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Second Edition Cycling News, Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Date published:
April 14, 2010, 1:00 BST
  • Sastre slips into Cervélo squad for Amstel Gold

    Spaniard Carlos Sastre (Cervélo)
    Article published:
    April 14, 2010, 3:11 BST
    Cycling News

    Spanish star warms up for Giro campaign

    The Cervélo TestTeam has announced that Carlos Sastre will ride the Amstel Gold Race this Sunday as preparation for next month's Giro d'Italia, which gets underway in Amsterdam on May 8.

    Sastre, who celebrates his 35th birthday in nine days time, has raced only once in 2010, at the Tour of Catalunya, and Sunday's Ardennes Classics opener will serve as the toughest test of his season so far.

    He'll be joined by Davide Appollonio, Philip Deignan, Xavier Florencio, Volodymir Gustov, Ted King, Daniel Lloyd and Xavier Tondo, in a squad capable of causing an upset on the hilly parcours through the Limburg region on Holland.

    Sastre announced earlier this year that he will again ride the Giro d'Italia after a successful campaign in Italy last season, where he took two stage wins and finished the race fourth overall. He was promoted to third after the disqualification of Danilo Di Luca, who took second overall but tested positive for EPO-CERA.

    Directeur sportif for the event, Jean Paul van Poppel, believes the 257.3km parcours will be good preparation for the experienced Spaniard. "The Limburg region, where the race takes place, serves up an endless menu of steep, narrow climbs. One of the 31 climbs, the Keutenberg, features ramps as steep as 20 percent. With Carlos Sastre we have a big name at the start," he said.

    Sastre finished 37th in the 2009 edition of the Amstel Gold Race.

  • Inaugural Breakaway Ride a success

    Springtime in California means racing in farm country
    Article published:
    April 14, 2010, 4:03 BST
    Bruce Hildenbrand

    Riders take on Amgen Tour of California stage

    Over 800 riders took to the route of the Amgen Tour of California's eighth and final stage on Sunday for the inaugural Breakaway Ride presented by Specialized. This granfondo style event was the first of two rides in which cyclists have the opportunity to experience a stage of America's premier bicycle race.

    The Breakaway Ride benefits Amgen's Breakway from Cancer initiatives. Sunday's event raised over $40,000 for cancer-related charities. One of the featured riders was Olympic bronze medalist and former 7-Eleven team rider Roy Knickman, whose son Andreas is recovering from treatment for bone cancer. Roy and Andreas paced the riders attempting the 37-mile route. Amgen Tour of California race director Jim Birrell was at the front of the field of riders attempting the 63-mile and 107-mile routes.

    On the day that saw Fabian Cancellara win his second Paris-Roubaix in France, Knickman remembers his ride at the Hell of the North in 1988:

    "I got in the early breakaway that was still leading when we hit the Arenberg Forest. Suddenly a huge gap in the cobbles appeared and I tried to bunny hop over it, but hit my rear wheel on a cobble and flatted. I was never able to regain the lead group. It was a real pity because everyone in the break who made it out of the Arenberg Forest finished in the top ten overall including Dirk DeMol and Thomas Wegmuller who went 1-2. But, that's Paris-Roubaix."

    The famous "Rock Store" climb, a 2.5 mile ascent which reaches grades of 9-10 percent was timed in order to determine the King and Queen of the Mountains. Brent Graves of Los Gatos, California and Christina Deronde of nearby Calabasas were declared the winners of the 107-mile route. Dan Chapman of Santa Monica and Rebecca Nickodem of Fullerton were the winners of the 63-mile route.

    Making an unscheduled appearance on course was late night comedian Jay Leno, who frequents the Santa Monica mountains near his home on his collection of...

  • Cavendish going for green in Tour de France

    Mark Cavendish (HTC-Columbia) looked relaxed and happy at the start of Milan-San Remo
    Article published:
    April 14, 2010, 9:30 BST
    Cycling News

    Plays down differences with teammate Greipel

    Mark Cavendish is convinced he can still win the green points jersey at this year's Tour de France, despite his difficult start to the season caused by a dental problem, and has dismissed his recent comments about teammate Andre Greipel as just "creating controversy".

    Speaking to the Guardian newspaper in London after a rare trip to the Isle of Man for some time off, Cavendish is on form and up for a fight with the journalist Anna Kessel who has never interviewed him before and does not regularly follow cycling.

    "You came here today with the perception that I was an arsehole," was Cavendish's opening line.

    The journalist went on to describe him as a unique talent but also as 'mischievous and boyish, a young buck who enjoys running off his mouth', before giving him room to blow off steam about losing the green jersey in last year's Tour de France and how he intends to win it this year.

    "The decision last year, that's got to be one of the worst sports decisions in history – it's up there with Maradona's hand ball at the [1986] World Cup. Don't you think? One of the worst decisions in sports history. Really. That was …" he said on the decision by race officials on stage 14 to Besancon that cost him some precious points in the battle for the green jersey.

    "I've had everybody telling me I was shit since I was a kid so I've always had to stick up for myself," he said to justify his words.

