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Second Edition Cycling News, Thursday, November 25, 2010

Date published:
November 25, 2010, 0:00 GMT
  • Andy Schleck looks to be the favourite at the 2011 Tour de France

    Tour de France runner up Andy Schleck (Saxo Bank).
    Article published:
    November 25, 2010, 8:41 GMT
    By:
    Daniel Benson

    Proud of his 2010 season accomplishments

    Regardless of the outcome in Alberto Contador’s doping case, Andy Schleck believes that he can line up at the start of next year’s Tour de France as the number one favourite.

    Schleck was pushed into second place by Contador for the second year in a row this year but his performance showed vast improvements from his second place in 2009. Along with winning two stages he wore the yellow jersey for several days and pushed Contador all the way to Paris. He finished just 39 seconds down on the Spaniard in the final classification.

    “I think I can go to next year’s Tour as the favourite and that gives me confidence to achieve that goal, to win it,” Schleck told Cyclingnews.

    “Since I started I’ve progressed every year and if I carry on that progression from this year to next year then I’ll be the favourite this year.”

    Schleck’s start to the season was marred by injury. He was hit by a car in the winter and suffered a knee injury that kept him from training in the build up to the Classics.

    However despite three weeks on the bike he found enough form to show flashes of class in Liege-Bastogne-Liege and Amstel Gold Race before another strong showing in the Tour de Suisse.

    “I was out for three weeks because I had to rest, because in cycling if you’re injured you have to rest. There’s no in between. I had to take my time.

    “Then in Pays Basque I was actually feeling pretty good and although I was not 100 per cent in the Classics I was still up there for the victory.”

    The Tour de France was Schleck’s main focus for the year and the young Luxembourg climber was Contador’s only challenger, however. Since it was announced that Contador tested positive for Clenbuterol, Schleck has made it clear that he does not wish to receive the yellow jersey should the Spaniard be stripped of his title, insisting that he...

  • Rasmussen dismayed at lack of Saxo Bank contract

    The controversial Michael Rasmussen pictured at the Tre Valli Varesine
    Article published:
    November 25, 2010, 9:30 GMT
    By:
    Susan Westemeyer

    Personal sponsor to set up a team around Danish climber

    Michael Rasmussen is “in a state of shock” at the news he won't ride for Team Saxo Bank-SunGard in 2011, but appears set to act as captain of a team his personal sponsor is trying to set up for him. Christina Hembo is looking for additional sponsors for Christina Racing, of which Rasmussen is part owner.

    Saxo Bank-SunGard team owner Bjarne Riis confirmed this week that he would not sign Rasmussen. “It is a comprehensive decision and it is a summation of many things that I don't want to go into detail about,” he told the Ritzau news agency.

    Negotiations took place, he confirmed, but appear not to have been too serious on the team's side. “Were there long negotiations? I don't know. It is mostly the press who was involved."

    "I'm in a state of shock right now. I am extremely disappointed and sad,” Rasmussen told Ritzau. “This is something that has been going on for a long time and I had so much wanted to ride races again with Bjarne's team.”

    “I know from Bjarne, that there are no sporting reasons behind the decision. But beyond that, I do not know anything.”

    Personal sponsor looks to keep on helping

    Rasmussen served a two-year doping-related suspension, which expired in July 2009. He rode that summer for the Mexican team Tecos Trek, and rode the first part of 2010 with the Italian Continental-ranked team Miche Silver Cross.

    Since July he has ridden for Christina Racing, under his personal sponsor Christina Hembo, a watch designer. So far he has been the only one on the team, but Hembo is looking to change that.

    "I will now, in cooperation with Michael Rasmussen, work to make Christina Racing a 'real cycling team' with Michael as team captain and part owner of the team, she said in a written statement, according to dr.dk.

    "I don't have the resources to own a cycling team that can make...

  • Vinokourov aiming for Tour de France podium in 2011

    All smiles for Alexandre Vinokourov (Astana)
    Article published:
    November 25, 2010, 10:42 GMT
    By:
    Barry Ryan

    Kazakh hopes Contador and Astana keep 2010 yellow jersey

    Alexander Vinokourov (Astana) has said that he is aiming to finish on the podium of the 2011 Tour de France. He also expressed his hope that erstwhile teammate Alberto Contador does not lose his yellow jersey as a consequence of returning an adverse analytical finding for Clenbuterol during the 2010 race.

    Vinokourov tested positive for blood doping at the 2007 Tour and missed the following two editions of the race while serving his suspension. He returned to the event this season and took a stage win, as well as helping Contador to the top step of the podium in Paris. He is now hoping for greater things, in spite of the fact that he turned 37 in September.

