A close-up look at the Australian's purpose-built ride
Australian's 2015 Tinkoff-Saxo team bike
Winner of the 2015 Tour Down Under
New and old kicks and lids seen at WorldTour race
French rider sanctioned for violating whereabouts rules
FDJ-Big Mat's Yoann Offredo has been banned from cycling for one year by the French Cycling Federation and will miss the remainder of the 2012 season after the ban was not set retrospectively. The 25-year-old violated the whereabouts rules three times in an 18-month period, which carries with it an automatic ban.
Offredo's sanction could have been worse, with the maximum penalty standing at two years, but it could have been set retrospectively - which would have meant him losing last seasons results but enabling him to compete this year - and wasn't.
"It's not a lesson, because he is stunned," said FDJ sports director Martial Gayant. "He screams injustice and he is right, I support it. It is a settlement but it must be the same for everyone. He is disgusted, dejected, in tears and full of pain."
Offredo has a right to appeal against the ban and an announcement on his intentions in this matter is likely to come over the next few days.
Dutchman set to defend Omloop Het Nieuwsblad title
This Saturday sees the traditional curtain raiser of the Belgian road cycling season at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and the excitement in Flanders is building nicely. Defending champion Sebastian Langeveld will be on the start line in the colours of his new team, GreenEdge, though after an incident packed couple of weeks on the Arabian peninsula at the Tour of Qatar and the Tour of Oman he is playing down his chances of retaining his title in the famous one-day race.
The 27-year-old Dutchman suffered crashes in both Qatar and Oman and admits that his first few weeks with GreenEdge, who he joined in the off-season after five years with Rabobank, haven't gone as smoothly as he hoped. But with the Classics season just around the corner he is hoping for an upturn in fortunes. Whether that comes immediately this weekend, however, remains to be seen.
"I have some days racing under my belt, but they did not go smoothly," he told nieuwsblad.be. "I had a fall in the penultimate stage of the Tour of Qatar, which gave me some back pain. I thought I'd be ok as there was three days until the Tour of Oman. Then I got stomach flu. And in Oman, I suffered another crash. Without these setbacks I was convinced that I would be involved in the finale on Saturday [at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad]. I may still be, but there is a question mark."
Langeveld remains convinced that his move to GreenEdge will bring him even greater opportunities to shine this season, particularly in the Classics.
"They [GreenEdge] know who I am and what I can do," he said. "Otherwise they would never have pursued me. I have some very good years behind me with Rabobank, but now at GreenEdge I'll be very protected in...
Strong field set to line-up ITT opener
A polite crowd cheered the 132 riders set to take on the Le Tour de Langkawi in Malaysia at the race's team presentation on the eve of the 2012 event.
Under police escort, the race caravan left the event hotel base with the riders being dropped around five kilometres from the presentation area and the public had the opportunity to join the pro peloton. Once on stage, it was the Asian teams who had the crowd's attention, with Garmin-Barracuda also quite popular.
The 10-stage race, in oppressive humidity, is notable this season not only for the first outing of the sometime-retired Alexandre Vinokourov (Astana) who returns to the event 15 years after his debut but also that of China's first ProContinental outfit Champion System. In another Asian first, Singapore's first continental team, OCBC Singapore also make their debut.
In total five former winners will be on the start line on Friday for the opening individual time trial, to be raced over 20.3 kilometres around the administrative capital of Putrajaya - Tom Danielson (2003), Fredy Gonzalez (2004), Anthony Charteau (2007), Jose Serpa (2009), Jose Rujano, (2010) and Jonathan Monsalve (2011).
Team Sky confirm change for Saturday's race
After it emerged yesterday that Edvald Boasson Hagen had pulled out of this Saturday's Omloop Het Nieuwsblad in Belgium due to a nasty cold, Team Sky has moved to confirm that his place on the start line will be taken by CJ Sutton. Boasson Hagen started to feel unwell after returning to his native Norway following the Tour of Algarve, where he performed well in winning stage two and the overall points classification.
“It’s unfortunate Edvald has picked up this bug because his form was really good in Portugal last week and he was looking forward to the race," Sky's Rod Ellingworth told the team's official website.
“There’s never an ideal time to pick up an illness like this, but he’ll be back for Tirreno-Adriatico [March 7-13] and a good week there should stand him in good stead for an important phase in his season. In CJ we have a ready-made replacement and he was with the team anyway ahead of Kurrne-Bruxelles-Kuurne on Sunday. He's looking fit and lean, and is motivated to ride well this weekend after taking the title in Kuurne last year.”
Donckers Koffie allows team to expand European program
Donckers Koffie will be the new title sponsor of the Marco Polo Cycling Team in 2012. Thanks to the new partnership with Donckers Koffie, the UCI Continental team - which is also the first Continental team ever to be based out of Ethiopia - following 10 years of success in China - will be able to race a full pro-level program in Europe, with additional races in Asia and Africa.
Rudi Donckers, owner of Donckers Koffie said he hoped the deal would be the start of a long partnership with Marco-Polo, and was particularly keen to see the young African riders in the team progress.
"We expect to make a large contribution to this development team and its African riders, and we hope to see the young guys develop as we visit the races throughout the year."
