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Second Edition Cycling News, Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Date published:
August 31, 2010, 1:00 BST
  • Gianetti looking for classics leader for Geox

    The two Swiss riders of Footon-Servetto-Fuji, David Vitoria and Noé Gianetti (l-r), join Mauro Gianetti for a picture.
    Article published:
    August 31, 2010, 11:16 BST
    Barry Ryan

    Revamped squad taking shape for 2011

    Mauro Gianetti has announced that the new Geox team is looking for riders to bolster the team’s classics squad. After signing Denis Menchov and Carlos Sastre to lead his squad’s assault on the major tours, the Swiss team manager is keen to build a team that will be competitive throughout the season and on all terrains.

    “We are looking for riders for the classics,” Gianetti told Basque newspaper Diario Vasco. “If we get them, we’ll have a small specific group for those races.”

    Geox takes over sponsorship of the Footon-Servetto team in 2011 and Gianetti revealed further details of how the team will be revamped in its new guise. “It’s a long-term project for five or six years, with a high-level team that will have a budget of around ten million euro per season and will feature 28 riders,” Gianetti said.

    “So far we have signed thirteen riders and have been talking with another eight, so we have still have room to complete the team,” Gianetti continued.

    Gianetti was full of praise for the two grand tour leaders that he has signed. “Between them they have accumulated ten podium placings in the three big tours in the last ten years,” he said. “And more importantly, they are two riders with a good image.” Both Sastre and Menchov are favourites for the Vuelta that began on Saturday.

    The Geox manager was rather more reticent when asked if he had tried to sign Riccardo Riccò. Gianetti was Riccò’s manager at Saunier Duval when he was excluded from the 2008 Tour de France after a positive test for CERA.

    “Don’t ask me about Riccò,” he said. “I believe that in cycling now it’s not just wins that count, but also the image. I've taken Ricco to court in Italy and I hope to win. I think that's a suffiencet answer to your question."

    Riding in the major...

  • Nibali pleased with first Vuelta test

    Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas-Doimo), who finished fourth, after the stage
    Article published:
    August 31, 2010, 12:10 BST
    Barry Ryan

    Italian determined to take advantage of leadership opportunity

    Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas-Doimo) featured prominently on the short climb at the end of stage three of the Vuelta a España in Málaga and the Sicilian was pleased with his display afterwards. He crossed the line in 4th place, 15 seconds down on stage winner Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma-Lotto) but ahead of a number of his rivals for overall victory.

    “I’m happy with how I went, because I’m not exactly suited to explosive finishes like this one,” Nibali told La Gazzetta dello Sport . The sharp 1.8km climb of Castillo de Gibralfaro was similar to Amstel Gold Race’s Cauberg and was widely expected to suit Gilbert, but Nibali had also given notice of his capabilities on a short finishing climb in winning the Trofeo Melinda recently.

    Nibali’s acceleration on the early slopes of the final climb gave him an opportunity to assess the form of some of his rivals for the red jersey in Madrid and one rider in particular stood out for him. “I saw a good Denis Menchov right behind me,” he explained. “He’ll be a big rival.”

    Other riders who Nibali sees as potential candidates for overall victory include Ezequiel Mosquera (Xacobeo Galicia), Fränk Schleck (Saxo Bank) and Joaquin Rodriguez (Katusha), who was a close second on the stage. “Schleck hasn’t raced much so he’s fresh and has great motivation, while Filippo Pozzato has been speaking well of Rodriguez,” he warned.

    With a fine third place overall at the Giro d’Italia in May already in the bank, Nibali could be forgiven for feeling that he has already had a successful season but instead he is very much focused on a Vuelta that he sees as “the first great opportunity” of his career.

    After riding in defence of Ivan Basso at his home tour, Nibali holds the reins of the Liquigas team for the Vuelta and he is determined to make the most of it. “In the...

  • McEwen close to deciding team for 2011

    Robbie McEwen (Katusha) outsprinted Lucas Sebastian Haedo (Saxo Bank) and Allan Davis (Astana) for the win.
    Article published:
    August 31, 2010, 12:38 BST
    Stephen Farrand

    Australian considering offers from three teams

    Robbie McEwen is close to deciding which team he will ride for in 2011, his sixteenth and probably his last season as a professional rider.

    The 38 year-old Australian sprinter has told Cyclingnews he is considering an offer from his current team Katusha, but also has offers from two other teams.

    One of them could be the new Australian team that is in the process of applying for a ProTour licence for 2011 and is racing as the Australian Fly V team this year.

