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Second Edition Cycling News, Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Date published:
September 06, 2011, 1:00 BST
  • Rabon signs for Omega Pharma-Quick Step

    Frantisek Rabon (HTC-Highroad)
    Article published:
    September 06, 2011, 6:15 BST
    Cycling News

    Fenn swaps An Post-Sean Kelly for Quick Step

    Frantisek Rabon has announced that he will ride for the revamped Omega Pharma-Quick Step squad for the next two seasons. The Czech rider had been searching for a team since it was confirmed in August that the HTC-Highroad squad would disband at the end of the season.

    “I received four concrete offers, and the one from Omega Pharma-Lotto was the best choice,” Rabon said, according to AFP.

    Rabon turned professional with T-Mobile in 2006 and remained on the squad following its metamorphosis into Highroad in 2008. A triple Czech time trial champion, Rabon’s biggest wins in the Highroad set-up were the prologue of the 2009 Tour de Romandie and the general classification at the Vuelta a Murcia in 2010.

    Rabon will join his fellow countryman Zdenek Stybar at Quick Step, a team which has been able to count on the backing of Czech businessman Zdenek Bakala since the beginning of this year.

    Another rider set to sign for Quick Step is Andy Fenn. A statement on the An Post-Sean Kelly team website said that Fenn “will join Pharma-Quick Step next season. Everyone at An Post wishes Andy all the best for the future.”

    Fenn won the junior Paris-Roubaix in 2008 and has enjoyed a solid season in the colours of the Irish Continental squad, taking a stage win at the Tour de Bretagne.


  • De Maar returns to UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling

    Marc de Maar (Quick Step) is champion of Curacao.
    Article published:
    September 06, 2011, 7:41 BST
    Cycling News

    Dutch Antilles rider reveals hankering for oatmeal raisin cookies

    After a season riding back in the European peloton, Marc de Maar has announced he is heading back to the United States to ride with Professional Continental outfit UnitedHealthcare on a two-year deal.

    "I am very happy to be rejoining the UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team," said de Maar in a team press release. "Since I left the Team in 2010, Mike [Tamayo], Rory [Sutherland] and I stayed in touch on and off. Team UnitedHealthcare is world class in everything they do. I had a great experience with them when I was a member and I knew that one day I would rejoin them. I am looking forward to the next two years and being part of their cycling family again. Plus, I really miss those US oatmeal raisin cookies!"

    The 27-year-old is currently racing the Vuelta a Espana and following his 10th placing on the 13th stage, says he is hoping to improve and perhaps win a stage as a tribute to his time with Quickstep.

    "My experience with Quickstep has been great and I will continue to work hard to finish the season strong," he said.

    De Maar won the 2011 Dutch Antilles time trial championship and UnitedHealthcare General Manager and Directeur Sportif, Mike Tamayo said that with a return to the US-based team, more wins can come his way.

    "We are very excited to have Marc back as part of our family," Tamayo said. "He is a true professional and a perfect fit for our Team, especially with his great attitude and his style of racing. We know we can get a lot out of him and motivate him to some victories."


  • Dennis swaps jersey with Hepburn in L'Avenir

    This will be good: Rohan Dennis gives the thumbs-up for Australia prior to racing in Geelong.
    Article published:
    September 06, 2011, 8:16 BST
    Cycling News

    'Heppy' praises team for selfless effort on road to Lunéville

    Michael Hepburn's time in the Tour de l'Avenir's leader's jersey may have been short-lived, but at least he was able to hand it on to a teammate. New leader Rohan Dennis, who was second behind Hepburn in yesterday's prologue time trial, managed to make it into the winning break and now has a handy lead of 22 seconds in the general classification.

    The two Australians, who will sit in the top two positions of the Tour de l'Avenir standings for the second consecutive day, can thank a dogged performance by their countrymen Richard Lang and Jay McCarthy for keeping the race under control. The exhausted duo came to the finish 105th and 106th respectively, more than five minutes behind stage winner Moreno Hofland.

    Reflecting on the day, Hepburn was quick to praise the work of the two, who he also rides with at Jayco-AIS.

    "Really nice to wear yellow in todays stage of l'Avenir. Thanks to all the boys for their effort all day. Jay and Rich rode ALL day!", said Hepburn via Twitter. "[I have nothing but] respect for the Aussie boys for their ride [today]."

    The sacrifice shown by Lang and McCarthy is an encouraging sign for the upcoming world championships, where much of the same team will be gunning to defend Michael Matthews' (Rabobank) under 23 title.

  • Leopard-RadioShack merger announcement came as a surprise to Andersen

    Kim Andersen has come over from Saxo Bank
    Article published:
    September 06, 2011, 8:51 BST
    Cycling News

    Sports Director says he was not informed

    The announcement of the new RadioShack-Nissan-Trek team for the coming season came as a surprise to Leopard Trek sports director Kim Andersen, who was informed of the deal only by a Danish television station after the press release was issued.

    When asked him his opinion on the new team, he responded “I don't know, because I have not seen the press release,” and said he did not know what the agreement was about.

    He said that he was not told about the press release beforehand.  “I had heard rumours about it, and I have my opinion, but it is not something I will comment upon.”

    The management structure of the new team was not immediately disclosed, but as Andersen pointed out, “I have a contract.'”  He added that as far as he can tell, RadioShack “is coming in as a partner. This means that our company continues.”

