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Second Edition Cycling News, Thursday, September 10, 2009

Date published:
September 10, 2009, 1:00 BST
  • Luxembourg, Belgium start naming final Worlds squads

    Luxembourg's champion, Andy Schleck (Saxo Bank)
    Article published:
    September 10, 2009, 9:36 BST
    Cycling News

    Small team for Luxembourg, no men's road race squad yet for Belgium

    Luxembourg and Belgium have announced partial teams for the upcoming World Championships in Mendrisio, Switzerland, later this month. Luxembourg is sending a smaller squad than it could, and the Belgians have yet to name the men's road race team.

    Andy Schleck (Saxo Bank) and Kim Kirchen (Columbia-HTC) are the big names on the team announced by the Grand Duchy's federation. Fränk Schleck was supposed to be on the roster as well, but instead is undergoing knee surgery later this week, ending his season early. Both Andy Schleck and Kirchen have dropped out of the Vuelta a España with intestinal problems, but are expected to be healthy again for the Worlds.

    Laurent Didier (Design Kokken) and Jempy Drucker (Continental Team Differdange) round out the team. The country was sixth in World Classifications announced last month, allowing it to send nine riders to the World Championships, but the national federation chooses to compete with only four riders.

    Luxembourg has also nominated Pit Schlecter and Joël Zangerlé for the U23 road race. Ben Gastauer is named for the both the U23 road race and time trial.

    According to the Belgian newspaper Het Nieuwsblad, Belgian national coaches Carlo Bomans, Jean-Pierre Dubois and Ludwig Willems have selected the men's time trial, women's road and both U23 teams. Dominique Cornu and Sébastien Rosseler, both of Quick Step, will ride the men's race against the clock. The men's road race team is due to be announced September 14.

    Jessie Daams, Lieselot Decroix, Liesbet De Vocht, Ludivine Henrion, and Grace Verbeke will ride the women's road race for Belgium. Julien Vermote and Jonathan Dufrasne will ride the U23 time trial, while Kris Boeckmans, Romain Zingle and Sep Vanmarcke have been named for the U23 road race.

  • Farrar leaves Vuelta

    Did Tyler Farrar sell his soul to win the stage?
    Article published:
    September 10, 2009, 10:20 BST
    Shane Stokes

    Stage winner withdraws on rest day to prepare Worlds

    Yesterday saw Tyler Fararr take the first Grand Tour stage victory of his career, but the Garmin Slipstream rider has decided not to persist in the Vuelta a España. Although the 25-year-old is clearly one of the fastest sprinters in the race, he has decided to withdraw on the rest day and will concentrate on his next target, the World Championships in Mendrisio, Switzerland.

    "Tyler will pull out of the Vuelta today," directeur sportif Johnny Weltz told Cyclingnews this morning. "Yesterday was a little extra, that went very well, but with the tough mountain stages ahead he'll stop now. He doesn't have any problems - we always planned that he'd pull out during the race as he's started three Grand Tours this year. He's a young guy and has already done a lot.

    "The plan now is that he will head home now and prepare for the Worlds," he added.

    Farrar has had an excellent season, netting a string of second and third places in the Giro d'Italia and the Tour de France, winning three stages in the Eneco Tour, taking the Vattenfalls Cyclassics plus other successes. He's emerged as probably the biggest rival to Mark Cavendish, even if the Manx rider currently has the edge in sprints.

    Farrar has been racing since February, when he finished fourth and fifth on stages of the Tour of California.

  • Astarloza maintains total innocence

    Mikel Astarloza speaks to the press about his alleged dopnig positive.
    Article published:
    September 10, 2009, 11:40 BST
    Hedwig Kröner

    Euskaltel-Euskadi stands by its rider

    Basque Mikel Astarloza reiterated he's innocent following counter-analysis confirmation of a positive test for blood booster Erythropoietin (EPO). Astarloza, who won Tour de France stage 16, dismisses any drug use and his Euskaltel-Euskadi team supports him.

    "I'm completely innocent," Astarloza told Cyclingnews today, one day after the counter-analysis confirmation. "Unfortunately, I can't prove it, and I can't explain what happened. I just know that I haven't taken anything prohibited. I'm very unhappy, as I don't know what could have possibly put me in this situation.

    "I understand that it's difficult to believe that a positive cyclist is innocent. People will think: 'Why should we believe him and not the others?' – I understand. But if I'd done something wrong, I would have the courage to admit it. But I don't want to admit something that I haven't done. Even if this would get me a reduced ban of just one year."

    Astarloza, 29, tested positive for EPO on June 26, but the International Cycling Union (UCI) only announced the result after the Tour de France, on July 31. He won the mountain stage to Bourg-Saint-Maurice, on July 1, ahead of France's Sandy Casar (Française des Jeux).

    Euskaltel-Euskadi said yesterday that it believes Astarloza and asked several lawyers and experts to prove his innocence. It announced that it temporarily suspended him from the team.

    "We will not sanction him as we are certain that he has not taken any prohibited substance. Anti-doping analysis is unreliable," said directeur sportif Gorka Gerrikagoitia yesterday.

