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Second Edition Cycling News, Thursday, January 12, 2012

Date published:
January 12, 2012, 0:00 GMT
  • Rodriguez pleased with 2012 Vuelta a España route

    Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) in the red jersey.
    Article published:
    January 12, 2012, 2:57 GMT
    By:
    Cycling News

    Succession of summit finishes suit Spaniard

    As the route of the 2012 Vuelta a España was unveiled on Wednesday, the broadest smile in Pamplona’s Palacio de Congresos may well have belonged to Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha). With summit finishes littered throughout the three weeks and just 40km of individual time trialling, the former world number one recognised that he has a golden opportunity to add a grand tour to his palmares in 2012.

    “It's really amazing,” Rodriguez told reporters afterwards. “There are plenty of hard stages and I really like it.”

    While there are no fewer than seven official summit finishes on the route, Rodriguez is aware that he will have the chance to showcase his ability as a puncheur on several other occasions. Stage 12 to Mirador de Ezaro above La Coruña is not listed as a summit finish, but the peloton will tackle 28% slopes on the climb to the line.

    “The stage to Ezaro is just what I’m looking for, so I'll be aiming to win that day,” Rodriguez said.

    That stage comes the day after the race’s sole individual time trial, traditionally a glaringly exposed Achilles heel in Rodriguez’s armoury. On this occasion, however, the Catalan has a fighting chance of limiting his losses. “At least the time trial has a hill in it, because we all know time trials are usually pretty bad for me,” he admitted.

    The Vuelta’s penultimate weekend sees the race take in three consecutive summit finish in the northwest of the country, and Rodriguez expects the stages to Las Ancares, Lagos de Covadonga and Cuitu Negro to prove decisive.

    “I think those three stages in a row are going to be very hard, so we'll definitely have to go and check out Cuitu Negro,” said Rodriguez. “That's the stage where it'll all be decided.”

    In recent years, the outcome of the Vuelta has...

  • Bobridge out of Tour Down Under following time trial crash

    Jack Bobridge takes a corner
    Article published:
    January 12, 2012, 4:53 GMT
    By:
    Jane Aubrey

    Decision to be made regarding his replacement on Friday

    Jack Bobridge (GreenEdge) will not ride in the opening WordTour race of the 2012 season following a shocking crash during the Australian Time Trial Championship on Tuesday. A decision on his replacement will be made on Friday afternoon with the Cancer Council Classic being raced on Sunday ahead of the first stage of the Santos Tour Down Under on Tuesday.

    Bobridge suffered a large amount of grazing and bruising after a truck passed the 22-year-old within the first kilometre of last Tuesday's time trial, after the disturbed air from the vehicle forced him off his bike and onto the tarmac. Bobridge has since been cleared of a suspected wrist fracture.

    His remaining injuries make it difficult to grip the handle bars and brake and with a nervous peloton in the first race of the season, Bobridge starting the Tour Down Under has the potential to do damage to his Olympic preparations. The world record-holder in the individual pursuit is targeting a spot in Australia's team pursuit outfit, where he is a member of the current world champion team.

    Two options for his replacement are compatriots former Tour de France green jersey winner Baden Cooke and two-time winner of the Tour Down Under, Allan Davis. The latter has started each of the previous 13 editions of the Australian event and missed out on a spot in GreenEdge's seven-man line up.


     

  • Gallery: RadioShack-Nissan-Trek hit the hills in Mallorca

    Will we see so many RadioShack riders on the front of the bunch come July?
    Article published:
    January 12, 2012, 6:31 GMT
    By:
    Cycling News

    Schlecks and Horner on 6 hour ride

    Come summer and the Spanish island of Mallorca will be awash with drunken English tourists, beer-bellied football fans and disco fever. Yet right now, at the start of the year, it’s a different kind of tourist altogether that enjoys what really is a beautiful island.

    Tucked away in various hotels, cubby-holed resorts and out-of-season apartments are the elite of professional cycling as they prepare for the year ahead. Team Sky in one corner, to the south Katusha and towards the hills, RadioShack-Nissan-Trek are all quietly putting their touches to their final camp of the off-season.

    Andy Schleck, Chris Horner and Andreas Kloden are among those from within the Luxembourg team familiar with the island’s rolling and in some cases, severely testing parcours and they made the most of their quiet surroundings by training for six-hours on Tuesday.

