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Second Edition Cycling News, Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Date published:
September 27, 2011, 21:00
  • Van den Broeck leads Omega Pharma - Lotto at Tour of Beijing

    Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Omega Pharma Lotto)
    Article published:
    September 27, 2011, 08:43
    Cycling News

    Belgian needs strong time trial performance

    Better suited to the high mountain passes of Europe, Jurgen Van den Broeck knows that he'll need a strong opening stage time trial if he is to be any hope of winning the inaugural Tour of Beijing next month.

    Van den Broeck will lead the Omega Pharma - Lotto team at the Wednesday 5th to Sunday 9th October race - the first UCI WorldTour event to be held in Asia.

    After entering the Tour de France with high hopes of an overall victory this year, Van den Broeck was forced to abandon on stage nine after suffering a sickening crash, which left him with a fractured shoulder and broken ribs. The 28-year-old Belgian recovered in time for the Vuelta a España, finishing eighth overall.

    Van den Broeck will be looking to carry that late-season form into Beijing. With the Tour of Beijing not featuring the steep mountains he excels at, Van den Broeck knows he will have to rediscover the form that won him the 2001 junior time trial world championship if he is to win overall in China.

    "I hope my form will be good for this race. After my crash during the Tour de France, I worked hard for the Vuelta. It was good for me to do the Vuelta after my crash. Normally I'm in good form for my last races of the season," Van den Broeck said.

    "It's the first time I will race in China. It's good for cycling that we can race in China – Asia is a big continent and will open many possibilities for the future of the sport."

    Sport Director Michiel Elijzen will be chasing an overall win with Van den Broeck, but says Omega Pharma - Lotto will enter a balanced team with multiple options for stage wins.

    "I hope we will do well in the general classification with Jurgen Van den Broeck," Elijzen said.

    "And I hope we will have the chance of winning a stage with one of our riders. I think we have an all-round team that is capable of competing in every stage for the win."

    Supporting Van den Broeck will be 2011 Giro d'Italia stage winner Bert De Clercq, 2010 junior Paris-Roubaix runner-up Jens Debusschere, 2005 Paris-Nice stage winner Vicente Reynés, sprinter Kenny Dehaes and UCI WorldTour season debutant Maarten Neyens.

    Team tactics could change after the opening stage time trial depending on results, with two time trial specialists, 2008 Australian time trial champion Adam Hansen and 2003 Belgian under-23 time trial champion Olivier Kaisen, also included in the squad.

    Kaisen, who recently represented Belgium at the UCI Road World Championships in Copenhagen, Denmark, is another rider who will be looking to continue his promising end-of-season form.

    "I finished the Tour of Spain in good form, then I did two races to prepare for the world championship. I hope my good form will stay until the Tour of Beijing to do a good race there," Kaisen said.

    The Omega Pharma - Lotto team for the Tour of Beijing: Bart De Clercq, Jens Debusschere, Kenny Dehaes, Adam Hansen, Olivier Kaisen, Maarten Neyens, Vicente Reynés, Jurgen Van Den Broeck.

  • McQuaid warns riders against micro-dosing

    UCI President Pat McQuaid
    Article published:
    September 27, 2011, 10:40
    Daniel Benson

    UCI President defends the biological passport programme

    Pat McQuaid has told Cyclingnews that the lack of new passport cases opened by the UCI in the last 18 months has nothing to do with financial costs or legal bills caused by the first batch of cases. The UCI President has also warned riders against using micro-dosing techniques, insisting they will eventually be caught.

    In June of 2009 the first cases were launched, involving Pietro Caucchioli, Ricardo Serrano, Igor Astarloa, Ruben Lobato Elvira and Francesco De Bonis. Franco Pellizotti Jesus Rosendo Prado and Tadej Valjavec were announced just under a year later.

    Since then the UCI has remained tight lipped on any potential new cases but issued a press release in August 2011 stating that it is still in the process of investigating two riders who showed abnormal blood passport values.

    "There could be discussions going on for six, seven, eight, nine or ten people all at once at on an ongoing basis," McQuaid told Cyclingnews during the recent UCI World Championships.