    "They have my medical records and blood values since I joined the team three years ago," said Astarloza. "If they continue to believe in me, then that also means they have all the reason to."

    He knows that his quest to clean his name will not be an easy one. "Of course there have been so many doping offenses in cycling that people will not believe me....

  • Gerrans wins third big race, Worlds next?

    Simon Gerrans (Cervélo TestTeam), 29, wins Vuelta a España stage 10 to Murcia
    Article published:
    September 10, 2009, 11:45 BST
    Gregor Brown

    Australian Gerrans wins Vuelta stage, targets Worlds, 2010 Ardennes with team Sky

    Australian Simon Gerrans has only won three times this year, but they have all been big victories: a stage at both the Giro d'Italia and the Vuelta a España, as well as French one-day race GP Plouay. The Cervélo rider won the Vuelta a España's 10th stage to Murcia Tuesday and looks ahead to his next objective in two weeks, the World Championships.

    "I have been able to come up right each time," Gerrans told Cyclingnews. "This year I have had a big race programme, I have not done too many smaller races. The smaller ones I have done have been preparations for my objectives."

    Gerrans, 29, prepared well for the Ardennes Classics in April. Although he failed to get a victory, he placed in the top ten in all three races. His good form carried him through to the Giro. In Italy, he supported overall leader Carlos Sastre and fought for stage wins, finally  succeeding on the famous climb to the San Luca sanctuary in Bologna.

    After a break, Gerrans came back to win France's one-day Classic GP Plouay in August. The event was held on the same course as the 2000 World Championships and might predict the future for the Australian.

    "I have come here [Vuelta - ed.] to also prepare for the World Championships," continued Gerrans. "If you look at the past 10 years, most of the winners have come from the Vuelta.

    "I think I definitely merit some support in the Australian team, but we should have multiple captains and not put it all on one guy's shoulders. I don't know, if it all pans out right I can be up there with the best."

    This year's circuit in Mendrisio, Switzerland, is 13.8 kilometres long and features two climbs, Acqua Fresca and Novazzano. It will be repeated 19 times for 262.2 kilometres and 4655 metres of climbing.

    Whether or not Gerrans will wear the World Champion's rainbow jersey in 2010, he will race with the Sky logo. Gerrans announced today that he would join the...

  • Sky announces ten more riders

    British Cycling performance director Dave Brailsford
    Article published:
    September 10, 2009, 11:50 BST
    Daniel Benson and Susan Westemeyer

    Boasson Hagen, Lövkvist, Gerrans, Flecha lead the list

    Team Sky has made the biggest indication that it will be a major force in international cycling by announcing 10 more riders for the 2010 season. It comes a day after team principal Dave Brailsford revealed the first six British riders.

    The new signings are Edvald Boasson Hagen, Thomas Lövkvist, Kurt Asle Arvesen, Simon Gerrans, Juan Antonio Flecha, Kjell Calström, John Lee Augustyn, Greg Henderson, Las Petter Nordhaug and Morris Possoni.

    "Today we’ve brought ten more riders into our team," Brailsford said. "It’s another big step in building Team Sky, and it’s very exciting to see the team take shape. These international riders join a British contingent - a fundamental part of the team - that we announced yesterday. They bring huge experience from the Classics and Tours, real talent that we can develop, and key elements for a high performance team."

    Boasson Hagen has had his most successful year to date in 2009, winning Gent- Wevelgem as well as a stage in the Giro d’Italia and overall at Eneco Tour. Signed from Columbia-HTC along with Lövkvist, Henderson and Possoni, he’s set to have his chance at leading a team. However with riders of the calibre of Gerrans, Flecha and Lövkvist, Team Sky looks more than capable of competing on an array of fronts.

    The new signings follow Geraint Thomas, Steve Cummings, Pete Kennaugh, Chris Froome, Ian Stannard and Russell Downing onto the roster. Over the following months these riders will be joined by up to ten more.

    The new riders

    Thomas Lövkvist

    Signed from Columbia, the Swede has had a breakthrough year, wearing the Maglia Rosa in the Giro. Sky believes him to an all rounder with potential in the Grand Tours and Classics.

    Lövkvist says: "After two good years with Stapleton's team I felt that I reached the highest level of my possible growth there. The...

  • Farrar's consistency produces wins, says director White

    USA's Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Slipstream), 25, wins Vuelta stage 11 in Caravaca de la Cruz, Spain
    Article published:
    September 10, 2009, 15:38 BST
    Gregor Brown

    Garmin's White impressed with Farrar's progress over last year

    Tyler Farrar's progress over the last year has impressed his Garmin-Slipstream team's sport director, Matt White. Farrar won his first win in a Grand Tour at the Vuelta a España on Thursday after four second places in the Giro d'Italia and Tour de France this year.

    "He is a different bike rider than he was 12 months ago," White said to Cyclingnews. "Last August he really struggled with the heat and the climbs at the Tour of Portugal, but we saw him making it through a medium mountain stage to win in the Vuelta."