    Away from the mountains of the Tour de France that beckon in July, the passionate cycling fans that line the roads and crackle of the race radio, this is perhaps where races are really won – on the lonely and taxing roads at team camp.


     

  • Aldag blasts UCI, McQuaid and pro cycling

    Rolf Aldag chats at the start.
    Article published:
    January 12, 2012, 9:41 GMT
    By:
    Cycling News

    Former rider and team manager turns his back on the sport

    Rolf Aldag no longer wants to be deeply involved in cycling, saying that he has “no interest in working in a scenario that I don't like and where nothing changes." He also criticised the UCI and its president Pat McQuaid, particularly as to their stand on doping.

    Aldag rode professionally from 1991 to 2005, spending most of his career at Team Telekom. He then joined the team's management, ending his cycling-related career in 2011 as manager of HTC-Highroad.

    Most recently he felt himself “trapped” in a “special environment” in which the UCI makes its decisions considering nothing but its own interest “without a hint of democracy,” he told the Süddeutsche Zeitung. According to Aldag, the UCI follows its own economic interest without seriously tackling doping problems. “In every area, things are stretched out until it is to their advantage. Regardless of whether it is ethically responsible,” he said.

    Aldag called UCI president Pat McQuaid “extremely unbelievable.” McQuaid should not have told journalists that the UCI had never received financial donations from athletes, “and then a few days later say, oh it was just 100,000 dollars one time, and then another 25,000. One must actually say:  McQuaid did not tell the truth – and he in that position (as UCI President, ed.). Therefore he should go.”

    “He also said at first that there was no Contador case – now we have been working on it for two years. There were enough other cases, where the UCI could have made a point. Such things make McQuaid extremely unbelievable.”

    It must be noted that the Amstrong donations were made to the UCI before McQuaid was president. In addition, the UCI in 2010 showed Cyclingnews the receipts for the donation, which show that the money was used for anti-doping, and also made it clear that it would not accept donations in...

  • Giro d'Italia "a possibility" for Fränk Schleck, says Bruyneel

    Johan Bruyneel will attempt to work the oracle with Andy Schleck in 2012.
    Article published:
    January 12, 2012, 10:19 GMT
    By:
    Daniel Benson

    RadioShack-Nissan manager weighing up options for 2012

    One might say that Johan Bruyneel is spoilt for choice when it comes to selecting his team leaders for the 2012 grand tours at RadioShack-Nissan. Certainly in Fränk and Andy Schleck, Andreas Klöden, Chris Horner and to a certain extent, Jakob Fuglsang, he has a glut of athletes who have proved they can mix it with the best over three weeks.

    Yet the Belgian remains somewhat coy on his leaders for both the Tour de France and Giro d’Italia, rolling out the clichés of how the road will decide the strongest and how nothing is set in stone.

    While some of that is certainly true, part of the problem may also lie in the fact that he doesn’t know his best line-up yet either. Certainly Andy Schleck is the most threatening, and is the only rider who troubled Alberto Contador when the Spaniard was mildly off-form in 2010. Yet in Klöden he has a rider who, although approaching the end of his career, has a Tour route that suits his capabilities, while Horner too can climb with the best on his day.

    Bruyneel’s dilemma revolves around how to deploy both Andy and Fränk Schleck. Criticism from the media in recent years is based around the perception that each can be distracted by the other’s presence during a race’s key split-second moments, failing to seize individual initiative with tentative glances back once they attack. They say they thrive on each other’s company but their duality of leadership may obstruct them from yellow.

    One option that Bruyneel refused to discount during the team’s presentation last week could involve both Schlecks arriving at the Tour de France but at different levels of form, opening up the possibility of Fränk targeting the Giro d’Italia straight after the Ardennes...

  • Cobo to ride Tour and Vuelta in 2012

    Jose Cobo
    Article published:
    January 12, 2012, 10:59 GMT
    By:
    Cycling News

    Spaniard believes Asturias stages will decide Vuelta

    Juan José Cobo (Movistar) will return to defend his title at the 2012 Vuelta a España, but he has admitted that his primary aim for the coming season will be the Tour de France.

