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Second Edition Cycling News, Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Date published:
April 19, 2011, 1:00 BST
  • HTC-Highroad look to animate La Flèche Wallonne

    Michael Albasini (HTC-Highroad) gets a push after crossing the line.
    Article published:
    April 19, 2011, 6:50 BST
    By:
    Cycling News

    Team will try to 'explode' race before Muur

    HTC-Highroad cannot afford to wait passively for the finale on the Muur de Huy, taking no recognised puncheurs to La Flèche Wallonne on Wednesday. Instead, the American team will look to animate the race before the Muur and have given themselves a number of options by taking a diverse team to the 'Walloon Arrow'.

    "We've got a strong squad of all-rounders, but we haven't really got a rider to make the all-out, uphill acceleration on the Muur that so often makes a difference in this race," explained HTC-Highroad sports director Valerio Piva.

    "We’ll adapt our strategy and we'll be looking for breaks from much further out."

    "Each of the climbs earlier on offers a great opportunity for moves to form, and we'll want our riders to make the most of them."

    With this in mind, HTC will hope for riders like, Tony Martin, Marco Pinotti or even Belarusian Kanstantin Siutsov to drive the key breaks and prevent the racing coming together for the scaling of ‘the Wall’. Martin’s pedigree in the time trial and his recent stellar form in winning Paris-Nice, could mean that even a solo move is a possibility.

    Swiss rider Michael Albasini, who is a former top ten finisher in the race, will be the teams protected rider if the inevitable occurs, and a number of riders arrive at the finale together. The former national champion is a good chance but will likely to need a bit of good fortune to get past the more fancied riders.

    "Michael...

  • Gilbert confident ahead of Liège-Bastogne-Liège

    Philippe Gilbert speaks at the post-race press conference
    Article published:
    April 19, 2011, 10:10 BST
    By:
    Barry Ryan

    Belgian confirms he will ride the Tour de France

    Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma-Lotto) got the most important week of his season off to the perfect start with an impressive victory at Amstel Gold Race on Sunday, and the Belgian is in confident mood as he faces into the remainder of his Ardennes campaign.

    Gilbert’s Amstel triumph was his second consecutive win in the Dutch event and he will also ride Wednesday's Fleche-Wallonne, but Easter Sunday’s Liège-Bastogne-Liège is the race he covets above all others. Moral is high in the Omega Pharma-Lotto camp ahead of the big day.

    “Since the finish of the Tour of Lombardy, I’ve said that I wanted to be ready this week,” Gilbert told La Dernière Heure. “And well, I am! I’ve worked an awful lot for that, as has my team, and I know I can count on them. I have a lot of confidence.”

    Born a stone’s throw from the route of La Doyenne, Gilbert is more aware than most of the intricacies of the race, and he is mindful of the need to conserve his energy ahead of the testing finale. The uphill finish at Ans seems well-suited to Gilbert’s characteristics and he will be aiming to make the difference in the closing stages of the classic.

    “I don’t want to waste a pedal strokes before getting to Roches-aux-Faucons,” he explained. “In order to do that, I’m counting on my teammates, and as they showed on Sunday, they are well capable of bringing me to the foot of Saint-Nicolas [the race’s penultimate climb].”

    Looking...

  • Jalabert tips Contador to win Fleche Wallonne

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    Article published:
    April 19, 2011, 11:10 BST
    By:
    Stephen Farrand

    Former winner explains how to conquer the Mur

    Laurent Jalabert has tipped Alberto Contador to win Wednesday's Flèche Wallonne, believing that Philippe Gilbert will save his best for Sunday's Liège-Bastogne-Liège.

    The Frenchman won Flèche Wallonne twice, in 1995 and 1997, but his best result in Liège-Bastogne-Liège was second in 1997 and 1998.

    "I think Gilbert will win Liège-Bastogne-Liège but I think Contador will win Flèche Wallonne because he isn't riding Liège. He'll give everything on Wednesday," Jalabert predicted to L'Equipe, while revealing the secrets to winning on the Mur de Huy.

    Gilbert believes Contador has learnt from the mistake he made last year, when he made his move too early and was passed by eventual winner Cadel Evans and Joaquim Rodriguez.

