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Second Edition Cycling News, Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Date published:
August 04, 2009, 1:00 BST
  • Kemp ready to fly in Geelong

    David Kemp (left) of Fly V Australia was working hard in the lead group nearring the final 15 kilometres of stage two.
    Article published:
    August 04, 2009, 4:10 BST
    Cycling News

    With Howard away, Fly V ready to play

    Fly V Australia’s David Kemp hopes to make the most of Leigh Howard’s absence from next week’s Tour of Geelong, with the Queenslander aiming to win the Victorian race. Kemp traded blows with Howard throughout last week’s Tour of Gippsland, eventually finishing second to the youngster.

    “He has a tremendous amount of class, that boy,” Kemp said. “To come second to him is pretty good and he has really helped sharpen me up for Geelong.

    “I was testing myself in Gippsland for Geelong,” added Kemp. “I don’t expect to win, but if I play it smart and have a little bit of luck I’ll have a red-hot crack.”

    The close racing with Howard last week has helped Kemp measure his own form, according to the rider. Howard will miss the second Scody Cup round as he contests the Tour of Ireland with the Jayco AIS team.

    “I am using Leigh Howard as a guide,” said Kemp. “Last year, he was beating me by bike lengths in the sprints but at Gippsland I got pretty close to him.

    “We’ve studied the Geelong course and I believe the format seems to suit me,” added Kemp.

    The Tour of Geelong is a new race on the Australian cycling scene, with the region having previously held the UCI Women’s World Cup and slated to host next year’s UCI World Road Championships.

    On 72 points Kemp trails Howard in the Scody Cup standings by 31 points. The series includes Gippsland, Geelong, the Tour of Murray River and the Tour of Tasmania.

    The 500km, five-day Geelong tour starts with a 48km criterium over 30 laps of a 1.6km circuit at North Shore Sports Club on Wednesday, August 12. Stages will also take in Lara, the You Yangs, Anakie, Gnarwarre, Ceres and Geelong’s Eastern Gardens before finishing with a 152km road race at Portarlington on Sunday, August 16.

  • France, Netherlands facing reduced worlds representation

    The Dutch national team lead the peloton at the 2007 World Championships in Germany.
    Article published:
    August 04, 2009, 5:33 BST
    Tomas Nilsson

    Pologne result to decide nine or six riders for cycling heavyweights

    Traditional top cycling nations like France and Netherlands risk being represented by only six riders each at this year’s UCI Road World Championships in Mendrisio, Switzerland. The size of the squads are decided from the world and continental rankings as of August 15 and with the deadline fast approaching, some of the sport’s biggest nations could be faced with reduced numbers at next month’s race.

    The top 10 nations on the world rankings are allowed nine riders in the men’s elite race. After the Clasica San Sebastian - and with only Tour de Pologne to be decided before August 15 - those nations are Spain, Italy, Australia, Germany, Russia, Luxembourg, Belgium, Great Britain, USA and Norway.

    Norway, in 10th position, has 332 points while the Czech Republic - thanks to Roman Kreuziger’s second place in San Sebastian - now has 321. Since there are no Czechs in the Tour de Pologne there will be no more points for the republic, meaning it will have to make do with only three riders since it is too far behind on the European ranking to get six riders.

    France’s gap to Norway is 31 points and for the Netherlands the gap is 49 points. The situation gets even more complicated for France and Norway, since only the five best riders of each nation in the individual ranking count in the nations ranking.

    This means that France needs at least an unlikely second place in Poland while the Netherlands could cover the gap with a fifth place or better. None of the French or Dutch riders in the Polish tour have taken any points in the world ranking so far though.

    The alternative way of qualifying for the nations outside the world’s top 10 is the various continental rankings. France and the Netherlands are in second and third position in the Europe Tour ranking and will be allowed six riders as a result.

    The news isn’t as good for the Czech Republic in 23rd place in the Europe Tour...

  • Schleck to race Vuelta despite crash

    Andy Schleck (Saxo Bank) looks content on the podium in Paris
    Article published:
    August 04, 2009, 12:00 BST
    Gregor Brown

    Tour de France runner-up OK after San Sebastián crash

    Andy Schleck, second in the Tour de France, said yesterday he will race the Vuelta a España stage race despite crashing Saturday in Spain's Clásica San Sebastián.

    "I won't be there to win, I am too young to fight for the classification in two three-week stage races in one year. Of course, if I am doing well I will try," Schleck told Cyclingnews.

    Luxembourg Champion Schleck fought for the win the Tour de France last month and finished second to Alberto Contador by 4'11". He won the best young rider classification for the second consecutive year. His brother Fränk finished fifth overall.