    McEwen refused to confirm who he is negotiating with but revealed that he knows the Australian team owner Chris White, rode with the team's directeur sportif Henk Vogels for several seasons and said would like to act as a mentor to other young sprinters.

    He said he would decide his future in the next two weeks.

    "I've got an offer from Katusha and I'm talking to two other teams this week. There were four or five teams that were interested in signing me but those are the three that fit best for me," McEwen told Cyclingnews from the presentation of the Paris-Brussels race, one of his goals for the end of the season and a race he has won five times during his illustrious career.

    "My name has been linked to the new Aussie team whenever it is mentioned. I've known Chris White for 20 years and know some of the staff and riders they've signed. It'd be great for Australian cycling if we had an Aussie team at the top level. It's about time. We’ve probably got enough good Aussie riders to actually fill two ProTour teams."

    "I don’t want to say the names of the teams I'm talking to because I'm not trying to play games with them. I don’t feel under pressure to sign a contract. It's about what is the right team for me from a sporting aspect, for my family and of course financially, because I'm a professional and do this for a living."

    "There are several teams looking to sign riders. As well as the Aussie team, there's Geox,...

  • Laurent Fignon passes away

    Laurent Fignon earlier this year.
    Article published:
    August 31, 2010, 13:04 BST
    Susan Westemeyer

    Former Tour de France winner loses fight against cancer

    Laurent Fignon has passed away after losing his fight against cancer, French television has announced.

    The Frenchman twice won the Tour de France during his career. He was 50.

    Fignon disclosed in June 2009 that he was undergoing treatment for cancer. It is said to have started in his intestine and then spread further through his body. He continued to commentate for French television on the Tour de France this summer despite a tumour affecting his vocal chords.

    “I don’t want to die at 50,” he said, earlier this summer. “All I know is that my cancer isn’t evolving. I’m still fighting.”

    Fignon won the Tour de France in 1983 and 1984, and a total of nine Tour stages. He also won the 1989 Giro d’Italia. He famously finished second in the Tour in 1989, famously losing to American Greg Lemond in 1989 by the slimmest margin ever in Tour history, a mere eight seconds.

    Fignon was diagnosed with cancer in May 2009, and he revealed his illness it shortly thereafter. He had been very open with the press and public about his illness. In his book, "Nous étions jeunes et insouciants" (We were young and carefree), he confessed to having doped during his career. Later, he discussed the possibility that his cancer was linked to his doping.

    Cyclingnews expresses its sympathy to Fignon’s family and will have more on this story later.

  • Hinault leads Fignon tributes

    Laurent Fignon is joined by Bernard Hinault on the podium
    Article published:
    August 31, 2010, 14:32 BST
    Barry Ryan

    Leblanc, Bernard, Gallopin, Boyer and Armstrong remember Tour champion

    Five-time Tour de France winner Bernard Hinault has led tributes to the late Laurent Fignon, who died today after a battle with cancer. He was fifty years old.

    “I’m moved, and everybody who loves cycling is moved,” Hinault told i-Télé. “We were teammates before being rivals, one against the other. He always fought to win. This time he fought and he has lost.”

    Hinault was Fignon’s team leader when he turned professional with the Renault-Elf team. After Hinault moved to La Vie Claire, he was defeated by his former protégé in a memorable duel at the 1984 Tour de France.

    The pair appeared on the podium at this year’s Tour de France after stage 15 to Bagneres-de-Luchon when Hinault presented Fignon with a special combativity prize in a poignant recognition of his battle with cancer.

    Former Tour de France director Jean-Marie Leblanc was similarly moved by Fignon’s passing and he was keen to pay tribute to the champion’s panache, on and off the bike.

    “Cycling is a big family and when a young former champion dies at just fifty years of age, it cannot but move us,” Leblanc said on the France Info radio station. “His death has come too quickly and too soon.”

    After an already promising start to his professional career, Fignon burst into the limelight with victory at the 1983 Tour de France. He repeated the feat the following year with one of the most stylish displays in Tour history and Leblanc’s fondest memories of Fignon the rider stem from this period.

    “His first Tour win in 1983 was a victory for youth, audacity and talent,” Leblanc said. “Fignon had character and panache. To win his first Tour at just 23 years of age was remarkable.”

    Leblanc also viewed the emergence of Fignon in the early 1980s as symbolic of a new era in cycling, with his victory over...