    "Because I was winning so comfortably…and the way I was celebrating; I was doing wacky salutes and that crossing the finish line. Maybe he just thought … I don't know. You know what I mean? One of them."

    Defeat last year has only strengthened Cavendish's conviction that he can win the green jersey this year. He saw it as a logical outcome to three weeks of sprinting.

    "I know if I do the work then I'll win it," he said. "I'm not being arrogant, I'm sat here with pretty slumped shoulders,...

  • Rabobank selects five riders for Tour de France

    Lars Boom (Rabobank) remains in the race lead following stage two.
    Article published:
    April 14, 2010, 10:18 BST
    Susan Westemeyer

    Dutch team confirm their roster for Amstel Gold

    Rabobank has announced five of the nine riders that will represent the team at the Tour de France this summer, with Giro d'Italia winner Denis Menchov leading the team and Lars Boom making his Tour debut. The Dutch ProTour team has also announced its squad for this Sunday's Amstel Gold Race, with sprinter Oscar Freire and climber Robert Gesink to lead the team.

    Menchov and Boom will be joined by Gesink, Laurens ten Dam and Juan Manuel Garate at the Tour, which starts in Rotterdam on July 3, according to the Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf.

    The team will start its specific preparations for the Tour next month. Gesink and Ten Dam will reconnoitre the Pyrenean stages in early May, with all five riders doing altitude training in the Sierra Nevada later in the month. Boom and Ten Dam are expected to ride the Tour of Switzerland in June.

    Boom, 24, made his Grand Tour debut last year in the Vuelta a España, where he won the 15th stage. He is expected to target the opening 9km time trial in Rotterdam, hoping to repeat his victory in the 8km time trial in this year's Paris-Nice.

    The remaining four places on the team will be announced shortly before the Tour. 

    Climbers and sprinters for Amstel Gold Race

    Robert Gesink and Oscar Freire will lead Rabobank in Sunday's Amstel Gold Race, the only Dutch Spring classic. The team will feature five riders fresh from the Tour of the Basque Country and three from the Flemish Classics: Lars Boom, Laurens ten Dam, Oscar Freire, Robert Gesink, Sebastian Langeveld, Paul Martens, Nick Nuyens and Bram Tankink.

    Gesink finished third in last year's Amstel, after forcing the winning break, and is this year “obviously hoping for more,” the team said. The 23-year-old had been as high as third overall in The Tour of the Basque Country, before crashing on the penultimate stage. Despite four stitches in his elbow and additional injuries...

  • Leukemans to re-negotiate contract with Vacansoleil

    Björn Leukemans (Vacansoleil Pro Cycling Team) en route to a 6th place finish.
    Article published:
    April 14, 2010, 11:46 BST
    Richard Tyler

    Belgian weighing up options after bumper Classics season

    Björn Leukemans will enter contract renegotiations with Vacansoleil next week after one of the strongest Classics periods of his 10-year professional career. The 32-year-old Belgian says he has also been approached by a squad of "big name".

    On Sunday, Leukemans finished sixth at Paris-Roubaix, his fourth top-ten finish of the three week cobbled Classic period. In his second season with Dutch squad Vacansoleil, Leukemans' consistent performances have seen his career boosted with a second wind.

    "I am eternally grateful to the team that I could launch my second career," said Leukemans, according to Sporza. "Next week my agent will sit down at the table with Vacansoleil. The team wants me to continue longer with them, but I have also been asked to race with a top rider. But I won't say who."

    With Vacansoleil's 2010 Classics campaign ending at Amstel Gold Race on Sunday, the team confirmed to Cyclingnews on Wednesday that they will be hoping to extend Leukemans' current contract.

    "He has a contract until the end of 2011," said Vacansoleil's Press Officer Frank Kwanten. "There will be a re-evaluation next week, after the Classics."

    While he would not be drawn on the identity of the rival team who have approached him, Leukemans would not rule out the possibility of a transfer. After making the final selection at Paris-Roubaix on Sunday, several of his colleagues in the break showed their appreciation for his performance.

    "I wouldn't find [riding for another rider] terrible. [Nick] Nuyens and [Stijn] Devolder also race up there beside Tom Boonen," said Leukemans, according to Sporza. "As a matter of fact, those riders sent me an SMS on Sunday, saying, 'Thank you for your work [today]'. That means a lot to me."

    Leukemans will race on Wednesday's Brabantse Pijl in preparation for the final race of his 2010 Classics campaign, Amstel Gold Race. With the promise of International Cycling...

  • Vinokourov and Riccò to tackle Giro del Trentino

    All smiles: Alexandre Vinokourov (Astana)
    Article published:
    April 14, 2010, 12:59 BST
    Susan Westemeyer

    Simoni may close his career at Italian race with Lampre-Farnese Vini

    The Giro del Trentino will feature a number of big names next week (April 20-23), with Alexander Vinokourov (Astana) and Riccardo Riccò (Ceramica Flaminia) among those scheduled to take on the mountainous race through north-eastern Italy. Gilberto Simoni could also use the event as his swansong, should he confirm a temporary contract with Lampre-Farnese Vini this week.

    Vinokourov will use the event to tune-up for his second Grand Tour appearance since returning from a doping suspension in August last year.