    "Last year Contador went with 300 metres to go but that's a long way out on the Mur," Jalabert pointed out. "He was too confident but the Mur isn't like an ordinary climb. You've got to be at your very best and be very strong. Contador lacked experience last year. Now he's got a second chance."

    Jalabert gave his view on how to conquer the Mur de Huy.

    "If there's a big group of riders at the bottom of the Mur, as has been the case in recent years, you've got to make a huge effort to be well placed. Being at the front allows you to control things and attack at the right moment. You've got to be able to judge your effort before giving it everything at the end. You're always right on your limit. The Mur is 1300 metres long, so you can't go too early."

    Looking ahead to Liège-Bastogne-Liège, Jalabert warned that Gilbert will have to keep his cool despite being the big favourite.

    "Gilbert is in a...

  • Cofidis provoke ire of Giro del Trentino organisers

    Cofidis amass at the front.
    Article published:
    April 19, 2011, 11:18 BST
    By:
    Barry Ryan

    Disagreement over timing of French team's decision not to participate

    Although listed as a participant on the race’s official website in the run-up to the event, the Cofidis team will not take part in the Giro del Trentino, which begins on Tuesday. While race organisers claims that the French squad withdrew at the last minute, Cofidis manager Eric Boyer insists that his team had never formally confirmed its participation in the Italian stage race.

    According to Nerino Ioppi, secretary of Gruppo Sportivo Garda, Cofidis had registered for the race in January, and the Giro del Trentino organisers will lodge a complaint with the UCI.

    “We are very disappointed by the French team’s behaviour,” Ioppi told Spaziociclismo.it. “We intend to take every action allowed under UCI rules to have the costs incurred reimbursed and guarantee that the team is not allowed to take part in any other race on the same dates.”

    However, Boyer denied that Cofidis had failed to give organisers notice of its decision to withdraw. He explained that although his team had initially registered its interest in participating during the winter, it had opted not to race in Trentino once it had received an invitation to the Amstel Gold Race.

    “It’s not a forfeit, we didn’t pull out just like that, at the last minute,” Boyer told Velochrono.fr. “This winter, we notified the organiser of our desire to participate. But when we received responses to all of our requests for invitations,...

  • BMC changes tactics for Fleche Wallonne

    Belgian rider Greg Van Avermaet (BMC Racing)
    Article published:
    April 19, 2011, 12:24 BST
    By:
    Stephen Farrand

    US team to be more aggressive in the absence of Cadel Evans

    With 2010 Fleche Wallonne winner Cadel Evans out of action with a quadriceps injury, the BMC team will be without a big-name team leader and so plan to ride a more aggressive race before the final climb of the Mur de Huy.

    Evans injured his leg in a training accident three weeks ago and was unable to recover in time to be fit for the Ardennes races. Instead BMC will be captained by Greg Van Avermaet and Martin Kohler. Van Avermaet made a brave attack in the finale of Milan-San Remo but is still looking for his first win of the season after racking up a series of placings.

    "Without Cadel, we will have a more offensive strategy throughout the whole race," BMC directeur sportif John Lelangue said in a statement from the team.

    The BMC team also includes Mathias Frank, the USA's Jeff Louder, Amaël Moinard, Mauro Santambrogio, Ivan Santaromita, Johann Tschopp. The riders studied the last 60km of the route in training on Tuesday.

    BMC also has a team competing a the Giro del Trentino in Italy that includes Alessandro Ballan.
     

  • Contador primed for Flèche Wallonne and Giro d'Italia

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    Article published:
    April 19, 2011, 13:27 BST
    By:
    Peter Cossins

    Spaniard regrets the absence of Cadel Evans from Flèche line-up

    Fortune may not have been on Alberto Contador’s side during last week’s Vuelta Castilla y León, but the indications were that the Spaniard’s form was improving as he moved towards his first major goals of this season: Flèche Wallonne and next month’s Giro d’Italia.

    The Saxo Bank-SunGard team leader punctured 2km from the finish of Castilla y León’s key mountain stage to Laguna de Peces, thwarting his hopes of a fourth overall victory in that event. But he came back to win the following day’s time trial to claim his sixth victory of the season. Contador is free to race while the Court of Arbitration for Sport deliberates on whether he should be sanctioned for a positive test for Clenbuterol at last year’s Tour de France, following an appeal from the UCI.

