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Second Edition Cycling News, Thursday, January 6, 2011

Date published:
January 06, 2011, 0:00 GMT
  • Longo no longer frightened by retirement

    Jeannie Longo-Ciprelli (Rhône-Alpes) rides to victory.
    Article published:
    January 06, 2011, 6:52 GMT
    Cycling News

    Difficult winter saps Frenchwoman of motivation

    Fifty-two-year-old Frenchwoman Jeannie Longo has hinted that she is considering retirement. The multiple world champion is considering her future in the sport, saying her participation this season is only a "maybe" and that she is "a bit tired psychologically".

    "The season starts only in a few months, but at my age, a few months is a lot of time," Longo told French daily Le Parisien. The veteran admitted that much of her thinking came down to a "difficult winter" and she supposed her motivation could return in the spring.

    Having previously stated that her Olympic career is over following seven appearances, the veteran has confirmed that London is out of the question. "I don't have this in mind, absolutely not," Longo said.

    Longo is the most successful female cyclist in the history of the sport with over 1000 victories to her name including 38 world records and a total of 106 medals at the Olympic Games, the Worlds and the French Championships.

    Longo also explained that the thought of retirement in the past frightened her. "I can see other horizons," she said. "I can now accept things that seemed inconceivable to me, like for example skipping one day of training."

  • Team Leopard-Trek to be presented in Luxembourg

    The two sides of the Schlecks: Frank and Andy earlier in the year
    Article published:
    January 06, 2011, 7:25 GMT
    Cycling News

    Bike supplier moves up to name co-sponsor

    Team Leopard-Trek will be presented in Luxembourg today. Sources close to Cyclingnews have confirmed the name of the team built around Andy and Fränk Schleck and Fabian Cancellara.

    Cyclingnews reported in December that the team would be called Team Leopard. Bike supplier Trek had originally agreed to be just a second-tier sponsor alongside vehicle sponsor Mercedes and clothing sponsor Craft, but moved up to become co-sponsor.

    Team manager Brian Nygaard tried to keep the team name secret, refusing to say what it would be. Many sponsors had been mentioned as possibilities, but the team is going with the name of its management company and bike supplier.

    Trek, which also confirmed the team name to Cyclingnews, announced in September that it would supply bikes to the newly-formed team. It also supports Lance Armstrong's Team RadioShack. According to French newspaper L'Equipe, the American bike manufacturer has paid three million Euro to become second sponsor. L'Equipe claims that the team had hoped to secure Belgacom as a key sponsor but the Belgian telecommunications company decided not to come on board.

    Team Leopard-Trek will be presented to the media on Thursday afternoon, with a public presentation before an audience of 4,000 in the evening.

  • Sastre to begin 2011 season in Murcia

    Carlos Sastre
    Article published:
    January 06, 2011, 10:02 GMT
    Susan Wesetmeyer

    Geox to stay with Gianetti and hope for Tour de France wild card invitation

    Carlos Sastre will start his 2011 season in March at the Vuelta a Murcia and then continue with a largely Spanish race programme. The Geox-TMC rider is not sure whether he will ride the Giro d'Italia this year after the team failed to land a ProTeam licence.

    Meanwhile, the internal power struggle between the sponsors and team manager Mauro Gianetti seems to have been laid to rest and the team will try to secure wild card invitations to the Giro, Tour de France and Vuelta a Espana.

    Sastre won the Tour de France in 2008 and intends to follow a similar race programme for 2011. “I started with the Vuelta a Murcia, and I only did the Clasica de Almeria before that,” he said on his personal website. “Then I will ride the Volta a Catalunya and Castilla y Leon.”

    The Spaniard  finished third overall in the 2009 Giro d'Italia and eighth in 2010, despite a back injury. He has not yet decided whether he will ride the Giro for the third consecutive year.

    “That is something that is not yet decided. Among other things, we don't know if the team will be invited,” he noted. “It is true that I like it, but first we must know what we will be able to do and then it will be time to make the schedule.”

    Geox future secure

    The next Geox-TMC training camp is scheduled for January 8 to 15 in Vilasecca, Spain. The team presentation and the new jersey will be unveiled during the camp. Sastre and fellow team leader Denis Menchov will attend the Vuelta Espana route presentation in Alicante on January 12.

    The team, which has only a Professional Continental licence, has been in the headlines because of an apparent feud between sponsors Geox and team manager Mauro Gianetti. There have been widespread reports that Geox and TMC have tried to take direct control of the team by buying the licence and team infrastructure from Gianetti. They had reportedly gone as far...

