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Second Edition Cycling News, Thursday, October 22, 2009

Date published:
October 22, 2009, 1:00 BST
  • Lampre signs Spezialetti, Bernucci

    Italian Alessandro Spezialetti, 34
    Article published:
    October 22, 2009, 15:49 BST
    Gregor Brown

    Two LPR Italians pass to one of Italy's top teams

    Italian team Lampre-NGC signed Alessandro Spezialetti and Lorenzo Bernucci today, according to Tuttobiciweb. The two Italians join sprinter Alessandro Petacchi in making the jump from LPR Brakes.

    Lampre's star rider, Damiano Cunego, helped convince his team to offer a two-year contract to Spezialetti. "I already worked with him during my years at Saeco," said Spezialetti, 34. "Damiano brought up the proposal during the races, my agents did the rest."

    Spezialetti helped Cunego to a surprise Giro d'Italia win in 2004. This year he worked for LPR's Danilo Di Luca, who finished second overall, but later failed a doping test.

    Bernucci, 30, worked as a lead-out man for Petacchi this year and in 2005 at Fassa Bortolo. Lampre signed offered him a one-year contract. He will help Lampre's star signee, Petacchi, and aim for the Northern Classics next season.

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  • Reactions to Tour of California's 2010 route announcement

    Jonathan Vaughters
    Article published:
    October 22, 2009, 16:57 BST
    Cycling News

    Stapleton, Vaughters, Amadio, Farrar and Schleck weigh in

    Cycling's top riders and team staff examined the route of the 2010 Tour of California after it was announced today. They told Cyclingnews that it will be a race to rival the three Grand Tours and its May date allows for more climbing.

    Bob Stapleton (Team Manager, Columbia HTC)

    We're heading into an interesting time in the sport right now with the Tour (de France), Giro (d'Italia) and Tour of California all announcing their route on top of each other. I think the biggest challenge for the teams now is how to race these three Grand Tours at a high level and how to use their athletes to the maximum effort.

    In my opinion California is a Grand Tour now. It has the world’s ninth largest economy directly behind France. The race will be televised in over 100 countries it has a broad following in Europe already. The concentration of these fantastic races in a 90-day period is pretty fantastic for the sport. You’re going to see the world’s eyes on cycling.

    Jonathan Vaugthers  ( Team Manager, Garmin Slipstream)

    The course is by far the most interesting and challenging it’s ever been. I think it’s ideally suited to Zabriskie, with the long gradual climb to Big Bear and the longer time trial. We’ll be going to win, that’s for certain.

    The date move won’t compromise anything. We’ll be sending a strong team to the Giro and a strong team to California. Obviously the American riders probably want to do California and the foreigners prefer the Giro.

    Roberto Amadio (Team Manager, Liquigas)

    The Tour of California has grown a lot. I was there this year. Based on the riders, the organisation and the fans, I would say it is at the level of a Grand Tour, comparable to the Giro d'Italia.

    The fans are incredible there, and that's considering it's in a country where cycling is not one of...

  • San Diego loses bid for Tour of California stage

    Fans cheer Andy Schleck and Jens Voigt atop Palomar Mountain in the 2009 Tour of California.
    Article published:
    October 22, 2009, 16:59 BST
    Daniel Simms

    Planned stage from Oceanside cut with shortened Tour

    San Diego county proved to be one of the most popular places for spectators to take in the Tour of California when the race passed over Palomar Mountain and ended in Escondido last year, but the race will not make it to the state's southernmost county in 2010.

    Fans packed the top of Palomar Mountain this February, but will have to head north to see the closest stage in 2010. The race route, announced Thursday, goes only as far south as Los Angeles.

    The North County Times reported that the economic recession was a factor in the race being shortened to eight days, down from nine in 2009. The missing day meant the race could not visit San Diego.

    "Logistically, it was a stretch for them to come to San Diego County with the race one day shorter," said Cami Mattson, chief executive of the San Diego North Convention & Visitors Bureau. "They also made a commitment to be in L.A. Saturday night, so it would be hard for them to finish in San Diego (County) on Sunday."

    The newspaper reported that the region had pitched a new route that omitted Palomar Mountain, beginning in Oceanside and ending in Escondido. The towns had committed $250,000 to the race so far.

    Despite the bid being rejected, the county hopes to see the race return in the future when it expands.

    "We don't see this as the end, we see it as working toward next year," said Mattson. "It's just a matter of time before they come back. Our goal will be to keep the local enthusiasm and momentum going."

