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Second Edition Cycling News, Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Date published:
December 07, 2010, 0:00 GMT
  • Sella and Savio headline Tour de Langkawi line-up

    Gianni Savio and his Androni team in Melaka, Malaysia.
    Article published:
    December 07, 2010, 7:28 GMT
    Cycling News

    Androni squad determined to continue winning in Malaysia

    After missing this year's edition, Gianni Savio's Androni team will return to the Tour de Langkawi, from January 23 to February 1 next year, boasting talented climber Emanuele Sella on its roster.

    "It was a disappointment of my 2010 cycling season to not be able to show up in Malaysia as much as I would have missed attending the races in Colombia," said Savio.

    He'll be bringing the controversial Sella to Malaysia; Savio views the signing as similar to that of countryman Michele Scarponi, who was also implicated in doping and performed well whilst a member of the Androni-Giocattoli team.

    "We hope that he can follow the path of Michele Scarponi who is joining Lampre for next year after finishing fourth at the Giro d'Italia with us," explained Savio. "Both have encountered problems with doping, they have paid and we consider it fair to give them a second chance.

    "We'll [also] bring two neo-professionals: Antonio Santoro from Italy and Yonnatta Monsalve from Venezuela. Those two riders bring me back to the 1989 when I gave a chance to Andrea Tafi and Leonardo Sierra, also an Italian and a Venezuelan who reached the highest performances in cycling later on."

    Santoro and Monsalve are considered by many as climbers to watch in the future who are making their first steps into the professional ranks - the 21-year-old Santoro weighs just 53kg and stands 1.65m tall. "Professional cycling is a new world for me," said Santoro. "I'll discover it with a lot of respect. A win for my debut would almost be too much."

    Savio's team has been a mainstay of the Tour de Langkawi since the event's inception; its first appearance came in 2000 with the Colombian-registered Aguardiente-Nectar team. It didn't take them long to find success as Jamie Drew claimed the second stage, a day after the inaugural prologue was won by Floyd Landis.

    Fortunato Baliani's third place overall in 2000 paved the way for the Selle Italia team that won...

  • Nuyens to skip Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne

    Belgium's Nick Nuyens (Rabobank)
    Article published:
    December 07, 2010, 9:59 GMT
    Cycling News

    Hoping for better health and better luck in 2011 campaign

    Nick Nuyens will skip the opening weekend of Belgian races in 2011 after the Saxo Bank-SunGard newcomer was persuaded by Bjarne Riis to ease himself into the new season.

    The 30-year-old will skip the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad (February 27) and Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne the next day.

    "It is perhaps surprising that will not ride the opening weekend," Nuyens told Sporza. "With this we avoid risks such as illness. Last year was a bad experience." This spring the Belgian suffered from injuries and illness, and barely rode in the Classics.

    "Riis understands this is painful for me, but I opted for a fresh start and I just decided to follow Riis. We'll see where it takes me."

    After two years with Rabobank, Nuyens is making a new start with Saxo Bank-SunGard, but the team has had so many new faces, that it too is making a new start.

    “They are not starting from scratch, but they do want change. There are not only many new riders, but the framework has also been updated."

    There is no doubt for Nuyens that Riis is firmly in charge of things. "A man with much charisma," said Nuyens. "When he takes the floor, it is silent.”

    The team has just finished its first training camp in Fuertaventura. They not only windsurfed and kite surfed, but also had “three Danish circus performers who came over and taught us some tricks, like a human pyramid."

    "We also had a lot of fun. You must leave your intellect out and get to know each other best,” he continued. “Actually you stand there with a lot of adults being silly, but one way or another it creates a bond. It was very nice."


  • Sergeant pacifies speculation Gilbert could ride for Tour de France title

    Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma - Lotto) with his winner's trophy.
    Article published:
    December 07, 2010, 10:36 GMT
    Cycling News

    Omega Pharma-Lotto manager looks optimistically to upcoming season

    Marc Sergeant has dampened speculation Philippe Gilbert could target the yellow jersey in the Tour de France one day. The Omega Pharma Lotto manager was reacting to media hype surrounding his Classics star, who after a successful season has been mooted as a grand tour contender for the future.

    "We’ve talked about it. I think in the first place he meant that he would try and aim at the Vuelta or Giro,” Sergeant told Cyclingnews.

    "I know that it could be too hard to try at the Tour de France where the riders there are at the highest level and he was certainly talking about the future, not 2011. Let's say he wins Amstel again and perhaps one day the Tour of Flanders, then he can turn around and say that he’s proved he’s one of the best one-day riders and now he’s going to try and tackle something different but we have to wait and see,” Sergeant explained.