    "It's important for my preparation and the approach to the Giro d’Italia," said Vinokourov. "The very difficult stages of Giro del Trentino correspond to those in the Giro. I really expect Trentino to help my build better shape and get a gauge of the opponents I'll meet few days afterwards at the Giro d’Italia."

    Also on the comeback trail is Riccardo Riccò. The Ceramica Flaminia rider is fresh off two stage wins at the Settimana Lombarda, where he finished second overall. With his team not invited to the Giro d'Italia, Riccò indicated that Trentino will take on greater significance.

    "Giro del Trentino is the first major goal of the season for me and I will fight for a good position in the overall classification," he said. "I know my condition is growing but I still need to test myself on the mountains against the major riders."

    Race organisers hinted that Gilberto Simoni might take part in the race, possibly for Lampre-Farnese Vini. A press release issued on Wednesday said that 38-year-old Simoni was, "looking forward to contesting the Giro del Trentino as the last race of his brilliant career," and that "Lampre is expected to confirm his situation in the next few days."

    Defending champion Ivan Basso and Franco Pellizotti will ride for Liquigas. The Italian duo will face-off against a host of strong climbers, including Michele Scarponi (Androni-Diquigiovanni), Stefano Garzelli...

  • Devolder's time at Quick Step could be up

    Stijn Devolder (Quick Step)
    Article published:
    April 14, 2010, 13:50 BST
    Daniel Benson

    Lefevere may let two-time Flanders winner go after poor Classics campaign

    Patrick Lefevere has signalled that Stijn Devolder’s three-year tenure at Quick Step could be up after the Belgian performed poorly in both the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix. Devolder’s current contract expires at the end of 2010 and Lefevere’s recent comments more than suggest he’s not a hurry to re-sign Devolder, who finished 25th in Flanders and 42nd in Roubaix.

    Devolder came into Flanders having won the event in 2008 and 2009, but was heavily criticised by his team boss for focusing on only one event in the year.

    "He was not good," Lefevere told Cyclingnews.

    Asked if Devolder would be with the team next year he added: "I don’t know. First of all we have to see if there is a future, as his contract is ending this year. I don’t want to say anymore but I will wait. All the riders' agents want them to sign as soon as possible, but there are a lot of teams that have riders at the end of contracts, so we’ll see a lot of riders come on the market. It would not be very smart of me to sign too early with riders in general."

    Devolder’s gamble of aiming exclusively at a third successive Flanders title may have backfired this year, but after a strong performance in the 2006 Vuelta a España, where he finished 11th with former team Discovery Channel, he had been touted as a potential stage racer. However, in recent seasons he has shown little sign of replicating that general classification result.

    "When I saw him the last few years in the Vuelta and the Tour [de France] he was nowhere; with no results so you have to change tactics. It’s not good to have one result in Flanders last year and then nothing. That’s dangerous for him," said Lefevere.

    Perhaps most damaging for Devolder is Lefevere’s suggestion that the Belgian's isolated training regime was to blame for his poor showing. Instead of shielding Devolder, Lefevere said, "I think if...

  • On the start line at Brabantse Pijl

    Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma-Lotto) gets a warm welcome
    Article published:
    April 14, 2010, 14:32 BST
    Stephen Farrand

    Can Gilbert finally win for Omega Pharma-Lotto?

    Today's 50th edition of the Brabantse Pijl, the Brabant Arrow or La Flèche Brabanconne, marks the switch from the cobbles of Flanders to the lanes of the Ardennes. The cobbles are a fading memory and it is time to get ready for the smoother, but hilly races in the western region of Belgium.

    The Brabantse Pijl has a new date and a new route and the team line-ups have changed dramatically since Paris-Roubaix, with most of the cobbled Classics specialists being replaced by the contenders for Sunday's Amstel Gold Race, and next week's Flèche Wallone and Liège-Bastogne-Liège.

    The cobbles have been replaced with short climbs and there are 31 of these along the 200 kilometre route today. 23 of them come in the second half of the course, when the race covers a twisting circuit around Overijse, east of Brussels.

    Milan-San Remo winner Oscar Freire (Rabobank) wears number one. He is joined by Belgian Nick Nuyens in the Dutch squad's line-up.

    French-speaking Belgian Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma-Lotto) got the biggest cheer when he signed on in the spectacular main square in Leuven, but was clearly nervous. He is under immense pressure to land the first victory of the season for the Belgian team. Could today be the day?

    There was a wide selection of teams at the start, ranging from big-budgets squads such as Rabobank and Team Sky, down to the much smaller Qin Cycling Team and Verandas Willems.

    Garmin-Transitions are in the race, with Steve Cozza, Danny Pate, Cameron and Travis Meyer riding for on-form young Dutch rider Michel Kreder. Simon Gerrans leads Team Sky as he prepares for Amstel Gold Race and Karsten Kroon is the star of the BMC team.

    The race rolled out of Leuven at 12:30 local time, for some reason after a rousing rendition of Edward Elgar's Land of Hope and Glory was played loudly across the square. The race is due to finish at 5:30pm CET.

    There will be a full report...