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Second Edition Cycling News, Thursday, June 21, 2012

Date published:
June 21, 2012, 1:00 BST
  • Boonen takes aim at Belgian title on home roads

    Tom Boonen (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) took second in the day's sprint finish.
    Article published:
    June 21, 2012, 11:39 BST
    Cycling News

    Geel course more complicated than it seems

    Tom Boonen is chasing his second Belgian national road race title in Geel on Sunday and the Omega Pharma-QuickStep rider approaches the event with special motivation. For the first time in his career, the race takes place on roads close to his home in Mol.

    “It’s the first time that I’ll race a Belgian championship near my home,” Boonen explained to Sporza. “While I’m out training, everybody is encouraging me, even more than for the Tour of Flanders.”

    After a remarkable run of spring form that saw him capture E3 Harelbeke, Gent-Wevelgem, the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix, Boonen has opted to build his summer around the London 2012 Olympics. To that end, he will forgo the Tour de France, but he stressed that the Belgian championship was more than a mere signpost along his path to London.

    “I’ve really made a goal of the Belgian championship,” he said. “People might say, ‘it’s just a Belgian title,’ but I think it’s a very nice prize. I’ve done all I can to be good for it. I’ve been training hard in the last few weeks.”

    As April’s Scheldeprijs demonstrates, the hinterland of Antwerp is devoid of the kind of hellingen that are found in west Flanders, but in spite of the flatness of the parcours, Boonen believes the 14.9km circuit is not without its own difficulties.

    “It’s not an easy course,” he insisted. “There are a lot of twists and turns in some parts and the wind will play a role. I don’t expect a big group to ride to the finish. Afterwards, nobody will be able to say that it was an easy championship.”

    After rediscovering his...

  • Westra, Van Dijk claim Dutch time trial titles

    A smiling Lieuwe Westra with his gold medal
    Article published:
    June 21, 2012, 13:01 BST
    Cycling News

    Both champions also headed to 2012 London Olympics

    Lieuwe Westra of Vacansoleil-DCM and Elinor Van Dijk (Specialized-Lululemon) sped their way to the Netherlands national time trial championships on Wednesday in Emden.  Westra called it the “reward” for many years' work and is now looking forward to doing equally well in the Tour de France and 2012 London Olympics.

    He has worked towards this goal for many years, and “this is the reward.  This title means more to me than the road title,” he told De Telegraaf. 

    “This is my discipline and it is overwhelming to be Dutch champion.  Every year the red, white and blue was my goal and now it has finally worked out.”

    National coach Leo van Vliet was pleased and also looking forward to London.  “I chose Lieuwe early to give him reassurance for his participation in the Olympic time trial, and it is nice that he returns that trust. I hope he can do a strong race against the clock in London, it is a good course for him.  But he may also be of value in the road race, for example, by going in an early attack.”

    Lars Boom of Rabobank was second and Omega Pharma-QuickStep's Niki Terpstra third.

    Van Dijk credits altitude training

    Van Dijk was glad to have the race as a final test before the Olympics, where she will ride not only the time tria and road race but also the team pursuit.  “I just had three weeks of altitude training in the Sierra Nevada and that has been shown to have a good effect on my form. That's good because I'm leaving again for the same period to the same location to get ready for the Olympic games.”

    Annemiek Vleuten and Iris Slappendel, both of the Rabobank womens' team, were...

  • Wiggins and Cavendish lead Sky at the Tour de France

    Article published:
    June 21, 2012, 14:00 BST
    Cycling News

    Line-up built around yellow jersey bid

    Bradley Wiggins leads a Team Sky selection based primarily around his yellow jersey challenge at this year’s Tour de France. While world champion Mark Cavendish also features, Sky’s nine-man line-up features no fewer than six of the riders who flanked Wiggins during his victorious ride at the recent Critérium du Dauphiné.

    Edvald Boasson Hagen, Chris Froome, Richie Porte, Michael Rogers, Christian Knees and Kanstantin Siutsou were all part of Sky’s dominant showing in the Alps and will be charged with repeating the feat in July.

    The only member of the Dauphiné squad to miss out is Danny Pate, as the other two slots in Sky’s Tour line-up are filled by Cavendish and Bernhard Eisel.

    While the team selection is a clear indication of where Sky’s priorities lie in July, Team Principal Dave Brailsford is confident that the squad can also support Cavendish in the sprints.