    "We could be looking for documentation or more information but that doesn't determine if cases are coming," he said, also denying that the UCI had stated in August that that they were investigating two cases.

    A number of the early cases were appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS). The most high profile case was that of Pellizotti. He finished third overall in the 2009 Giro d’Italia and won the climber’s jersey at the Tour de France. He was eventually cleared by the Italian national anti-doping court (TNA), only for the UCI to stump up the funds to appeal to CAS. They eventually won the appeal and Pellizotti was banned for two years. Tadej Valjavec also had a similar experience and was initially cleared by the Slovenian agency (NAK) before being banned by CAS.

    According to McQuaid those legal battles have not drained the UCI's coffers and have had no effect on the governing body's resilience to open more cases.

    "We would never make a decision based on finance," he told Cyclingnews.

    "We've been talking about finance with the board of congress this week and in recent years the UCI has lost money because it went into legal proceedings but we're back in the black now. We don't make decisions based on legal costs; we take decisions based on whether we should open up procedures. At the very beginning we don't run from a decision on the chance that he might run to CAS."

    The question remains as to why there have been no new cases. Only those preferring to bury their heads in the sand would argue that the professional peloton is 100% clean.

    Asked why there had been no new cases in 2011 or since the former leader of the anti-doping fight, Anne Gripper, had left the UCI, McQuaid said: "That's because there are no new cases we can open up. The experts are learning more and more and maybe they need more information before they can make a decision."

    "No cases indicate that the health of the peloton is good and that there isn't a huge amount of doping going that the passport can show up."

    However McQuaid did acknowledge the existence of micro-dosing. This technique has been discussed almost since the creation of the biological passport and is believed to be one way in which riders can dope - although in small measure - and sail through the passport and anti-doping tests.

    McQuaid had stern words for riders who chose to go down that path.

    "There may be other elements of doping that don't show up in the passport. And there may be experts, or whatever you want to call them, who have found a way to minimise the chance of getting caught through the biological passport. But any athlete who works along those lines will eventually find themselves in trouble because most times an athlete gets caught because they make a mistake."

    "If someone wants to try and cheat by controlling the parameters of the biological passport, to keep them within certain or limits, at some stage he'll get caught."

  • Bettini confirmed as Italian coach despite poor results in Copenhagen

    Italian manager Paolo Bettini before the start of the race
    Article published:
    September 27, 2011, 12:41
    Cycling News

    Italians look to copy Great Britain and Australia

    The president of the Italian Cycling Federation Renato di Rocco has assured Paolo Bettini that his job is safe, despite the disappointing performance in Sunday’s elite men road race in Copenhagen.

    Bettini built the Italian team around sprinter Daniele Bennati but he and the other ‘Azzurri’ riders struggled in the chaotic finish and Bennati finished a lowly 14th place, behind Mark Cavendish. That was Italy’s worst result in the men’s road race since 1983, when Giuseppe Saronni finished 19th in Altenrheim, Switzerland.

    Italy finished sixth in the world championship medal table, winning just a gold medal thanks to Giorgia Bronzini in the women’s road race.
    2002 world champion Mario Cipollini criticised Bettini’s strategy and team selection but di Rocco confirmed that Bettini’s job is safe as Italy tries to catch up with other cycling nations.

    “We’ve got total faith in Bettini and all the other national coaches. We hope they can all go on to follow the same success and way of working of the women’s team, where a cross discipline concept has already proved successful,” Di Rocco said in an official statement.

    Di Rocco has been remodelling Italian cycling in recent months, trying to imitate the success of Great Britain and Australia and their combined use of the track and road racing to develop riders. Italian cycling has a strong tradition on the road but is expected to qualify just one rider for the track at the London 2012 Olympics. Di Rocco has also pushed through new federation rules that stop riders who have been suspended for doping from representing Italy. This meant that Alessandro Petacchi was not selected for the Copenhagen world championships and forced Bettini to opt for younger, less experienced riders.

    “We knew that the unanimous decision of the Federal Council regarding the new mentality and new methods would need time. Nobody thought the results would be immediate,” Di Rocco said.

