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Second Edition Cycling News, Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Date published:
December 09, 2009, 0:00 GMT
  • Kirchen looks forward to fresh start with Katusha

    Luxembourg's Kim Kirchen to help Russians and win with Katusha
    Article published:
    December 09, 2009, 11:00 GMT
    Susan Westemeyer

    Luxembourger motivated for strong season in 2010

    This year was one to forget for Kim Kirchen, with a serious crash and broken bones in February affecting the whole season. The Luxembourger is off to Russian team Katusha in the coming season, and hopeful of better luck in 2010.

    Kirchen, 31, is leaving Columbia-HTC after four seasons. His best year with the team was in 2008, when he recorded six victories, including Flèche Wallonne. However, this year got off to the worst possible start, as a crash in the fourth stage of the Tour of California in February left him with a broken shoulder blade and collarbone. While he recovered in time to win a stage in the Tour de Suisse and took his national time trial title, he never really got back into the swing of things.

    He announced on September 1 that he would be riding for Katusha in the new season. “It was the right decision, “ he told Luxembourg newspaper Wort. “This is like a new start, and, logically, it's given me new motivation. I want to know whether I can still do it, and believe I can have a positive 2010.”

    Had he stayed with the US-based team, he would have had less responsibility and less freedom to ride for himself, Kirchen said. In his talks with Katusha, “I felt that they believed in me and trusted me. That was very important to me. At some of the big races, the responsibility will be on me, and in the end it was this that convinced me to make the change.”

    Kirchen is pleased with his new team, saying “We will surely create some positive headlines. Our opponents should keep an eye on us.

    “At the Classics, we are Number One. We will be at the front and then the victories will only be a matter of time.”

    The Spring Classics will form part of Kirchen's first set of season objectives. He confirmed that he will ride the Ardennes Classics, and is currently considering starts at Milano-Sanremo, either Tirreno-Adriatico or Paris-Nice,...

  • Demol looks to Steegmans for RadioShack's first win

    Lance Armstrong and Gert Steegmans ride side-by-side.
    Article published:
    December 09, 2009, 11:33 GMT
    Laura Weislo

    RadioShack directeur sportif confident 2010 can be Belgian sprinter's renaissance

    Belgian Gert Steegmans' 2009 season was forgettable in most respects: while he scored two wins for Katusha, his season came to an abrupt and premature end. It was a big disappointment for the 29-year-old as it had followed a successful year with Quick Step that included eight victories and one triumphant win in the Tour de France's final stage on the Champs-Élysées.

    After a dispute with Katusha over its anti-doping charter, Steegmans was placed on non-active status by the team in June and was absent from the peloton for the second half the season. In January, all that will be forgotten as Steegmans lines up for the new RadioShack team in its first race at the Tour Down Under in Australia.

    Cyclingnews spoke with RadioShack Directeur Sportif Dirk Demol about his fellow Belgian, who he's brought into the team as its main sprinter, and how Steegmans fits into the squad's overall goals.

    "[The team] decided to be in the picture for the whole season, and to do that we needed a sprinter. Also, when we go to the Classics, we need more than one or two riders who can do well - we needed more. That's why we took Steegmans. He isn't just a sprinter, he can also do well in the Classics, same with Sébastien Rosseler.

    "With [Gregory] Rast, [Tomas] Vaitkus and [Dmitriy] Muravyev we have five good riders for the Classics. I won't say we'll have a top favourite at the start of any Classic, but when you have a strong team you can go far."

    The first order of business is to kick off the season strong at its first event, the Tour Down Under. Steegmans has already been named to the squad and Demol thinks he could net the team's first win.

    "Our first goal is to have a stage win at the Tour Down Under and show ourselves, to make a good impression. Maybe Steegmans is one of the guys who can win a stage.

    "He's strong - the fact that he did not do so many races this year means he's hungry now - he wants...

  • Contador concedes Tour win will be tougher in 2010

    Alberto Contador and Alejandro Valverde, l-r, possible 2010 teammates.
    Article published:
    December 09, 2009, 11:54 GMT
    Shane Stokes

    Spaniard says that Armstrong tensions helped him to mature

    This year brought the most dominant of his four Grand Tour victories thus far, but Alberto Contador fully expects the push to add a fifth – namely another Tour de France win – to be a more difficult one.

    The 27-year-old Spaniard heads towards the new season with a reduced-strength Astana team, after his arch-rival Lance Armstrong brought many of the team's chief riders with him to RadioShack.

    "I am realistic and I know that I have a weaker team than in previous years,” he told the Spanish newspaper Marca. “For that reason we'll have to work hard on motivation in training so that we know what we can achieve and how to do it.”

    “I know that it will be a difficult year; it's possible I won't be able to win the Tour even if I am in good shape. People will be focussing a lot on me, but my rivals know that the team I will have is not the same as before.”

    Contador had one remaining year on his contract with the team and despite stating on several occasions that he wanted to leave, he was unable to do so. A delay in the Kazakh squad’s licence registration with the International Cycling Union (UCI) appeared to give him a way out, but ultimately he declared that he would stay for 2010.

    Part of his increased confidence in the team was due to the signing of new staff, including General Manager Yvon Sanquer and Directeur Sportif Giuseppe Martinelli, as well as signs that the squad will be more financially sound from this point on.

    In fact, he doesn’t rule out remaining there beyond next season.

    "We'll have to see how everything goes because Astana could be a great team and I may decide to stay, though I may also change teams or set up my own,” he said. “[That’s] something that would be highly motivating, but would tax my energy."