    “Our priority this year is the general classification with Bradley but that doesn’t mean we’ll neglect the sprint stages, or Mark’s bid for green jersey,” he said on the team website. “Chris, Mick, and Richie are among our strongest climbers and will all be there to support Bradley in the mountains, but then we’ve got riders like Christian and Kosta who have strong engines on the flats, and versatile riders like Edvald and Bernhard who can support Mark in the sprints.”

    After victories at Paris-Nice, the Tour de Romandie and the Critérium du Dauphiné already in 2012, Wiggins lines up as favourite for overall victory at the Tour and he approaches the race with greater confidence than in the past.

    “I’ve been waiting for this moment for a...

  • Cancellara happy with progress after Swiss TT win

    Fabian Cancellara (RadioShack-Nissan)
    Article published:
    June 21, 2012, 15:04 BST
    Cycling News

    RadioShack-Nissan rider builds towards London 2012

    Fabian Cancellara tuned up for the Tour de France and the London 2012 Olympics by taking his first victory since March in the Swiss time trial championship in Messen on Wednesday.

    The RadioShack-Nissan rider has been feeling his way back into competitive action in recent weeks after he fractured his collarbone in a crash during the Tour of Flanders on April 1. After a surprise defeat at the hands of Fredrik Kessiakoff (Astana) in the Tour de Suisse time trial last week, Cancellara was glad to get back into the winning habit.

    Cancellara’s victory was his seventh Swiss time trial title and it was his first participation in the event since 2008. In the intervening period he has twice been crowned Swiss road race champion.

    “I'm very proud to have won another Swiss title in the time trial,” Cancellara said. “It's an honour to wear the colours of your country, even for the seventh time. The competition was very motivated, because all of us want that title.”

    Cancellara clocked an average speed close to 50kph as he saw off the challenge of Thomas Frei (Christina Watches) by 1:54, while Martin Elminger (Ag2r-La Mondiale) was a further 6 seconds back in third.

    Cancellara has long stated that his primary objective for the summer is the London Olympics. Gold medallist in the time trial in Beijing four years ago (as well as silver medallist in the road race), Cancellara will do battle with the likes of Tony Martin (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) and Bradley Wiggins (Sky) for the top step of the podium outside Hampton Court Palace on August 1.

    “I'm happy with where I stand at this point,” Cancellara said. “I was relaxed and very focused. In a race like this you don't have the big infrastructure around you, there are no official split times and there are...

  • Garmin-Barracuda favors experience in Tour de France selections

    2011 Giro della Toscana champion Dan Martin (Garmin-Cervelo) on the podium.
    Article published:
    June 21, 2012, 15:51 BST
    Cycling News

    No white jersey contenders in American team's line-up

    Garmin-Barracuda named its nine men for the Tour de France today, with Giro d'Italia winner Ryder Hesjedal tipped as the team's general classification contender and Tom Danielson and Christian Vande Velde as climbing support.

    Choosing a squad with an average age of 32 and not a single rider qualified for the best young rider classification, the team has favored experience over youthful talent in this year's line-up.

    Dan Martin is the only first time Tour participant in the team, which also features time trial specialists David Millar and Dave Zabriskie, sprinter Tyler Farrar and lead-out man Robbie Hunter along with 2010 Paris-Roubaix winner Johan Vansummeren.

    "We have put together a well-balanced team with an emphasis on support for our leader, Ryder. We have Christian and Tom, both excellent climbers who each have had great GC rides in the Tour and have shown their strength in recent racing. Dan Martin, making his Tour debut, rounds out the climbers of the team," said main director Allan Peiper.

    "The climbers will have the support of TT specialists David Millar and David Zabriskie along with Johan Vansummeren, who will also be able to help out sprinters Farrar and Hunter in the quest for stage wins."

    Notably absent from the Tour roster is Australian Heinrich Haussler, who has struggled this year and was fighting to earn results toward the Tour and the Olympic Games. He had to drop out of the Tour de Suisse due to severe saddle sores.

    Also missing are the team's young American Andrew Talansky, who came second in the Tour de Romandie, and Alex Rasmussen, whose CAS decision on his whereabouts...