    The Spaniard signed for Movistar at the turn of the year following the demise of Geox-TMC, and he will be co-leader of his new team at the Tour alongside the controversial Alejandro Valverde. Cobo explained that he will have a low-key opening to his season so as to reach July in top condition, and will also aim to keep something in reserve for the Vuelta.

    “My principal objective this year will be the Tour de France,” Cobo told AS. “I will have a rather ‘light’ start to the season so that I can start the French race at the top of my form. I want to do my best, and do all that I can in the Tour. Then I will take part in the Vuelta and we’ll see how I feel. I hope to mount an decent defence of my title.”

    Cobo was a surprise winner of the 2011 Vuelta after entering the race under the leadership of Denis Menchov. Not surprisingly, the 30-year-old is confident that he can dovetail his efforts with those of Valverde this season.

    “It takes the pressure off riding alongside a great rider like Alejandro,” he said. “The road will decide which one of us can fight for the general classification. I’ll just try to reach 100% in the Tour and the Vuelta.”

    With its string of searing summit finishes, this year’s Vuelta will be a tough proposition for any riders coming into the race already fatigued from their exertions at the Tour de France. Like many at...

  • 2012 will be final curtain for Freire

    Spaniard Oscar Freire in the 2012 Katusha kit
    Article published:
    January 12, 2012, 12:06 GMT
    By:
    Cycling News

    Spaniard confirms retirement plans

    Oscar Freire (Katusha) has confirmed that 2012 will be his final season as a professional rider. The Spaniard had previously hinted that he would bring the curtain down on his career last year, but ultimately opted to stay in the peloton and swapped Rabobank for Katusha during the off-season.

    “This time, it will be my final professional season,” Freire told Velochrono. “I really thought for some time that I would stop after the 2011 season but in the end I changed my mind.”

    The reason for Freire’s change of heart was a simple one – a year shy of the London 2012 Olympics, the Spaniard was unable to resist the possibility of finishing on a high by adding one final title to a glittering palmares, which already includes three rainbow jerseys.

    “It was simply because 2012 is an Olympic year and I hope to be able to shine in London. Beyond that, I didn’t really want to end my career on a bad note, and my 2011 season didn’t really give me a lot of satisfaction. So I’m hoping to end my career in 2012 with a good sense of accomplishment.”

    On paper, the London 2012 circuit appears well-tailored to the sprinters, although the combination of its 250km length and five-man teams might yet preclude a bunch finish.

    “I haven’t analysed the circuit closely yet, but I’ve heard it said that it might suit me,” Freire said. “It’s going to be a very special race because it’s all on the day, and there’s a maximum of only five riders per country. It won’t be too easy to control the race.”

    Outside of the Olympic Games,...

  • Garzelli turns attention to Tirreno-Adriatico

    Stefano Garzelli (Acqua & Sapone - Caffe' Mokambo)
    Article published:
    January 12, 2012, 13:40 GMT
    By:
    Cycling News

    Italian veteran to carry on in spite of Giro setback

    In spite of his disappointment at his Acqua & Sapone team’s failure to land a wildcard invitation to the 2012 Giro d’Italia, Stefano Garzelli is to continue with his career and is now focused on landing Tirreno-Adriatico for the second time.

    The 38-year-old Italian had initially planned to bring the curtain down on his career at the Giro, and claimed that he was considering immediate retirement when he learned that Acqua & Sapone would not be at this year’s corsa rosa.

    “It’s not a mystery, I’d decided to tackle my last Giro d’Italia and I would have done so with the focus and commitment that has always characterised my preparation,” Garzelli said in a statement released by his team. “The news that we weren’t going to be invited to the Giro obviously upset my plans.”

    Following consultation with his family, however, Garzelli has opted to carry on, with March’s Tirreno-Adriatico uppermost in his thoughts.

    “If I race, it’s because I’m convinced that I can do well, that I can fight and put on a show,” he said. “I certainly won’t go to races just to ride around. These thoughts and my wife’s support will help me to speed up my preparation and aim to do well in races that come up before the Giro, starting with Tirreno-Adriatico.”

    Garzelli won Tirreno-Adriatico in 2010 in a reversal of the previous year’s defeat to Michele Scarponi. Garzelli credited riding the Tour Méditerranéen for his fine early-season form two years ago, and he aims to ride the French race again this February.

    “When I won Tirreno-Adriatico, I’d ridden the...