  • Thurau to Europcar, Lodewyck to BMC

    Björn Thurau has a famous father, but can handle his own career well
    Article published:
    September 06, 2011, 9:37 BST
    Cycling News

    Youngsters sign two-year deals in France and USA

    French team Europcar has announced its first signing for next season, 22-year-old German rider Björn Thurau. The son of former pro Dietrich Thurau, who wore yellow for 15 days at the 1977 Tour de France, will sign a two-year deal with the squad directed by Jean-René Bernaudeau.

    "We are expecting him soon in France to sign the deal," Bernaudeau said on the team's website. Thurau finished ninth in Paris-Corrèze and tenth of the Tour of Azerbaijan. "We will give him two years [to develop] because he is still young. He became a pro this year and now wants to take his career one step further. I met him and he has a a good mindset."

    Europcar is also still looking for an international high-profile rider, after bids to secure Thor Hushovd and Sylvain Chavanel failed.

    Another young European rider, Klaas Lodewyck, will take a big leap forward by following his current team leader Philippe Gilbert to American outfit BMC. The 23-year-old Belgian will also commit for two seasons, according to Het Laatste Nieuws.

    "I want to support Gilbert as long as possible these next two years," Lodewyck said. "This means that I have to get stronger on the climbs." During the off-season, the Belgian will therefore move to Italy for better training terrain.

    "I'll never become a real climber, but I have to get over 4-5 kilometer hills better," he reckoned.

  • Team Sky sign Italian neo-pro Puccio

    Points winner Salvatore Puccio (Italy)
    Article published:
    September 06, 2011, 10:42 BST
    Cycling News

    Under 23 Flanders winner joins Brailsford's squad

    Team Sky has bolstered its ranks by signing Salvatore Puccio. The Italian, who won the under 23 Tour of Flanders this year, will join fellow Italians Dario Cioni, Morris Possoni and Davide Appollonio in the squad directed by Dave Brailsford.

    “I think Team Sky is the best choice for any young rider in the world at the moment and signing for them has made a dream of mine become a reality. They have such a strong, positive image and I’ve been really impressed by the way they have organised their work in the few years that they have been around,” said Puccio.

    The Italian talent has had a strong season at the under 23 level. As well as his Flanders triumph, he won a stage at the Toscana - Coppa delle Nazioni and took podium places at the Giro del Belvedere di Villa di Cordignano, GP Palio del Recioto and Baby Giro.

    Team boss Dave Brailsford said: “Italy is renowned for producing talented young riders and in Salvatore we have uncovered a real gem. Not only will he have plenty to offer us in stage races throughout the season, he is also equally comfortable toughing it out in the one-day Classics and his grit and determination make him a hugely exciting prospect for the future.

    “At Team Sky we’ll be doing everything we can to ensure he fulfils his potential but there won’t be any undue pressure placed upon him and he’ll be able to learn at his own pace, just like all the other young guys on the team.”

    Puccio is the second neo-pro to join the team in the last two days after Luke Rowe signed a two-year contract yesterday.


  • Boonen's Worlds hope fading

    Tom Boonen (Quick Step)
    Article published:
    September 06, 2011, 11:46 BST
    Cycling News

    Final examinations today expected to decide on his participation

    Tom Boonen hasn't entirely given up hope of competing in the world championships, but realises that “a miracle will be needed to get to the Worlds.” The Quick Step rider broke the scaphoid in his left hand in a crash during the fifteenth stage of the Vuelta a España.

    The former world champion is scheduled to undergo further medical tests on his hand, but “I have no illusions,” he told Het Nieuwsblad. “The hospital in Gijon is one of the best hospitals in Spain and if the scan there indicates a break, then I shouldn't expect to hear any better news tomorrow (Tuesday).”

    This kind of fracture normally takes six weeks to heal, and the Worlds start in two weeks. “Unless a miracle happens, my season is over.”

    Team spokesman Alessandro Tegner tried to see things more optimistically. “We can't say for sure in advance whether Tom Boonen will have to cross out the Worlds. It is still too early for that. Additional studies will reveal whether or not he can start,” he told the Belga news agency. “We hope that everything will be ok."

  • Feillu in the dark over Leopard Trek-RadioShack merger

    Brice Feillu (Leopard Trek)
    Article published:
    September 06, 2011, 12:33 BST
    Cycling News

    Riders received no communication from team

    Brice Feillu said that he and his fellow Leopard Trek riders received no notice that the team was going to merge with RadioShack ahead of Monday evening’s announcement. The Frenchman admitted that he is already tentatively looking for a new team for next year.

    “There was no announcement, no message to say that the team was going to stop, as happened with Agritubel [which disbanded in 2009 – ed],” Feillu told L’Équipe. “Officially, I haven’t received anything, like the other riders concerned. Martin Mortensen confirmed as much to me on the telephone. Of course, we’re trying to find out more from the staff, but it remains unclear.”

    Rumours concerning the joint future of the Leopard Trek and RadioShack teams began to gather pace two weeks ago. “It was circulating in the peloton in Plouay [on August 28] and as the race was long, we had time to talk about it,” Feillu said. “It worried me, but nothing more.

    “People were talking above all about the departure of Brian Nygaard and the arrival of Johan Bruyneel. But it was vague, it was never really clear. I was waiting for the Leopard team to give me information that I didn’t have. Now, it’s more than a rumour.”

    Although Feillu penned a two-year deal with Leopard Trek last winter, the 2009 Tour de France stage winner accepts that he may be on the move for the third consecutive season. Feillu rode for Vacansoleil in 2010, but left the Dutch squad after they failed to secure an invitation to any of the Grand Tours last...