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  • Tour of California 2010 Route Announced

    Levi Leipheimer has won three Tours of Californias in a row.
    Article published:
    October 22, 2009, 17:05 BST
    Daniel Benson

    Queen stage to visit Big Bear

    The 2010 Amgen Tour of California, May 16 to 23, was announced Thursday with the race consisting of eight stages across America's sunshine state. The race will begin in Nevada City and finish in the Agoura Hills and will take in more climbing than ever before, in what is widely believed to be the race's hardest ever route.

    Stage distances are yet to be announced but race organizers have confirmed to Cyclingnews that the entire route will cover roughly 800 miles.

    "At this point we're not going to discuss what's between the starts and finishes as we still have more work to do," said Andrew Messick, president of Tour of California organiser AEG. "We're not going to talk about climbs or specifics."

    "I will say that the course and the route will be harder than it was in 2009," Messick added.

    Unlike in 2009, when the race started with a 3.9km prologue in Sacramento, 2010's race will begin with a road stage from Nevada City to Sacramento, designed with a sprint finish in mind.

    Stage two will start in Davis and finish in Santa Rosa - the hometown of three time winner and defending champion Levi Leipheimer - before the first mountainous test on stage 3 from San Francisco to Santa Cruz. Both stage 2 and 3 are repeats from 2009 but will consists of one extra climb en route to the finish.

    Stage 4 runs from San Jose to Modesto, and will most likely take the same route used in 2009 when Thor Hushovd claimed Cervelo Test Team's first ever win ahead of Oscar Friere (Rabobank) and Mark Renshaw (Columbia HTC).

    The following stage will see the race visit two new locations, starting in Visalia and finishing in Bakersfield, in what will probably be the last chance for the sprinters.

    Beware the grizzly Big Bear

    Previously held in February and at the mercy of the Californian winter weather, the race will now include the climb to Big Bear Lake on stage 6. It will be the first time that the...

  • Armstrong and defending champion Leipheimer commit to Tour of California

    USA's Levi Leipheimer (Astana)
    Article published:
    October 22, 2009, 17:17 BST
    Cycling News

    US National Champions Hincapie and Zabriskie also twitter their race intentions

    Lance Armstrong, Levi Leipheimer, George Hincapie and Dave Zabriskie will race the Tour of California in 2010. The favorites started announcing their intentions to race the 2010 Tour of California via Twitter on Thursday morning.

    Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger started the announcement with a Twitter comment about how great the next edition of the race would be. In it, he also invited Lance Armstrong to attend. Shortly thereafer, Armstrong responded, "Absolutely... I've decided to ride the Amgen Tour of California in 2010. Can't wait. What about you @levileipheimer?" 

    Since the Tour of California has moved from February to May, Armstrong's announcement is significant; it means he will not be racing the Giro d'Italia.

    Then it was Leipheimer's turn to say he'd be there. The three-time race winner passed the Twitter baton next to US National Road Champion George Hincapie, who promised that he'd show up wearing his stars and stripes.

    National Time Trial Champion Dave Zabrikie followed suit. He stated his intentions to race in California.

    Soon after, Armstrong and Leipheimer shared the names of the host cities for stages one and two.

    Leipheimer won the 2009 edition of the race, with Lance Armstrong working for him as an Astana teammate. The two will ride together next season for RadioShack. Hincapie will race for the BMC team while Zabriskie will race for Garmin-Slipstream.

  • Leipheimer wants a fourth Tour of California win

    Levi Leipheimer has won Tour of California three times.
    Article published:
    October 22, 2009, 18:30 BST
    Laura Weislo

    Says 2010 race shaping up to be the hardest edition yet

    Three-time Tour of California winner Levi Leipheimer made his intentions clear for the 2010 edition of the race on Thursday following the announcement of the race's host cities. "There's no doubt I want to win it again," he told Cyclingnews.

    "It gets more and more difficult every year you come back as defending champion. I've won three times, and if that's all I win in my career, I'll be happy with that."

    He will come to the race with a new team, but many familiar faces both on the bikes and in the team cars of the nascent RadioShack squad. "I'm really happy with this group. There are a lot of the same riders and staff as US Postal, Discovery Channel and Astana, so for me it's kind of like being on the same team with just a change of colors. It's also great to be back with a big American sponsor in RadioShack."

    Leipheimer sees many benefits of having the race move from its previous time slot in February to the more desirable week in mid-May.

    "You saw the weather last year when we came into Santa Rosa, it was just horrific, it was all about survival. Riding in that day after day really fatigues you, and fatigue can lead to crashes. So changing it to May with better weather will make it more enjoyable."