    A crash in the San Sebastián one-day race one week later nearly ruined Schleck's autumn plans. He slipped on painted road markings at kilometre 49 and slid off the road. He returned to the race, but later abandoned with back and knee pain.

    "My whole body was really sore the day after the crash, but I feel a lot better today," Schleck said yesterday. "My knee was swollen a bit. I was worried about my knee, but there is no problem now."

    Schleck skipped training on Sunday and resumed yesterday at home in Luxembourg. He said he felt a lot better and a doctor's visit was unnecessary.

    Schleck's next race will be his debut appearance in the Vuelta a España, August 29 to September 20. "I am riding it basically to prepare for the end of the season, Worlds and [Giro di] Lombardia."

    Schleck won the Liège-Bastogne-Liège one-day race this year and is a favourite for Worlds and Giro di Lombardia. He finished fourth in Italy's Giro di Lombardia one-day race two years ago. He pulled out of the 2007 and 2008 World Championships.

  • Sánchez to captain Euskaltel at Burgos

    Olympic road champion Samuel Sánchez (Eukaltel-Euskadi) waits for the start.
    Article published:
    August 04, 2009, 13:24 BST
    Richard Tyler

    Olympic champion prepares for Vuelta

    Euskaltel-Euskadi confirmed on Monday that Spaniard Samuel Sánchez will lead the Basque squad in the Vuelta a Burgos stage race, which starts in Spain on Wednesday. Euskaltel have named sprinter Koldo Fernández as the team's co-captain.

    Olympic Champion Sánchez will use the five-day race as part of his preparation for this year's Vuelta a España.  The Spanish Grand Tour begins in The Netherlands in four weeks.

    Sánchez finished third overall in the 2007 Vuelta a España, but skipped his home tour last year in favour of the Tour de France and Olympics. He finished sixth overall at the Tour before he won gold in the road race in Beijing.

    This year, Sánchez has taken a very different approach to the central section of his season.  He finished ninth overall at the Volta a Catalunya in May and then skipped most of June and July races.  He returned to top-level racing last Saturday at the Clásica San Sebastián and finished 50th. 

    The Vuelta a Burgos does not take in any of this year's Vuelta a España course, but it will provide good test for Sánchez. The last stage features five categorised climbs including the final hors catégorie ascent to Lagunes De Neila.

    Euskaltel-Euskadi's full team for the Vuelta a Burgos is Samuel Sánchez, Koldo Fernández de Larrea, Juan Jose Oroz, Gorka Verdugo, Iñaki Isasi, Mikel Nieve, Pablo Urtasun and Jorge Azanza.

  • Impey returns in Italy

    South African Daryl Impey (Barloworld)
    Article published:
    August 04, 2009, 13:29 BST
    Richard Tyler and Gregor Brown

    South African to race the Tour of Britain

    South African Daryl Impey will make his return to the professional peloton this week in Italy, after recovering from a serious crash at the Tour of Turkey in April.

    Team Barloworld scheduled Impey to race in two one-day races this week, GP Carnago on Thursday and the GP Camaiore on Saturday.

    Impey had facial injuries, broken teeth and two broken vertebrae from the crash on the final stage of the Tour of Turkey on April 19. The crash occurred when Rabobank Continental team's Theo Bos grabbed Impey's jersey in the approach to the final sprint.

    The International Cycling Union (UCI) suspended Bos for one month following the incident. Impey, who was wearing the leaders yellow jersey at the time, finished the stage and won the Tour but has not raced in Europe since.

    "He has been training in South Africa and raced a small race there, but has yet to do a lot of training," Barloworld Team Manager Claudio Corti told Cyclingnews on Tuesday.

    Impey travelled to Italy at the end of July and has been training with teammate, Robbie Hunter, near Como, Italy.

    On his personal website Impey said he was looking forward to his return this week and will use the races to gauge his form heading into the final months of the season, which will include the Tour of Britain.

    "I leave [Como] on Wednesday for Carnago. Then I [will] also race GP Camaiore, that is more suited towards the climbers, but a good day's 'race training' for sure and I want to use this race and see how I feel," he said.

    Claudio Corti said the team expects Impey to re-build his form ahead of the Tour of Britain, September 12 to 19.

    "We hope the can start to find condition by the end the end of the month," said Corti. "He will be racing the one-day races in Italy this month and then after that the Tour of Britain."

    Impey's had a slight disruption in his preparations this week because of recent changes to visa regulations between...

  • Flecha to leave Rabobank

    Juan Antonio Flecha will leave Rabobank after four seasons
    Article published:
    August 04, 2009, 13:58 BST
    Susan Westemeyer

    Team denies reports of downsize in 2010 - UPDATED

    Spaniard Juan Antonio Flecha turned down a new contract and is leaving Rabobank at the end of the current season, after four years with the Dutch squad.