    “As it stands today, we’re thinking in terms of the general classification, why not?” Vinokourov told Astanafans.com. “Let’s just say that in this year’s Tour, in cycling terms, I could have fought for third place with Menchov [had he not been riding in support of Contador – ed]. So there is always a chance.

    “We won’t give up on the battle for the overall before the start. We will fight for the yellow jersey, and after that, the mountains jersey, team classification or the beautiful stages. But today, at least, the aim is to fight for the podium.”

    Vinokourov also declared himself pleased with the route of the 2011 Tour, which he believes will suit his aggressive style of riding. The stages in Massif Central are a particular attraction for the Kazakh.

    “There are some quite difficult stages there,” he said. “In principle, the route is ideal. Well, maybe not ‘ideal,’ but certainly it is a good Tour.”

    The Tour’s novel opening days are also on Vinokourov’s radar: “First up, there’s no prologue, which is something different. Then the team time trial, which is hard but we have good riders.”

    The Contador...

  • Cancellara looking to the future, both short-term and long-term

    Oh, you guys: Fabian Cancellara was clearly enjoying the moment as he raised his fourth gold in the elite men’s time trial. That Aussie victory broke his tie with Australia’s Michael Rogers, making Cancellara the most winningest rider in the elite men’s time trial.
    Article published:
    November 25, 2010, 11:11 GMT
    By:
    Susan Westemeyer

    New management firm but still no team announcement

    Fabian Cancellara is back in training after his all-too-short off season. The world champion has still not announced his team for the coming season, but did say that he is changing his management firm. He also took a philosophical look at his life and his season.

    Cancellara is expected to join the Luxembourg Pro Cycling Project, but publicly he remains coy on the subject. “My new team will announce my signing in the next few weeks,” he told Blick.ch.

    On his blog at SwissOlympic.ch, he added, “In choosing my team, it was very important that it also offered my future perspectives.”

    Meanwhile he is changing his management from IMG Schweiz to Pool Position Switzerland AG. “After ten years of good cooperation with IMC, I have looked for a new challenge for the further development of my career and what comes after my career. This young dynamic agency with its exciting composition can guarantee me that.”

    Family and sport

    On SwissOlympic.ch, the 29-year-old reflected on the past season, and noted that the off-season is getting shorter and shorter. While others have five weeks to “do nothing,” he must give interviews and make appearances. “Actually I would rather hang Christmas lights, but when you are as near the top as I am, then probably there just isn't any off-season any more.”

    Turning philosophical, the Swiss rider said that “success changes your life,” but added that “other values are more important to me than being successful. Or being famous. Or rich. You are not a better person, just because you are a champion.”

    He also knows that “basically there are more important things in life than sport.” Right now it is his job, but at some point that will be over. “But what stays forever is the family. Doing something with them...

  • Garmin-Cervelo to dominate Spring Classics, Vansummeren says

    Garmin's Classics recruit, Johan Vansummeren, rides to the start.
    Article published:
    November 25, 2010, 12:00 GMT
    By:
    Susan Westemeyer

    Belgian confident team will deliver

    Johan Vansummeren is looking for Team Garmin-Cervelo to dominate the Spring Classics in the coming year. He believes that the team of Thor Hushovd, David Millar, Maarten Maaskant, Tyler Farrar and of course Vansummeren himself is capable of bringing its share of argyle onto the podiums of northern Europe come April.

    "I think we're going to be one of the strongest teams in the Spring Classics,” he told ProCycling.no. “It is an honor to ride with the world champion on the team. I think we're going to see Garmin at the front of a lot of the classics in northern France and Belgium. I am confident that we will deliver.”

    Vansummeren joined Garmin this year after five years with Lotto. He did not do well in the Classics this year, dropping out of Paris-Roubaix and his best finish being 21st in Gent-Wevelgem. However, in 2003 he won the U23 Liege-Bastogne-Liege, and has finished eighth (2008) and fifth (2009) in Paris-Roubaix.

    Looking at the competition, the 29-year-old noted that “It's basically the same teams every time. Tom Boonen is still there, and Fabian Cancellara will be riding for another team. He won't lose his good legs, so he is certainly to be reckoned with next season.”

  • Androni Giocattoli gamble on Rujano and Sella for 2011

    Anyone heading to La Thuile? Jose Rujano looks for a ride to the finish
    Article published:
    November 25, 2010, 12:26 GMT
    By:
    Barry Ryan

    Former junior world champion D'Amore returns with Savio's team

    Androni Giocattoli manager Gianni Savio believes that time is running out for José Rujano to make the most of his talent. The Venezuelan climber has returned to the team that he left midway through the 2006 season and Savio admits that he has taken something of a gamble in welcoming him back into the fold.