    The American Farrar, 25, won Thursday's Vuelta stage 11 sprint finish in Caravaca de la Cruz, Spain. White has watched him progress since last year.  He directed Farrar to his first big win in 2009 in stage three of Tirreno-Adriatico. There, Farrar won ahead of established sprinters Alessandro Petacchi, Thor Hushovd and Mark Cavendish.

    Farrar raced his first Grand Tour, the Giro d'Italia, in May. He finished second to Cavendish and Petacchi twice each. It was a similar result at the Tour de France, where he placed second twice to Cavendish.

    Before the Vuelta, Farrar's fortune changed. He won one of the biggest one-day races for a sprinter, the Vattenfall Cyclassics, in Hamburg, Germany. His good form continued in the Eneco Tour, where he won three stages.

    "I think Hamburg was a big turning point for him, that was a huge win," White said. "Then, after he came close so many times in the Giro, Tour and Vuelta, to finally get a win in a Grand Tour is a very big moment for him. His consistency from the Tour of California through today is a great sign for the future."

    Farrar abandoned the Vuelta after his win yesterday to prepare for the World Championships and his next objective, Paris-Tours. He won the bunch sprint for fifth last year and can win this year, said White.

    "Mark [Cavendish] will be the one to beat. Tyler will have good condition from the Vuelta, and he...

  • Flecha looks ahead to Sky years

    Juan Antonio Flecha (Rabobank) rides in Paris-Roubaix
    Article published:
    September 10, 2009, 17:18 BST
    Gregor Brown

    Spanish Classics rider excited about future with British team

    Spanish Classics specialist Juan Antonio Flecha is looking forward to the coming years with British team Sky. The team announced today that it signed Flecha and other stars for the coming season.

    "They have built it with sense, but also passion. It shows a lot about the team's organisation that they developed slowly it over the last two years," Flecha told Cyclingnews.

    The brain child of British performance director David Brailsford, Team Sky has been in the works since 2008. After a heavy recruiting campaign, the team announced this week that it has signed top riders like Thomas Lövkvist, Edvald Boasson Hagen and Simon Gerrans.

    Flecha is one of the best Spanish Spring Classics riders, having placed third in the 2008 Ronde van Vlaanderen and second in the 2007 Paris-Roubaix. The only other Spaniard to make Roubaix's podium before Flecha was Miguel Poblet, in 1958 and 1960.

    Flecha leaves his Dutch Rabobank team after four years and he said he wanted to make the right team selection. Earlier in the year, he began talking with one of Team Sky's directors, Scott Sunderland.

    "I liked the sound of the Sky project and the way it was going to be built," Flecha said.

    Team Sky has taken several riders from Columbia-HTC, which has dominated the past two seasons. Also recruiting top riders from the American team is the BMC Racing squad. Teams like Sky, BMC and Cervélo are a good sign for cycling, said Flecha. They add to the internationalization of cycling and replace teams that have disappeared, like Crédit Agricole and Gerolsteiner.

    "For me it is fantastic, more teams, more competition and the power of the bunch will be split over several teams. Even with all the scandals of the past, we have new teams and new sponsors."

    Flecha will co-captain the team in races like Tour of...

  • Landis rides a hard road back

    Floyd Landis (OUCH-Maxxis) cruising along in the bunch.
    Article published:
    September 10, 2009, 18:57 BST
    Kirsten Robbins and Peter Hymas

    Tour of Missouri concludes a difficult return

    It seems only a short time ago that Floyd Landis was making his return to professional cycling at the 2009 Tour of California with the American-based UCI Continental team OUCH p/b Maxxis after completing a two-year suspension for a doping violation. Now, Landis is mid-way through one of his last races of the season at the Tour of Missouri, and he gave Cyclingnews a brief insight on where this year has taken him.

    When asked if he was happy with his return to the peloton this year, Landis plainly said, "No. There is really not much else to say."

    Landis was pegged as one of the race favorites at the Tour of California in February alongside other Grand Tour contenders like Levi Leipheimer and Lance Armstrong (Astana), Michael Rogers (Columbia-HTC) and Dave Zabriskie (Garmin-Slipstream). However, the combination of an untimely illness coupled with a lack of race legs meant that the competition proved to be a step above his capabilities.

    Sifting through the results of race after race this year hardly reveals overwhelming success for the returning rider. However, according to Landis, this season has brought more than just mediocrity. "I have a new appreciation for racing in the US," said Landis, who primarily raced in Europe while competing for US Postal and Phonak. "It is great to race so close to home."

    The Tour of Missouri's roads have taken the peloton through towns like Pocahontas, population 127, and the state's largest metro area, St. Louis, with a population of nearly three million, another reason Landis wants to continue racing. "Cycling allows you to see the world and meet lots of people," he said. "This year I have been to parts of the US that I had never been to before, and I have met a lot of great people everywhere I have gone."

    This is his first time competing in the Tour of Missouri, now in its third edition. While he has lost many fans due to his doping violation, there are still those who come out to...