    Gilbert had his most successful year to date, winning Amstel, Lombardia, two stages in the Vuelta and the Giro del Piemonte.

    "He has a great background. His body has developed in the right direction but if he really goes for GC he’s going to lose a lot of qualities he has now. He has to lose four or five kilos at least. But it’s just an ambition now and it’s not something he’s focussed on at the moment,” Sergeant continued.

    Sergeant will start next season with arguably his strongest squad since the days of Cadel Evans and Robbie McEwen were on the team, having signed sprinter Andre Greipel to form a three-pronged attack with Gilbert and Tour revelation Jurgen Van den Broeck.

    In somewhat of a power shift, Omega now looks – on paper at least – to be the strongest team in Belgian cycling after Quick Step lost a number of riders in the off-season; however, Sergeant believes that the health of Belgian cycling is down to the rivalry between the two teams and hopes that Patrick Lefevere...

  • Lefevere refuses to pay Steegmans's "ransom to RadioShack"

    Gert Steegmans (RadioShack) speaks about his collarbone injury at a press conference in Waregem, Belgium.
    Article published:
    December 07, 2010, 12:00 GMT
    Cycling News

    Team manager wouldn't say no to a return

    Patrick Lefevere has not ruled out the possibility of Gert Steegmans returning to Quick Step, but is unwilling to buy out his contract or pay any kind of a transfer fee.

    “There is no way I would pay even one Euro ransom to RadioShack for him to return,” the team manager told the Gazet van Antwerpen.

    Steegmans rode for Quick Step from 2007 to 2008. He then rode a half-season with Team Katusha before his contract was dissolved. He was with RadioShack this year, a move which both sides agreed did not work out.

    RadioShack has confirmed that he may break his contract, which still has a year to run, and leave the US-based team. Team spokesman Philippe Maertens said yesterday that wherever Steegmans went, “RadioShack will have to make a deal, since he has a contract with us.”

    Money aside, Lefevere would still welcome Steegmans back. “I wouldn’t say no. I have some good memories of Gert's time with us.”

    "If I remember correctly, Steegman's was with us for some pretty good victories. He then opted for the big money, but I don't blame him.”

    Steegmans had eight wins in each of his two years with Quick Step, including a Tour de France stage each year. In 2009 with Katusha he had two wins before stopping in June, and this year he had no victories.


  • Magni celebrates his 90th birthday

    Fiorenzo Magni
    Article published:
    December 07, 2010, 14:25 GMT
    Stephen Farrand

    Italian great looks back on his career

    Fiorenzo Magni turns 90 today and the Italian is rightly celebrated as one of the greats of the post war era, when cycling was the biggest sport in Europe.

    Fausto Coppi and Gino Bartali were the brightest stars of the so-called golden era in Italy but Magni was known as the ‘third man', who still managed to win the Giro d'Italia in 1948, 1950 and 1951 and who took a hat trick of victories at the Tour of Flanders between 1949 and 1951.

    Magni won with daring attacks on descents and fought to finish second in the 1956 Giro d'Italia despite riding with a broken collarbone. The photograph of him pulling on an inner tube attached to his handlebars perfectly represents his courage.

    He also played a vital role in the development of the sport. He helped force through the introduction of non-cycling sponsors, creating the Nivea team in 1954. After a successful business career he is now the patron of the Ghisallo Cycling museum not far from his home in Monza and is as strong and sharp as when he was nick-named the Lion of Flanders.

    "I'm proud to have reached 90 in good health but it does feel strange to go to an event and realise I'm the oldest," he said in an in interview with the Tuttobiciweb website. "It makes me think about how much time I've got left but I'm happy and satisfied with life, even if I hope to reach 100."

    "I've faced some difficult moments in life but I've always tried to look on the bright side. Cycling taught me to face problems with optimism because that's what I did during my career."

    Speaking to Gazzetta dello Sport, Magni said trying to compete against Coppi and Bartali taught him a vital lesson in life.

    "Nobody ever gave me anything. If anything I was lucky to go up against those two because otherwise I'd never had learnt how to lose. It's important because like in life and in cycling, you lose a lot more than you win," he said.

    Three is the perfect...

  • Van den Broeck extends with Omega Pharma-Lotto

    Jurgen Van den Broeck (Omega Pharma-Lotto)
    Article published:
    December 07, 2010, 15:35 GMT
    Cycling News

    Tour's fifth place finisher signs with Belgian team through 2013

    Jurgen Van den Broeck has extended his contract with Omega Pharma-Lotto for another two years, and will now remain with the Belgian ProTeam through 2013.

