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.
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...
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...
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...
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...
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 winnerJuan 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...
"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.
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.