  • Hansen happy to have followed Greipel to Omega Pharma-Lotto

    Adam Hansen (HTC-Columbia) wins the Ster Elektrotoer.
    Article published:
    January 06, 2011, 10:33 GMT
    Susan Westemeyer

    Australian looking forward to sprint duel with Cavendish and HTC

    Adam Hansen is eager to help Andre Greipel beat Mark Cavendish in 2011 after the Australian moved with Greipel from HTC to Omega Pharma-Lotto.

    “I have been working closely with Andre in the past year and a half. He asked me if I would like to continue working for him in a different team,” Hansen told Cyclingnews. “The idea alone sounded like a huge challenge and something totally different.”

    Hansen, Greipel and Cavendish had all been teammates at HTC-Columbia since 2007, with Greipel joining the team first, in 2006. The latter two have competed for the title of top sprinter in the peloton over the years, with the Briton usually getting the nod from Highroad management to ride the bigger races. Their rivalry turned into a verbal spat in 2010, with Greipel's non-selection for the Tour de France leading to him quitting the team.

    “Andre has always been in the shadow of Cav. So now Andre wants to have a go at the major races and see what he is able to do," said Hansen. "It sounded like a massive challenge for me because he's never raced against Cav and to want to go head to head with him is not easy for anyone. For sure he would need great support as the HTC team had perfected their leadouts for Cav."

    Hansen continued: “In a way I felt like I could not let a friend go out and do that alone and I'd like to be there and support his idea. Things are going to be different, but we will work together and do our best to give Andre what he needs to sprint at the biggest races and make sure he has every chance to win."

    The 29-year-old has prepared sprints for both riders, and he says “they are chalk and cheese sprinters. Very different with different strengths. It's going to be an exciting year. They are just too different and too close to each other.

    "We will be a step behind because of being a new team, and having never to sprint against such a strong train like HTC. But we...

  • Vacansoleil assured Tour de France place

    Thumbs up for Riccardo Riccò (Vacansoleil)
    Article published:
    January 06, 2011, 11:15 GMT
    Susan Westemeyer

    No decision on Ricco's participation in France

    The Vacansoleil team has been assured that it will ride this year's Tour de France after talks with race organizer ASO, but the team has yet to decided if Riccardo Riccò will be part of the nine-rider line-up for the race.

    “The uncertainty is finally gone,” team manger Daan Luijkx told Algemeen Dagblad. “According to the ASO, the 18 teams with a ProTeam licence will start the three Grand Tours. It is now one hundred percent sure that we can start. It is very nice that it happened. Now everything is already planned."

    It will be the Dutch team's first appearance at the Tour de France. Vacansoleil rode the Vuelta a España in 2009 but did not receive an invitation to the 2010 Tour de France, even though the race started in the Netherlands. After two years as a Professional Continental team, Vacansoleil has obtained ProTeam status for 2011.

    Decision on Riccò in May

    "We'll almost certainly have a team of adventurers in the team for the Tour, without a designated leader, Luijkx said. “That suits us best and gives me the best feeling.”

    Stijn Devolder and Björn Leukemans are expected to be on the Tour squad. Devolder, who rode for Team Quick Step the last three years and has ridden the Tour twice, abandoning in 2008 and finishing 82nd in 2009.

    A decision on whether Riccardo Riccò will ride the Tour has not yet been made. The Italian tested positive for EPO-CERA at the 2008 Tour.

    "He rides the Walloon classics and the Amstel Gold Race and then goes entirely for the final classification in the Giro. Whether he will also ride the Tour, we will see the end of May," Luijkx said.

    If he does ride the Tour, Riccò would aim for a stage wins and not for the overall standings. “That seems impossible,” Luijkx said.

  • Pellizotti case set to go to the Court of Arbitration

    Franco Pellizotti gets ready to ride
    Article published:
    January 06, 2011, 11:16 GMT
    Cycling News

    Italian tries to strike a deal over lost earnings

    Franco Pellizotti is threatening to sue the UCI for loss of earning and damages as his Biological Passport violation case looks set to go to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

    The Italian was stopped from riding the Giro d’Italia last May by the Liquigas-Domo team and has not raced since. He was cleared by the Italian Olympic Committee on October 21 and has reportedly reached a deal to ride with the Movistar team but the UCI has indicated it may appeal against the Italian verdict to CAS, which would further delay Pellizotti’s hopes of a making a comeback.