    The winter dates largely precluded having high elevations, as roads can be choked by snow in February, but organisers will be able to include the race's first ever summit finish at Big Bear Lake, elevation 6,752 ft (2,058 m).

    "I don't know the climb, but I've heard a lot about it. It's about a 6,000 foot difference from the bottom to the top - that's massive," said Leipheimer. "We don't even see that in the Tour. Maybe the Galibier or the Telegraph, but that kind of elevation gain is major. It's the first mountaintop finish of the Tour, and I'm really excited about it.

    "They're saying it's going to have 13-14,000 feet of climbing on that stage, and that's serious. That's got me excited!"

  • Astana's ProTour application still not in order, Contador free to go?

    Alberto Contador
    Article published:
    October 22, 2009, 20:47 BST
    Cycling News

    Sky, Caisse d'Epargne, Saxo Bank and Euskaltel also pending

    The International Cycling Union (UCI) released on Thursday a list of all ProTour teams which have fulfilled all requirements for a 2010 license, and five teams did not make that list.

    Astana, Caisse d'Epargne, Saxo Bank, Team Sky and Eusktaltel-Euskadi have until November 20th to submit the required information including a budget, sponsorship contracts, a bank guarantee and at least 12 signed rider contracts.

    By UCI regulations, riders of all five teams which have not yet met the requirements for a ProTour license can terminate their contracts if they wish.

    The standard UCI rider/team contract (2.15.139 article 8.1.f) states, "if, on 20 October of the year preceding a year of registration covered by the present contract, the UCI ProTeam has not submitted a registration file containing the essential documents," the rider may terminate the contract "without notice or liability for damages".

    This would include two-time Tour de France winner Alberto Contador, who has indicated that he would prefer to leave the Astana team. He has been courted by Quick Step, Caisse d'Epargne and Garmin-Slipstream.

    AG2R La Mondiale, Française des Jeux, Footon-Servetto, Garmin-Slipstream, Lampre Farnese Vini, Liquigas-Dommo, Quick-Step Cycling Team, Rabobank Cycling Team, RadioShack, Omega Pharma-Lotto, Team Columbia-HTC, Team Katusha and Team Milram have satisfied all of the requirements for the ProTour license.

    "The UCI and Ernst&Young will continue to evaluate all applications, including those of teams not in the above list, which have until 20 November to submit their completed applications. The UCI ProTour Council will make a final decision on UCI ProTeam registrations for the 2010 season after the official deadline of 20 November," a UCI press release stated.

    The License Commission is the final step for application approval, and if that panel rejects the file, the UCI ProTour team license would be...

  • Dempster not dwelling on Warrnambool defense

    Stage four podium (l-r): Mitchell Pearson (2nd,Shortis Cycle & Tri-Avanti Plus), Joel Pearson (1st,Savings and Loans), and Zak Dempster (3rd, Drapac Porsche).
    Article published:
    October 23, 2009, 2:56 BST
    Greg Johnson

    Youngster destined for Europe in 2010

    Australia’s Zak Dempster will contest this weekend’s Melbourne-Warrnambool in Victoria, Australia but says he’s not getting too hung up on defending his title. Dempster, who won the 261-kilometre one day race on debut last year, also revealed he’s signed with a yet-to-be-named European team for next season.

    Following a crash at last week’s Jayco Herald Sun Tour, Dempster said he's just looking forward to racing again as his road season with Drapac-Porsche winds down. "I don't feel awesome yet, but I've got tomorrow to get ready I guess," he joked. "To be honest I'm still recovering from the crash. I'm feeling better; I'll be able to come up for the day."

    Dempster hadn't focused on last year's event, where he out-sprinted Hilton Clarke to win from the six-man lead group. He had only entered the event to race with his father, Darren, but come race day he was there to win – a feeling he expects to return on Saturday.

    "I don't want to make the Melbourne-Warrnambool a really desperate quest every year," admitted Dempster. "I think it's a really beautiful race and I'm very honoured to be a part of that history now having won it, even to compete is a real buzz. I guess it compares to the Hawaii Ironman or the Boston Marathon; there’s probably 15 guys that are capable of winning it, the rest are in it because it's such an atmosphere, such an event – they're all competing fiercely still, but that's part of the beauty of it if you see what I mean."

    "Of course, when I line-up I'll have winning on my mind, but this week has been a pretty exhausting week and I’m really just looking forward to racing," he added. "I'm looking forward to getting amongst it; it is a painful race because it's so long and the wind, the elements, but I'm just really looking forward to having some fun."

    Dempster was quick to single out one rider when asked where his main competition would come from: David...