    “The results of the world championships indicate we’re in a transition phase. Even the errors and evident limitations the men’s road race showed will help us make a cultural shift in our activities, helping the integration between different disciplines as other, more advanced countries have done.”

  • 2012 Giro d’Italia to have a more balanced route

    Alberto Contador has won the Giro d'Italia for the second time in his career.
    Article published:
    September 27, 2011, 15:16
    Stephen Farrand

    New race director Michele Acquarone reveals his plans

    The new director of the Giro d’Italia has revealed that the 2012 edition of the race will have an easier route and include fewer transfers, after this year’s testing route sparked tension, controversy and even protests by the riders and teams.

    The official route presentation for the 2012 ‘Corsa Rosa’ will be held on Sunday October 16, the day after the Tour of Lombardy and two days before the route of the 2012 Tour de France is unveiled in Paris.

    Following the problems and disputes at this year’s race, Angelo Zomegnan has been replaced by Michele Acquarone as race director for RCS Sport, the Milan-based media company that owns the race and a number of magazines and newspaper, including Gazzetta dello Sport. He has retained most of the key staff that organise the race and is building a more harmonious team.

    The 95th edition of the Giro d’Italia will begin in Denmark before a transfer back to Italy for the rest of the three-week race. The route is likely to include mountain stages to Campitello Matese in the south, Abetone in the central Apennines and possibly a dirt road stage that finishes in the centre of Siena. The big mountain finish could be in Cervinia, in the Alps, before the final week in the Dolomites. The Giro is expected to finish in Milan with a time trial.

    “My ideal Giro would be like the 2010 race: it was a hard Giro, as a Grand Tour has to be, but it was balanced. This year’s race wasn’t,” Acquarone recently told Italian magazine Tuttobici.

    “This year’s race was difficult right from the start. The transfers were very complicated and you could feel the tension at the start in Turin. The tragic death of Wouter Weylandt was a terrible moment and naturally overshadowed the rest of the race. I think we handled it all well but it was a traumatic experience.”

    The new man in charge

    Acquarone comes from a marketing background, He was born in San Remo, where he grow up watching the finish of the race every year; he then worked as a waiter in New York, a tennis coach and even as a DJ for a radio station before studying at the prestigious Bocconi University in Milan. He began working for RCS in 1999 and massively boosted income by selling DVDs and other items with editions of Gazzetta dello Sport.

    He has little direct experience of organising major races but knows he can count on the likes of Mauro Vegni and former riders Stefano Allocchio and Alessandro Gianetti to look after the technical details of the race.

    “Zomegnan is and remains a talented person but even without Angelo, RCS Sport can do a great job. It’s the team that is important,” Acquarone said.

    “When I was asked who can we replace Zomegnan with, I replied: “We might be a man down but we can work more and better. Trust me, the team is in place.

    “I think Angelo did a great job at rebuilding the prestige and importance of Italian cycling. He made people listen. It’ll be difficult for me to follow in his footsteps. However perhaps one thing I have to accuse him of is that he made too many enemies. I prefer to get on with people and negotiate. I don’t think that life is just black and white. Most of the time it’s different shades of grey. Of course I’m not afraid to make decisions.”

    Acquarone knows that one of his biggest problems in 2012 will be attracting high profile riders to the Giro d’Italia. New world champion Mark Cavendish loves the Giro but this year’s winner Alberto Contador has already said he will not be back.

    “We’re not underestimating the problem and we’ll try to secure as good as a cast as possible,” he said. “The Tour is the Tour but the Giro has its own history and appeal. The Tour is the race in everyone’s minds but the Giro is the race in everyone’s heart.”

  • Cavendish to ride Paris-Tours

    Mark Cavendish was happy to pull on the rainbow jersey
    Article published:
    September 27, 2011, 16:10
    Stephen Farrand

    Briton to show off his rainbow jersey in the sprinter’s classic

    The organisers of Paris-Tours have announced that new world champion Mark Cavendish will ride the Paris-Tours one-day Classic on Sunday October 9.