    "He will definitely stay with us through 2013," team manger Marc Sergeant told the Belgian newspaper La Dernière Heure. "That's very good news for us because we can work long term.

    "We expect that Jurgen will confirm his excellent Tour from this year. I know that he talks about the top ten, but we are ambitious," Sergeant said. "We have confidence in him and he will have a stronger team around him."

    The 27-year-old Belgian had his best season this year, finishing fifth overall in the Tour de France, fourth in the Critérium du Dauphiné and second in the Ruta del Sol.

    He turned pro in 2004 with the US Postal team and remained with the organization under the Discovery Channel banner for two more years. Van den Broeck then joined Predictor-Lotto in 2007 and has stayed on the Belgian squad ever since.

    Van den Broeck is said to have received offers from other teams, most notably Team Saxo Bank-SunGard. Bjarne Riis was said to be interested in signing Van den Broeck as "Plan B" if Alberto Contador were suspended for doping.

  • Contador decision could come “any day”, attorney says

    Article published:
    December 07, 2010, 16:44 GMT
    Cycling News

    Defence based on those of Gasquet and Ovtcharov, of unintentional doping

    The decision in Alberto Contador's doping case could be handed down by the Spanish cycling federation “any day”, according to the rider's lawyer. Andy Ramos also said that his defence is based upon that of several other athletes who avoided bans after claiming they did not voluntarily use doping products.

    Ramos told the AP news agency that the decision could be handed down soon. There has been speculation that the Real Federacion Espanola de Ciclismo could rule before Christmas, but other sources have said that the disciplinary committee will need several months to read the file.

    Contador tested positive for Clenbuterol on the second rest day of the Tour de France, and his defence is that he ingested it inadvertently through eating contaminated meat.

    “Not one of the scientists we have worked with has said it couldn’t have been anything but contamination,” Ramos told the AP in a telephone interview. “The levels are ridiculous—it couldn’t be anything else.”

    The attorneys have cited several other cases, in which athletes were not banned or received short bans after positive doping tests, when they showed how they could have been inadvertently doped.

    One of them is French tennis player Richard Gasquet, who tested positive for cocaine in March 2009. He claimed that the cocaine entered his body when he kissed a woman who had consumed the drug. He served a two and half month suspension that year.

    The World Anti-Doping Agency and the International Tennis Federation asked the Court of Arbitration for Sport to give him a two-year ban, but the court accepted the “kissing” claim.

    Perhaps more relevant to Contador's case is that of German table tennis player Dimitrij Ovtcharov, who also tested positive for Clenbuterol this fall. He was cleared of the charges after the German federation found that the test resulted from...

  • Vroomen says cycling must do more to attract and retain sponsors

    Gerard Vroomen, Cervelo co-founder.
    Article published:
    December 07, 2010, 17:10 GMT
    Daniel Benson

    Cervélo co-founder frustrated by uncertainty of entry in biggest races, doping

    Last week's Garmin-Cervélo camp in the Caymans was the start for a new professional team but also the final curtain call for the Cervélo TestTeam.

    Gerard Vroomen, co-owner of bicycle manufacturer Cervélo, was at the camp and watched as the likes of Thor Hushovd and Heinrich Haussler mingled with their new teammates. After two years of racing at the top of the sport with his own Cervélo TestTeam, Vroomen is sad to reach the end of the road and warned that cycling must to do more in order to make sure sponsors are encouraged into the sport.

    "One thing that's holding the sport back, and Jonathan Vaughters and Bob Stapleton have both commented on this, is the uncertainly that's involved in sponsoring a team. It's very hard to find a sponsor when you can not guarantee them that you'll be in the Tour de France," Vroomen told Cyclingnews.

    Vroomen pointed towards the example of Gianni Savio's Androni team, which made the top 17 teams for the season. Under current rules this would have guaranteed them entry in the world's biggest races in 2011. However, new rules enacted towards the end of season, and after initial ProTeam licence applications were requested by the UCI, meant that the Italian team missed out on a place in cycling's biggest league.

    "There was a rule this year that if you finished in top 17 in the world rankings then you can demand participation in all the ProTour races next year. Androni finished 17th, the finish photos from [Tour of] Lombardy weren't even dry and the message was that the rules might not be applied. So the whole year this team had fought to be top 17 and they raced in ways to do that," Vroomen said.

    "I don't think that's the way to offer certainty to teams and sponsors. I don't have a problem with rule changes but there needs to be a notice period. I read yesterday that the race organisers might be agreeing with the UCI on what to do next year, but it's December...