The 19-strong roster will consist of six Ethiopian riders that will join forces with an experienced core of pro riders including Matthé Pronk, Jan Kuyckx and Léon van Bon, who have all renewed their contracts with the team. New Zealand Olympic track medal candidates Marc Ryan (Team Pursuit) and Shane Archbold (Omnium) will also ride a selected part of the team’s programme in Europe to complement their Olympic build-up.
Team director Gilbert de Weerdt was excited to be taking on a more expansive program in Europe in 2012.
"We will race numerous 1.1, 1.2 and pro races, with a focus in Belgium and in The Netherlands. Between the one day races, we will also be targeting some important international stage races in Europe, Africa and Asia. The team will also be supporting the African guys at several Cyclosportive events this season with the aim of following on from our success in the Gran Fondo Eddy Merckx last year, where Solomon Shiferaw showcased his climbing prowess by winning in the Ardennes.
"I think this program and our team of incredibly talented athletes combined with the experienced ‘oldies’, will give a fantastic opportunity to...
Swede still recovering from fracture
Swedish champion Emma Johansson will not attempt a third consecutive victory in the women's Omloop Het Nieuwsblad on Saturday, opting instead to continue recovering from double clavicle fractures she sustained during training in January.
The 28-year-old was injured when she was struck by a car while training.
Johansson had a successful surgery to repair the breaks, but was forced to skip her Hitec Products-Mistral Home team camp in Gran Canaria earlier this month, choosing to stay in Norway to train indoors.
"The training camp with the team came a bit too early after my surgery and I decided to stay in Norway to build on my strength and do interval training. I didn’t want to risk anything," Johansson said in a press release.
Johansson, the silver medalist at the Beijing Olympic Games road race, won the Omloop in 2010 and 2011, both times in a sprint from a small breakaway. The race is the European opener for the women's international racing season.
"This is one of my favorite races. It goes through my home in Belgium and I know every bit of it… I wished to start Saturday, not only for myself, but also for my team Hitec Products – Mistral Home, my sponsors, my supporters and friends. But now I have to think about the rest of the season and I need the training blocks that I missed because of the accident."
The first World Cup, the Unive Ronde van Drenthe, takes place in two weeks on March 10, but Johansson would not state when she will begin her season, only that she would evaluate her condition and training progress.
Contador's disqualification puts Italian in fourth overall
The disqualification of Alberto Contador's 2011 and 2012 results after the Court of Arbitration for Sport decision this month has shuffled the top of IG's Pro Cycling Index. Philippe Gilbert remains atop the standings after a dominant 2011, Tour de France winner Cadel Evans (BMC) stays in second and Joaquim Rodriguez is still in third, new 2011 Giro d'Italia champion Michele Scarponi ascends to fourth.
Scarponi was also declared winner of the Volta a Catalunya after Contador's ban.
Other riders to benefit are World Champion Mark Cavendish, who moves into fifth place, and Jérôme Coppel, who is now the winner of the 2011 Vuelta Ciclista a Murcia, moving the Frenchman from 43rd to 57th in the index.
The rankings are calculated on an annual, rolling basis, meaning Tour Down Under winner Simon Gerrans dropped out of the top 20 after skipping the Tours of Oman and Qatar, while Lotto-Belisol's Andre Greipel, who won two stages in Oman and three at Tour Down Under, moves up to 17th.
Not yet in the top 200 are two riders, Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) and break-out rider Jonathan Tiernan-Locke (Endura Racing), who have scored important wins in the early season.
Valverde, returning from a two-year suspension, is only at 259th with a complete lack of 2011 points, while Tiernan-Locke put in impressive performances at the Tour of Britain, Tour de Mediterranean and Tour du Haut Var over the past year.
This week's highest mover was Australian Riche Porte who moved up 23 places to 113th after winning a stage and the overall of the Tour of the Algarve (Tier 3). Jakob Fuglsang still tops the rankings for both kilometres raced (16,063) and days raced (100).
The IG Markets Pro Cycling Index is based on points from 120 top international road races throughout the season. Races are tiered depending on history,...
BMC and Vacansoleil-DCM riders preview the cobbles
As the 2012 Belgian Classic season is about to commence with Saturday's Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, plenty of teams have been pre-riding the parcours and on Thursday members of BMC Racing Team and Vacansoleil-DCM spent several hours getting re-acquainted with slick cobbles and foggy, drizzly weather.
"For me, it is important to be here in Belgium, with the national champion's jersey," said Gilbert. "I will see how the race will go Saturday. It's not the most important race, but it is still a nice one. We have a strong team, it will be really helpful because the main thing here is to have many guys remaining in the group close to the finish and I think one of us can be close to the win."
Hushovd, the 2009 champion, will be making his eighth appearance in the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, but the first on the BMC Racing Team.
"It's the first big race together and we will really race for results so it will be nice to see the performance of each rider. For sure, we're a team strong enough to win. We just have to race well together and see how the race develops. Myself, I think my condition is getting better and better so it should not be too bad on the race."
For BMC directeur sportif John Lelangue, Thursday's pre-ride was an important opportunity to fine-tune the squad's preparation for race day.
"We did a good reconnaissance this morning of the last 85 kilometers of the race," said...