponi’s departure,” Savio said. “I maintain that it’s a stronger and more compact unit this time around.”

    Androni Giocattoli riders have already been to the podium this season. As ever, Savio’s charges were to the fore at the Tour de Langkawi, with Yonathan Monsalve taking overall victory, while sprinter Roberto Ferrari captured two stage wins at the Tour de San Luis in Argentina.

    ...
  • Le Mevel to defend title with fractured wrist

    Christophe Le Mevel (Team Garmin-Cervelo) signed from FDJ
    Article published:
    February 17, 2011, 14:49 GMT
    By:
    Cycling News

    Garmin-Cervélo rider still expected in Tour du Haut-Var

    Christophe Le Mevel, who had to abandon the Tour Méditerranéen on stage three due to a crash, has been diagnosed with a wrist fracture. After undergoing x-rays in the hospital at Nice, the Frenchman discovered that he broke the trapezoid bone of his right wrist in the fall.

    Le Mevel, who won the Tour du Haut-Var in 2010, will nevertheless be at the start of the two-day event on the Côte d'Azur this Saturday. Wearing a splint, the medical staff of his Garmin-Cervélo team has given him the green light to defend his title.

    Le Mevel finished 10th overall in the 2009 Tour de France and has his first great season objective at the Giro d'Italia this year.

    The 43rd edition of the Tour du Haut-Var begins on Saturday, February 19, with a loop from La Croix Valmer to Grimaud (close to Saint Tropez). Stage 2 on Sunday takes the peloton around the hinterland of Draguignan.

    Participating teams are AG2R La Mondiale, Saxo Bank Sungard, Euskaltel - Euskadi, Team Garmin - Cervélo, Bretagne Schuller, Cofidis, FDJ, Team Europcar, Saur - Sojasun, Team Type 1, Team Netapp, Skil-Shimano, Auber 93, Endura Racing, Roubaix Lille Métropole, Vélo-Club La Pomme Marseille, Veranda's Willems - Accent and Movistar.

  • Gilbert's victory in Tour of the Algarve planned by team

    Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma - Lotto) is the first leader of the 2011 Volta ao Algarve.
    Article published:
    February 17, 2011, 16:46 GMT
    By:
    Cycling News

    Omega Pharma-Lotto with two of the top places on the day

    Omega Pharma-Lotto returned to early season victory at the Tour of the Algarve on Wednesday when Classics specialist Philippe Gilbert launched a late attack to win a stage expected to go to the sprinters. But as teammate and star sprinter Andre Greipel explained, the outcome had been planned earlier by the team.

    “Already this morning in our team meeting, we had made the plan that Phil would attack in the finale 1000 metres, since the finish was on a small climb,” Greipel said on his personal website.

    Gilbert took the field by surprise with his attack and easily won with a five-second gap.

    The Belgian team lost out on a possible one-two finish when Gerald Ciolek (Quick Step) attacked with 400 metres to go to take the sprint of the field, leaving Greipel with third place.

    Greipel and the other sprinters should have their next chance in Thursday's second stage, which runs 186.5km from Lagoa to Lagos – if Gilbert doesn't take off again at the end.

    In 2010 Griepel, then riding for HTC-Columbia, won the race's second stage, which also ended in Lagos, to take over the leader's jersey for one day.

    It was by far the earliest win for the team since 2008. Last year Gilbert brought in the first season victory, but not until Amstel Gold Race on April 18. In 2009, it was Cadel Evans winning a stage at the Settimana Coppi e Bartali on March 28.

  • Messick calls for new generation to fill the Armstrong void

    Amgen Tour of California organiser Andrew Messick points to two-time 2010 stage winner Peter Sagan as one of the sport's young stars.
    Article published:
    February 17, 2011, 19:24 GMT
    By:
    Daniel Benson

    Amgen Tour of California organiser expects young pros to make an impact

    Amgen Tour of California organiser Andrew Messick called on the new, younger generation of professional cyclists to step into the limelight after Lance Armstrong announced his retirement from the sport.

    The 39-year-old Armstrong announced his second retirement - he previously quit in 2005 only to return in 2008 - yesterday to AP, meaning his last professional race appearance was the Santos Tour Down Under. It had been expected that he would ride both the Amgen Tour of California and Colorado's Quiznos Pro Challenge later in the year.

    "I think that for a number of years we've never relied on one single individual and over the last few years there have been a number of charismatic guys who are extraordinarily relevant because of the Tour de France, world championships or Olympic Games and we expect to continue that," Messick told Cyclingnews.

    "In addition, this year we'll be in a position to showcase an emerging generation of talent like Peter Sagan, Taylor Phinney, Tejay Van Garderen and a number of guys who really represent the future of the sport. They're guys who are young and who are really starting to have an impact on the sport of cycling.

    "We'll be showcasing the next generation with all their ambitions to do well and to win and it will be interesting to see if this is the year that the torch is passed from the Armstrong, Levi Leipheimer and George Hincapie generation to the Phinney, Sagan, and Porte generation."

    It's all about the...

  • Bennati frustrated by yet another placing

    Daniele Bennati (Leopard Trek) is fully color co-ordinated.
    Article published:
    February 17, 2011, 20:44 GMT
    By:
    Stephen Farrand

    Italian sprinter still looking for Leopard Trek's first win

    Daniele Bennati (Leopard Trek) could hardly believe that he had been beaten yet again in the sprint.

    He has now racked up four second places, two thirds and a fourth in nine days of racing at the Tour of Qatar and the Tour of Oman. He is consistently well positioned after excellent support work from his teammates, but someone has always had that extra edge of speed before the line and snatches away victory.

    "Second again," he said with a mix of laughing and disbelief after finishing runner-up to Theo Bos in stage three at the Tour of Oman. "The name of the winner keeps changing but I keep missing out. It's incredible.

    "All I can hope is that it means I'm destined to win a big, big race later in the season. I hope so. My form is good, and I'm always up there in the sprint but it just hasn't happened yet."

    Bennati was well placed on Bos's wheel and survived the switching and fighting for position. He admitted he didn't have the sprinting speed to match the former track world champion.

    "Brown launched the sprint for Bos and I was on his wheel but I couldn't get past him," he said. "Unfortunately every sprinter was up for this stage and they all had got their teams working for them."

    Still no win for the new super team

    Bennati's Leopard Trek team was described as the new super squad of the peloton after creating the world's number one ranked team from scratch. Surprisingly the team has yet to win a race this season despite all the hype about the quality of their roster.

    Here in Oman, Bennati has the support of Fabian Cancellara, Stuart O'Grady, Maxime Monfort, Joost Posthuma, Wouter Weylandt, Jakob Fuglsang and Davide...