  • Sinkewitz cleared of HGH doping charges

    Patrik Sinkewitz (ISD - Neri) after winning the Giro della Romagna.
    Article published:
    June 21, 2012, 16:43 BST
    Cycling News

    WADA guidelines not proven to be scientifically reliable, German sports court rules

    Patrik Sinkewitz has been cleared of charges that he illegally used human growth hormone (HGH). The World Anti-Doping Agency's guidelines for the values were not shown to be scientifically reliable, according to the German Sports Court in Cologne.

    The positive test was announced in March 2011, and the German, then riding for Farnese Vini- Neri Sottoli was the first cyclist to be suspended for using HGH. He has consistently denied the charges.

    The NADA has said it will appeal the decision. “We are not in agreement with this ruling. In particular, it is not explained why these high values were measured in Mr. Sinkewitz's blood. Therefore we will appeal to the CAS,” NADA chief legal adviser Dr. Lars Mortsiefer told the dpa news agency.

    This ruling “has a fundamental meaning for sports law,” Sinkewitz's attorney, Rainer Cherkah, said. “It looks right now like a stage win” for his client.

    Sinkewitz served a one-year suspension after testing positive for testosterone before the Tour de France 2007, and would face a lifetime ban if doping charges were again upheld.

  • Brajkovic and Vinokourov lead Astana at Tour de France

    Alexandre Vinokourov (Astana Pro Team) rides through Villié-Morgon at the start of the time-trial
    Article published:
    June 21, 2012, 18:10 BST
    Cycling News

    Kessiakoff confirmed, Bozic to target sprints

    Astana has announced its Tour de France team, with Janez Brajkovic set to lead the line-up while Alexandre Vinokourov makes the final Grande Boucle appearance of his turbulent career.

    Brajkovic warmed up for the Tour by winning his home race, the Tour de Slovénie, last weekend. A strong time triallist and competent climber, the 2010 Critérium du Dauphiné winner is targeting a high overall finish, although team manager Giuseppe Martinelli was keen to downplay expectations.

    “Brajkovic will be our man for the GC but I do not want to set any specific goals for him,” said Martinelli. “I know that he will give everything to get a good result, both for himself and for the team.”

    Although Brajkovic is likely to be the team’s highest finisher in Paris, Vinokourov remains the totem of the Kazakh team. Now 38 years of age, Vinokourov has had a complicated relationship with the Tour, his third place finish of 2003 was overshadowed by his positive test for blood doping in 2007.

    “Vinokurov is our team captain, our charismatic leader,” said Martinelli.

    The veteran Vinokourov had planned to hang up his wheels after last year’s Tour but had a change of heart when he sustained a fractured pelvis in a crash on stage 9. Although he has had a decidedly low-key 2012 to date, he is looking to sign off his Tour career with a stage win.

    “My form has been improving every day since the Dauphiné,” said Vinokourov. “I recently did a series of training sessions in mountains and saw some good signs. After last year’s unfortunate experience, I am going to the Tour with the aim of winning a...

  • British Cycling names women's Olympic road team

    Elizabeth Armitstead on the podium after winning Gent-Wevelgem
    Article published:
    June 21, 2012, 18:35 BST
    Cycling News

    Martin joins Pooley, Cooke and Armitstead

    British Cycling today announced the composition of its women's road cycling team for the 2012 Olympic Games in London. Defending road race champion Nicole Cooke will return in search of more gold, while Beijing time trial silver medalist Emma Pooley will look to elevate her status to Olympic champion come August 1.

    Cooke will compete only in the road race, while Pooley and Elizabeth Armitstead will ride both the time trial and road race.

    A surprise nod was given to Lucy Martin, who rides on the AA professional team alongside Pooley and Armitstead. While she is ranked lower in the UCI rankings than other British riders such as Wendy Houvenaghel, Sharon Laws and Julia Shaw, Martin is a key lead-out for Armitstead should the race come down to a bunch sprint.

    "I’m really excited to have been selected for my first Olympic Games, it’s a massive honour and I am so proud to be part of Team GB at a home Games," Martin said in a press release. "I’m prepared to give everything I’ve got and just cannot wait to race now in front of a home crowd around the streets of London.”

    Dave Brailsford, the British Cycling Performance Director, acknowledged that the selection was difficult. “Narrowing down the women’s road team from six riders to four wasn’t an easy decision for the selectors to make, but we believe that the four riders we have selected will give us the best opportunity of winning the race."

    Last fall, a public controversy erupted when Armitstead accused Cooke of riding for herself instead of the team in the world championships. The pair later reconciled, and now tasked with keeping the women's road...