    It is unclear if Paris-Tours will be Cavendish’s first race wearing the rainbow jersey but it seems likely. The Tour of Beijing is the only major race on the calendar in the coming weeks but ends on the same day as Paris-Tours. Gazzetta dello Sport hinted on Tuesday that Cavendish may also ride the Giro del Piemonte (October 13) and then the Giro di Lombardia (October 15) but this has still to be confirmed.

    ASO revealed the names of the 25 teams and leading riders that will take part in the race on October 9. Cavendish is set to line-up with HTC-Highroad teammates Bernhard Eisel, John Degenkolb and Matt Goss – the rider he beat to win the world title in Copenhagen.

    ASO has suggested that Cavendish could become the first ever world champion to win the sprint on the Avenue de Grammont finish. Tom Boonen and Oscar Freire both failed to win in the rainbow jersey in 2005 and 2006.

    Freire could be one of Cavendish’s biggest rivals in the expected sprint finish this year. He won Paris-Tours in 2010, beating Angelo Furlan and Gert Steegmans. Philippe Gilbert, winner in 2008 and 2009, is also named as the team leader for Omega Pharma-Lotto, while Taylor Phinney (BMC), Thor Hushovd (Garmin-Cervelo), Robbie McEwen (RadioShack), Thomas Voeckler (Europcar) Daniele Bennati (Leopard Trek), Bradley Wiggins (Team Sky) and Romain Feillu (Vacansoleil-DCM) are all listed on the provisional start list.

    14 ProTeams and 11 Professional Continental teams have been invited to the race. Team Type 1 has secured a place, with Laszlo Bodrogi and Alexandre Efimkin named as team leaders.

    This year’s race will be the 105th edition of Paris-Tours.

  • Geox in talks with Cobo and Freire

    Juan Jose Cobo (Geox-TMC) celebrates his Vuelta a Espana triumph.
    Article published:
    September 27, 2011, 17:39
    Peter Cossins

    Veteran sprinter is being lined up if Vuelta winner opts to leave

    As they attempt to boost their ranking status with the aim of gaining automatic entry to all of the major events on the calendar next season, Geox-TMC is negotiating with Vuelta winner Juan José Cobo and three-time world champion Oscar Freire. Both riders have received offers from other squads, but the Geox team management are hoping that they may be able to seal deals with both Spanish riders, having had some budget freed up following the retirement of Carlos Sastre.

    Vuelta champion Cobo has spent all but one season with the set-up run by Geox team manager Mauro Gianetti, and reports in Spain suggest that he is keen to stick with his current outfit and reject offers he's received from three other top-level teams. One Spanish paper describes an offer Cobo has reportedly received from Astana, another team struggling to accumulate ranking points, as "un-turndownable", but Geox are hoping Cobo can be tempted into rejecting it.

    "It's clear that Juanjo is the rider that we're most interesting in re-signing," Geox DS Joxean Fernández Matxin told El Diario Vasco. "He's told us that all being equal and even if there is a little bit less money on the table he will stay here, but we will have to see how much a little less equates to. His victory at the Vuelta has raised his price considerably. But on a personal level it's clear that he wants to stay with us."

    It is rumoured that Geox picked up Cobo on a very low deal at the end of last season, when he failed to produce any results at all for Caisse d'Epargne. However, Matxin said that "in spite of what has been said in some places, the contract that he had with us is not so low, and in any case it was a contract befitting a rider who, because of a variety of problems, had had a year with hardly any racing or even training."

    Matxin also confirmed that Gianetti has been negotiating with Freire's brother and manager, Antonio. "Mauro is dealing with that issue himself. I know that they have been talking, but I can't confirm whether Mauro has made an offer," said Matxin.

    "He is certainly a rider who interests us. And of course he's going to interest us! Everyone knows that I've always had a liking for Freire. By signing him we would be taking on a great rider and in addition we would be getting some points. For us the most important thing is to be in the WorldTour and to do this we need to have riders with points. I think that we will have them but for the moment we have to wait," said Matxin, who added that the team have a year left on their deal with Geox, two with TMC and one with bike supplier Fuji.