  • Laurent Fignon remembered

    Laurent Fignon leads eventual winner Greg LeMond at the 1989 Tour de France.
    Article published:
    August 31, 2010, 15:45 BST
    Susan Westemeyer

    A look back at the Frenchman's career

    Laurent Fignon stood out in the peloton during his 12-year career because of his distinctive round glasses, long ponytail and impulsive character.

    He was nick-named the professor but was one of the classiest riders in the sport and one of the true greats of French cycling. He raced with panache, often throwing caution to the wind and making surprise, audacious attacks. However he had the ability to back up his aggression and won both Grand Tours and major classics.

    Fignon turned pro in 1982 with the Renault-Elf-Gitane team after being spotted by former rider and legendary team manager, Cyrille Guimard. He won the Criterium International in his debut season and then stunned the cycling world by winning the Tour de France in 1983. It was his first ever Tour de France and he was just 22.

    He then repeated the victory in 1984, winning five stages along the way. In 1984 he also finished second overall in the Giro d'Italia, winning one stage and the mountains jersey. He also won the French national title that year. He also won Milan-San Remo in 1988 and 1989 and Fleche-Wallonne in 1986.

    The 1989 Tour de France

    Of course, Fignon will always be remembered for how he dramatically lost the 1989 Tour de France to Greg LeMond in the final time trial stage to Paris.

    He started the stage with a 50 second lead but LeMond won the time trial by 58 seconds to snatch his second of three career Tour wins.

    LeMond rode the time trial wearing an aerodynamic helmet and used aerobars. Fignon wore no helmet and his ponytail flapped on his back as he fought to hang onto the yellow jersey. He was also suffering from saddle sores, which he later claimed were the reason for his defeat.

    Fignon was never the same rider after his traumatic defeat and was also dogged by injury. He withdrew from the 1990 Tour, but went on to finish sixth in 1991, and 23rd overall in 1992, taking his ninth and last Tour de France...

  • Contador injures knee in training crash

    Article published:
    August 31, 2010, 16:27 BST
    Cycling News

    No serious damage for triple Tour winner

    Alberto Contador (Astana) injured his right knee in a training accident on Monday, according to the his official website. The triple Tour de France winner had already confirmed that he would not race again this season prior to the incident.

    Contador’s press officer Jacinto Vidarte explained that the rider lost control of his bike at a roundabout as the surface had been made slippery by an oil spillage. Contador was able to get back on his bike immediately and continue his ride. After feeling pain overnight, however, he underwent medical checks and a pronounced inflammation of the knee was diagnosed.

    Contador’s website reports that "a rest period will be required for observation of the injury." He is expected to be off the bike for a week, although it is understood that he had already scheduled a break from his training programme in the coming weeks before beginning preparations for 2011 in earnest. The Spaniard will ride for Bjarne Riis’ Sungard-Saxo Bank team next season.

  • LeMond remembers Fignon

    Laurent Fignon and Greg LeMond on the final podium in Paris at the 1989 Tour de France.
    Article published:
    August 31, 2010, 18:49 BST
    Stephen Farrand

    American recalls 1989 Tour de France rivalry

    Greg LeMond said he was shocked to hear of Laurent Fignon’s death, admitting he felt sorry for his Tour de France win in 1989, when LeMond snatched victory from Fignon in the final time trial to Paris. 

    Speaking on French news channel France 24, LeMond said: "It's a really sad day. I see him as one of the great riders who was hampered by injuries. He had a very, very big talent, much more than anyone recognised. For me he was one of the greater champions that was not recognised. He was more recognised for his loss in the Tour de France than for his two victories.”

    "We were teammates, competitors, but also friends. He was a great person, one of the few that I find was really true to himself. He didn’t have an ego. He really knew himself.” 

    “When he lost the Tour de France in 1989 it was one of the few victories where I felt we both won. The saddest thing for me is that for the rest of his career he said he won two Tours de France, when in reality we both could have won the race."

    He was one of the few riders who I really admired for his honesty and his frankness. We talked about a lot of different things outside of cycling and I was fortunate to really get to know him when my career stopped. I believe he was also one of the generation that was cut short in the early nineties because he was not able to fulfil the rest of his career. But he was a great rider.”

    Fignon won the Tour de France in 1983 and 1984. LeMond was a young but talented teammate at the Renault-Elf-Gitane team in 1984 and finished third overall in the Tour. They went their separate ways in 1985, with Lemond joining forces with Bernard Hinault at La Vie Claire.

    When LeMond recovered from a gunshot wound and returned to the Tour in 1989, Fignon emerged as his biggest rival in what would develop into arguably the best ever duel in Tour de France history. Fignon had won the Giro d’Italia in May...