    “Why should I believe that José will be a winning ticket? Because I’ve told him that it’s his last chance,” Savio told Gazzetta dello Sport. “He was already a special case in 2005; he always wanted to do his own thing. But he has great talent: he just needs to be followed with great care.”

    Rujano exploded onto the scene at the 2005 Giro d’Italia, finishing 3rd overall and winning an epic stage over the Colle delle Finestre to Sestriere while riding for Selle Italia-Colombia. He left for Quick Step after the 2006 Giro, and has changed teams five times in the past five seasons without ever replicating his 2005 form on European roads.

    “I trust in his new intentions,” Savio said. “If he gets back into action with the humility of back then, he will get his rewards.”

    Savio took another punt in the transfer market by signing Emanuele Sella from CarmioOro, and he drew parallels between that acquisition and his signing of Michele Scarponi on his return from a ban for his part in Operacion Puerto. Scarponi left for Lampre-ISD at the end of the season after a very successful spell with Androni.

    Sella tested positive for CERA in 2008 and received a reduced suspension after collaborating with Italian anti-doping authorities. He came back to racing in August 2009 and is set to return to the Giro d’Italia with Androni in May.

    “In Emanuele’s case, we’re also talking about a last chance,” Savio admitted. “He made mistakes, he paid for them and he came back quietly, struggling a little, but always getting in...

  • Lefevere secures Quick Step's future with major investment

    Quick Step line up before the stage
    Article published:
    November 25, 2010, 12:57 GMT
    By:
    Daniel Simms

    Belgian team's future assured through 2013 as Bakala and Kok take majority share

    Team Quick Step has ensured its future for at least another two years, as billionaires Zdenĕk Bakala and Bessel Kok have purchased a majority share in the team's management company, run by team manager Patrick Lefevere.

    Bakala is said to have provided enough money for the team to run through at least 2013. Quick Step will remain the sole name sponsor.

    Bakala said that,  “The team has proven itself as one of the most successful cycling teams with fantastic riders, professional management and support staff. I am delighted to become part of this exciting team.”

    Lefevere added: "We have worked very hard in the past few months to reach this agreement. We're very satisfied of having  reached this goal. This agreement will allow the team as well as the people who work for the team to have a guaranteed future even after 2011. From now on we will be able to focus on next season and on building the team for the near future. Our objective, as usual, is to win prestigious awards. Quick Step will stay as the main sponsor for the 2011 season. All remaining partners of the team also confirmed their commitment for next season."

    The move is also expected to facilitate the transfer of cyclo-cross world champion Zdenek Stybar to the Belgian road team. Earlier this week the Czech confirmed rumours that he is on the verge of leaving Telenet Fidea for Quick Step, and then combining road and 'cross races.

    Bakala is a graduate of the University of California Berkeley and the Dartmouth School of Business. He has a variety of financial interests, including shares in coal company New World Resources and the Ukrainian iron ore producer Ferrexpo. He also founded Patria Finance, one of the largest investment banking firms in the Czech Republic.

  • Holm calls proposed new Rasmussen team a marketing stunt

    Embattled Tour de France leader Michael Rasmussen (Rabobank)
    Article published:
    November 25, 2010, 14:10 GMT
    By:
    Susan Westemeyer

    Plans unrealistic, Dane says

    Brian Holm has called plans to form a new cycling team around Michael Rasmussen a “marketing stunt.” The directeur sportif at HTC-Columbia scoffed at the plans of the Christina Racing to build a new team in which Rasmussen would be captain and co-owner.

    Rasmussen's personal sponsor, Christina Hembo, had said she would set up the team in response to Rasmussen's failure to get a contract with Saxo Bank-SunGard for the coming season. He has been riding under the Christina Racing team name as the team's only rider since July.

    "You can only smile at such plans,” Holm told sporten.dk. “But if Hembo works really fast and puts up about 10 million Krone, she might have a chance at a wildcard for the Tour of Luxembourg or Hessen Rundfahrt.” “It is not an easy task to start a cycling team with the entire organizational set-up. Just for a start you need to have cars, bikes, masseurs and mechanics assigned,” Holm continued.

    "There there is the problem of finding more riders. “Riders are also not easy to find at this time of season when most have contracts for 2011.”

    He recommended instead that “She might consider giving money to the Herning Cycle Club, where she will be doing some good for racing. But I have trouble seeing Hembo's project as anything more than a marketing stunt.”