    Freire's "home" newspaper, Cantabria's El Diario Montañes, suggests that Freire is most likely to ride with Rabobank for one more year before retiring. However, it reports that the Spaniard's relationship with the Dutch team is not as good as it had been following their signing of Mark Renshaw and what Freire perceives as their lack of support for him in certain races this season. Freire was linked with a move to Movistar prior to the Worlds, but the offer he received was "insufficient".

  • Fränk Schleck calls an end to 2011 season

    Luxembourg champion Frank Schleck (Leopard Trek)
    Article published:
    September 27, 2011, 20:05
    Cycling News

    Knee injury from Worlds crash puts Luxembourger off his bike

    A crash during the UCI road world championship race has spelled the end of Fränk Schleck's season. The Leopard Trek rider crashed midway through the elite men's road race, and pulled out of the event with a suspected fractured hand.

    "The crash happened in the front of the peloton," said Schleck. "At first, I thought I would be able to avoid hitting the asphalt, but riders came sliding in from behind and took me down. I immediately felt a harsh pain in my right hand and had to abandon the race."

    While examinations found no fractures in his hand, Schleck's right knee became swollen. An MRI today showed a contusion to the knee and fluid around the ligaments, leading the team's medical staff to recommend 10 days off the bike.

    Schleck will call an end to his season rather than complete the upcoming Italian races on his original calendar.

    He ends the 2011 season with two victories - a stage and the overall at the Critérium International and his national road race championship in addition to his third place in the Tour de France.

  • 2012 WorldTour race calendar confirmed

    The Tour de France peloton is about to roll out of Cambrai
    Article published:
    September 27, 2011, 21:00
    Cycling News

    Summer races moved to avoid a clash with the London Olympics

    The International Cycling Union (UCI) has tweaked the 2012 WorldTour calendar to avoid a clash with the road events at the London Olympic Games.

    Next season, the Tour de France will be held between June 30-July 22 - a week earlier than usual. The men’s Olympic road race is on Saturday July 28, with the men’s time trial on the following Wednesday, August 1.

    To avoid overlapping with the Olympics, the Tour of Poland has been moved forward to July 10-16, and so will be held during the Tour de France. The Eneco Tour will be held between August 6-12, with the Clasica Ciclista San Sebastian on Tuesday August 14. The Vuelta a Espana begins just a few days later on August 18.

    The 2012 WorldTour begins with the Tour Down Under in Australia between January 17-22. It ends with the Giro di Lombardia in Italy on October 20.

    The 2012 WorldTour calendar:

    1/17/2012 - 1/22/2012 Tour Down Under    
    3/4/2012 - 3/11/2012 Paris - Nice    
    3/7/2012 - 3/13/2012 Tirreno-Adriatico    
    3/17/2012 Milano-Sanremo    
    3/19/2012 - 3/25/2012 Volta Ciclista a Catalunya    
    3/23/2012 E3 Prijs Vlaanderen - Harelbeke    
    3/25/2012 Gent - Wevelgem    
    4/1/2012 Ronde van Vlaanderen / Tour des Flandres    
    4/2/2012 - 4/7/2012 Vuelta Ciclista al Pais Vasco    
    4/8/2012 Paris - Roubaix    
    4/15/2012 Amstel Gold Race    
    4/18/2012 La Flèche Wallonne    
    4/22/2012 Liège - Bastogne - Liège    
    4/24/2012 - 4/29/2012 Tour de Romandie    
    5/5/2012 - 5/27/2012 Giro d'Italia    
    6/3/2012 - 6/10/2012 Critérium du Dauphiné    
    6/9/2012 - 6/17/2012 Tour de Suisse    
    6/30/2012 - 7/22/2012 Tour de France    
    7/10/2012 - 7/16/2012 Tour de Pologne    
    8/6/2012 - 8/12/2012 Eneco Tour    
    8/14/2012 Clasica Ciclista San Sebastian    
    8/18/2012 - 9/9/2012 Vuelta a España    
    8/19/2012 Vattenfall Cyclassics    
    8/26/2012 GP Ouest France - Plouay    
    9/7/2012 Grand Prix Cycliste de Québec    
    9/9/2012 Grand Prix Cycliste de Montréal    
    10/10/2012 - 10/14/2012 Tour of Beijing    
    10/20/2012 Il Lombardia