    Rabobank's Press Officer Luuc Eisenga confirmed to Cyclingnews on Tuesday that 31-year-old Flecha would be departing at the end of the season.

    "We are sorry he is leaving and we are grateful for four years with him," said Eisenga. " He was always been very motivated and is a very special person. We understand that he would want a change and we wish him all the best."

    According to reports published in Belgian and Dutch newspapers Het Nieuwsblad and De Telegraaf, respectively, Flecha will join new British team, Sky. However, both Juan Antonio Flecha and Sky played down the reports on Tuesday.

    "I'm surprised, I have not spoken with those newspapers," Flecha told Cyclingnews. "At this time I can't comment on it, I need to first work with the team [Rabobank]."

    "I can't confirm anything until September 1," said Sky team manager Scott Sunderland when speaking to Cyclingnews on Tuesday morning. "To do so would risk fines of up to 10,000 euro per rider."

    Flecha won once in his time at the Dutch team Rabobank, at the 2008 Circuit Franco-Belge. He is a consistent performer in the Spring Classics and has had three top ten finishes at Paris-Roubaix in the last four years. He was second in the 2007 edition of the French Classic.

    Eisenga also played down a report in Het Nieuwsblad that said Rabobank will downsize its rider roster in the coming season. The report stated that Rabobank will only have 26 riders instead of 30 for the 2010 season. However, Eisenga said that the team has already confirmed a most of its riders for next season.

    "If it gets smaller then it will only be by a little," he said. "The team already have over 25 contracts signed for the coming year."

  • Soler to mark return at Burgos

    Mauricio Soler (Barloworld)
    Article published:
    August 04, 2009, 15:41 BST
    Richard Tyler

    Geraint Thomas also coming back from injury

    Former winner of the Vuelta a Burgos, Juan Mauricio Soler, will return to the Spanish race that begins on Wednesday. The race will be the first for the Barloworld rider since abandoning the Giro d'Italia on May 25.

    Soler won the general classification of the Vuelta a Burgos in 2007 ahead of Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne). Soler's overall victory included a stage win at the top of the hors category Lagunas de Neila.

    With this year's race finishing on top of the Lagunas de Neila on Sunday, Barloworld say they expect the final stage to test Soler's recovery from tendonitis in his knee.

    South African Robbie Hunter will represent the team in the sprints on the opening three stages. Chris Froome and compatriot Geraint Thomas will also start for the team in Oña, Spain, on Wednesday.

    Like Soler, Thomas' season has also been disrupted by injury. The Welshman returned at the Brixia Tour last week, after three months out with a broken wrist. He told WalesOnline last week that he hopes to have a strong finish to the season after what has been a tough year for the 23-year-old.

    "I can feel the form coming," he said. "I've got the Tour of Britain and some one-day races as well. It’s been a frustrating year but I hope to finish it on a high. I want my first victory on the road as a pro and I hope to be selected for September’s world road championships in Switzerland."

    The full Barloworld roster for the Vuelta a Burgos will be: Juan Mauricio Soler, Chris Froome, Geraint Thomas, Robbie Hunter, Patrick Calcagni, Felix Cardenas, Michele Merlo and Gianpaolo Cheula.

  • Astarloza certain of innocence

    Mikel Astarloza speaks to the press about his alleged dopnig positive.
    Article published:
    August 04, 2009, 17:02 BST
    Gregor Brown

    Positive EPO control, but Spaniard maintains innocence

    Spaniard Mikel Astarloza held a press conference on Tuesday in San Sebastián, Spain, where he maintained his innocence in response to the International Cycling Union's (UCI) announcement that he doped with blood booster Erythropoietin (EPO).

    "I know that I have not taken anything prohibited, and categorically say: 'I've never taken anything forbidden," said Astarloza.

    He failed a World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) doping control June 26. The positive control came 25 days before he won the Tour de France's mountain stage to Bourg-Saint-Maurice. The UCI received WADA's report last Thursday and announced the provisional suspension one day later.

    "I received a call from the UCI and I thought it was a joke," he continued. "I was surprised because I know I did nothing. If I had taken something I would have given a wrong address [to the controllers]."

    Spanish sports daily Marca reports that Astarloza's team, Euskaltel-Euskadi, continues to support its rider and will wait for the counter-analysis of his urine sample.

    The UCI's suspension stands until a Spanish Cycling Federation (RFEC) panel meets to examine the results. It hasn't related a date for the meeting.

    Astarloza said with UCI's biological passport for tracking blood values it is "madness and suicide" to cheat.

    He won the Tour de France's stage 16 from a small escape group that finished less than a minute ahead of race leader, Alberto Contador. Frenchman Sandy Casar (Française des Jeux) was also part of Astarloza's group and finished second.