    Speaking to Cyclingnews in Zamora during Castilla y León, Contador admitted that his form was still a step or two below his best, but is improving. Although keen to contend for the title in what is almost his home race, he explained: “The real objectives are a little bit further ahead of me. I’m looking more towards Flèche Wallonne and of course the Giro d’Italia, which is the principal objective of this first part of the season.”

    Third last year at Flèche behind Cadel Evans and Joaquim Rodríguez, Contador admits that the finish on the Mur de Huy suits him well, and even more so after the experience he gained last year. Back in 2010, Contador responded to the attack made by Euskaltel’s Igor Antón on the third and final climb in Huy, but launched his counter-attack too...

  • 2011 Tour of Britain route unveiled

    The 2011 Tour of Britain route
    Article published:
    April 19, 2011, 14:00 BST
    By:
    Barry Ryan

    Final day time trial adds new dimension

    The 2011 Tour of Britain route was unveiled on Tuesday, with the inclusion of a short time trial and a central London circuit race on the final day of the race.

    The eight-day race begins in Peebles in Scotland on September 11, before the grandstand finale in London the following Sunday, with a 10km time trial in the morning followed by a circuit race around Whitehall in the afternoon.

    In between, there is a balanced mix of flat and rolling stages that will pit the sprinters and opportunists against one another. While day two to Blackpool ought to suit the fast men, the following stage’s uphill finish in Stoke-on-Trent is sure to shake up the general classification.

    An undulating day’s racing in Wales follows, with the Brecon Beacons and Caerphilly Mountain set to provide a sting in the tail of stage four. Next up is a foray into the South West of England, where the rugged terrain will suit punchy riders on the run-in to stage finishes in Exeter and Wells. The penultimate day sees the race tackle its longest stage in East Anglia, before the climactic finish in London.

    It will be the first time the race has featured a time trial since 2005, and will add an interesting new dynamic to the Tour of Britain as well as boosting the chances of time trial specialist such as Bradley Wiggins. This year the overall race leader will wear a gold-coloured jersey.

    “We are very excited about the route for the 2011 Tour of Britain, particularly with the inclusion of the final day time trial in the very heart of London," Tour of Britain Race Director Mick Bennett explained.

    The 16 competing teams is set to include Team Sky, Leopard Trek, Garmin-Cervélo and Rabobank. Michael Albasini (HTC) won the 2010 Tour of Britain.

    Tour of Britain, September 11-18:

    Stage 1, Peebles-Dumfries
    Stage 2, Kendal-Blackpool
    Stage 3, The Stoke-on-Trent Stage
    Stage 4,...

  • Baldwin signs with Bissell Pro Cycling

    Chris Baldwin (juwi Solar-First Solar) put in a huge ride today for 3rd place.
    Article published:
    April 19, 2011, 16:31 BST
    By:
    Kirsten Frattini

    Former US champion rebounds from V Australia shun

    US-based UCI Continental Bissell Pro Cycling recently hired two-time US national time trial champion Chris Baldwin for the remainder of the 2011 season. The Colorado native told Cyclingnews that he will target his home state’s UCI-sanctioned USA Pro Cycling Challenge held from August 22-28.

    Baldwin planned to race under the V Australia Continental team, run by Pegasus Racing owner Chris White, this season. However, those plans fell through when the team needed to make room for several riders from the failed Pegasus Sports ProTeam.

    The decade-long pro started the season with an amateur category license, racing under the local Colorado-based team Juwi Solar-First Solar. He put in a strong performance at the San Dimas Stage Race and placed third overall at the National Racing Calendar (NRC) Redlands Bicycle Classic.

    Baldwin won the USPro time trial title championship in 2003 and 2005 and boasts a palmares that includes victories San Dimas Stage Race, Redlands Bicycle Classic, Tour de Toona, Colorado Classic Stage Race, Nature Valley Grand Prix, Tour de Beauce, Cascade Cycling Classic, Joe Martin Stage Race, Tour of the Gila and the Mt. Hood Cycling Classic. He has competed under US-based teams Navigators Insurance, Toyota-United Pro, Rock Racing and UnitedHealthcare.

    "Chris is a fierce competitor every time he lines up," says team manager, Glen Mitchell in a press release. "He is experienced and very motivated. His presence on Team Bissell for 2011 is exciting news."