    According to Thursday’s Gazzetta dello Sport, Pellizotti has presented an initial request of 200,000 Euro for damages to cover his legal costs and the psychological damage he has suffered. Gazzetta suggests that figure could rise to 800,000 if Pellizotti is cleared of due to his loss of earnings during 2010.

    Gazzetta reports that Pellizotti’s lawyer Rocco Taminelli has offered to reduce the request for damages if the UCI decides not to appeal to the CAS. However UCI spokesman Enrico Carpani hinted that no deal would be done as the UCI looks to defend the validity of the Biological Passport.

    The UCI has until January 13 to decide whether to appeal to the CAS. Carpani refuted suggestions by Gianni Bugno, the head of the International Rider’s Association, that the UCI has put pressure on teams not to sign Pellizotti.

    “Contrary to what some people want to believe, the Pellizotti case is still open. The UCI will decide in the next few days if to appeal to CAS. No decision has been made yet but understandably the idea is to go ahead with the case,” Carpani told Gazzetta dello Sport. 

    “If in the meantime if Pellizotti hasn’t got a team, it’s not because of the UCI, who hasn’t even suspended him as under the Biological Passport rules. If Liquigas did not renew his...

  • Economic crisis hits Tour of Murcia

    The Murcia peloton on stage five
    Article published:
    January 06, 2011, 12:33 GMT
    Peter Cossins

    Spanish stage race likely to be trimmed from five days to three

    The effects of the global economic crisis that have impacted on Spain much more than most other countries are reported to have forced the organizers of the Tour of Murcia to reduce the length of their race from five days to three. The popular early-season event is due to take place between March 2-6, but, according to the Spanish website Biciciclismo, this year’s event will now take place between March 4-6.

    No details have been released about the three stages, but Biciciclismo suggests that the organizers are considering a format along the lines of the Criterium International. Consequently, the race is likely to comprise a flat stage, a mountain finish and a time trial, which will measure around 20km and take place in the city of Murcia.

    The race has already confirmed the participation of 11 teams, including the Movistar, Euskaltel, Rabobank and Vacansoleil ProTeams. Geox, United Healthcare, Skil-Shimano and Endura Racing are among the other seven teams also confirmed for the event.

    The news comes on a day when another Spanish stage race that has faced difficult times in recent years celebrates its 100th anniversary. On January 6, 1911, 34 riders lined up for the first stage of the Volta a Catalunya between Barcelona’s Plaza de Sarrià and the town of Tarragona. The stage was won by Tarragona rider Sebastián Masdeu, who went on to take the overall title after three days of racing.

    The Volta is the third oldest stage race in the world having been established eight years after the Tour de France and just two years after the Giro d’Italia. This year’s race takes place between March 21-27, and is set to feature a summit finish at the Andorran resort of Pal, where Igor Antón won a stage of last season’s Vuelta a España.

  • OptumHealth co-sponsors Kelly Benefit Strategies in 2011

    The 2011 kit for Kelly Benefit Strategies-OptumHealth
    Article published:
    January 06, 2011, 12:46 GMT
    Kirsten Frattini

    Health and wellness company looks to expand awareness

    US-based Continental Kelly Benefit Strategies announced the addition of OptumHealth as a co-title sponsor in 2011. The newly named Kelly Benefit Strategies-OptumHealth Pro Cycling will unite at a meet-and-great camp this week in Winter Park, Colorado.

    “We are unabashedly proud, vocal proponents of active, healthy lifestyles,” said Tom McEnery, chief marketing officer for OptumHealth. “As co-sponsor of one of the country’s top cycling teams, we can create greater visibility and awareness about the importance of fitness, health and well-being.”

    “Professional cycling in the United States continues to grow as a major spectator sport and serves as a great way to reach health-conscious consumers,” he added. “This particular partnership provides a highly visible and mission-consistent opportunity to both advance our message and drive awareness of our products and services.”

    OptumHealth is one of the nation’s largest health and wellness business and is a UnitedHealth Group company, according to a team press release. The team’s stake holders, including representatives from OptumHealth, united at an inaugural sponsor summit held at corporate headquarters in Hunt Valley, Maryland, following last year’s season. The event allowed sponsors to discuss how to best plan for the up coming season and strategize long term goals.

    “We like to think of ourselves as more than just a cycling team, our sponsors are more like partners with us,” said Charles Aaron from the team’s management company, Circuit Global Sports Management. “We all share a common interest and goal and we wanted to bring them together to brainstorm ways to help them get the most out of their strategic sports sponsorship.”

    “We introduced the upper management of our new co-title sponsor,” Aaron said. “This was our first year pulling everyone together from...