    Contador and the rest of the Astana are currently training in Pisa, Italy, and will be joined today or...

  • Biological passport panel to discuss suspect cases

    Astarloa, Caucchioli, De Bonis, Serrano and Lobato Elvira were the riders named by the UCI
    Article published:
    December 09, 2009, 15:39 GMT
    Peter Cossins

    Panel to meet as UCI biological passport program nears end of second year

    The panel of nine experts charged with review of suspect blood test results discovered under the International Cycling Union's (UCI) biological passport program are set to meet this weekend to discuss a new batch of cases. News of the meeting was announced on French website Cyclismag after it contacted two of the nine experts on the panel.

    Given that almost six months passed between the last list of five passport-related suspects being drawn up and their names being released by UCI, the meeting is unlikely to lead to any revelations in the immediate future.

    On June 17, the UCI announced that it was taking disciplinary action against Spaniards Igor Astarloa, Ricardo Serrano and Rubén Lobato, and Italians Pietro Caucchioli and Francesco De Bonis following a recommendation by the nine experts that had been given in January.

    According to one of the experts contacted by Cyclismag: "Among the names under discussion there may well be some who have already tested positive."

    Figures released by the UCI on October 15 reveal that more than 800 riders were part of the biological passport program this year. The number of tests conducted on these riders was 9,070, or 80 below the UCI’s target for the year of 9,150. This, however, was significantly fewer than the target of 15,000 tests per year that was set when the passport program was launched at the end of 2007.

  • Milram's sponsor could remain beyond 2010

    Gerry van Gerwen is cautiously optimistic
    Article published:
    December 09, 2009, 15:55 GMT
    Susan Westemeyer

    German dairy company backtracks on total withdrawal of sponsorship

    Milram's parent company Nordmilch AG has apparently backtracked on its decision to abandon sponsorship of its eponymous ProTour team after the 2010 season, indicating that it may continue to support the German squad under certain conditions.

    “We have a large interest on the continued existence of the team,” the Bremen-based dairy-product company said in a statement issued on Wednesday. “Accordingly we are are open to various approaches, as to how and in what manner we could continue to work together with the team after 2010.”

    The company indicated that the best possible solution would be co-name-sponsor, who would eventually take over the team. It is in “constant dialogue” with team manager Gerry van Gerwen.

    Earlier this week Nordmilch repeated its intention of stop its now four-year sponsorship of the team after the coming season, and that an extension of the sponsorship was not under consideration.

  • Fat Cyclist goes to RadioShack team camp

    The FattyFly - a Gary Fisher Superfly in Fat Cyclist colours that's being offered up as a prize.
    Article published:
    December 09, 2009, 17:14 GMT
    Jeff Jones/

    Cycling blogger Elden Nelson in Tucson with RadioShack squad

    Popular cycling blogger Elden Nelson, aka The Fat Cyclist, has managed to book himself a ticket to the Team RadioShack training camp in Tucson, Arizona.

    Elden managed it after posting a tongue-in-cheek open letter to RadioShack team manager Johan Bruyneel on his website last Thursday. In it, he argued the team should hire him as a rider on the basis that he had the necessary skills: team player, willing to travel, older than the rest of the team, good speller and enjoyed riding his bike, among other things.

    To his surprise, Bruyneel took him up on the offer, saying if he raised $10,000 for LiveStrong, and $10,000 for the World Bicycle Relief Fund, he could go to the camp. And if he raised $50,000, he'd get a Trek Madone.

    Fatty leapt into action over the weekend. He turned it into a contest among his readers to raise money and send him to camp. To entice them, he offered the Trek Madone (signed by Team RadioShack) as a prize, a Gary Fisher Superfly custom painted in Fat Cyclist colours, and subsequently a Trek Travel trip to the Tour de France.

    The readers responded, raising an amazing $100,000 for LiveStrong and the World Bicycle Relief Fund in just three days. Thus, Fatty gets to go to camp this weekend, cancer is fought and kids in Zambia will get bikes to ride to school.

  • Pat McQuaid nominated for IOC membership

    UCI president Pat McQuaid has been nominated for membership to the International Olympic Committee.
    Article published:
    December 09, 2009, 21:05 GMT
    Cycling News

    UCI president among six candidates to be elected in February

    Ireland's Pat McQuaid, the International Cycling Union (UCI) president, is one of six candidates the International Olympic Committee (IOC) executive committee has nominated today for election to the IOC. The election, considered a formality, will take place at the 122nd IOC Session, which will be held in conjunction with the 2010 Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver, Canada in February 2010.

    In addition to McQuaid, five others were nominated including Prince Feisal bin Al-Hussein of Jordan, president of the Jordanian Olympic Committee and younger brother of King Abdullah II; Spain's Maria de la Soledad Casado Estupiñan, president of the International Triathlon Union; New Zealand's Barry John Maister, secretary general of the New Zealand Olympic Committee; Ethiopia's Dagmawit Girmay Berhane, general secretary of the Ethiopian Olympic Committee; and China's Yang Yang, a two-time Olympic female short track speedskating gold medalist.

    The IOC currently has 112 members, and there is a maximum of 115 allowed. The terms of office of four members - Walther Tröger of Germany, Tamás Aján of Hungary, Zhenliang He of China and Fernando F. Lima Bello of Portugal - will expire at the end of the year. The six new members will bring the total to 114, including 20 women.

    McQuaid was elected to a second four-year term as UCI president in September. The Irishman was first elected UCI president in 2006 with the backing of the then out-going president, the Netherlands' Hein Verbruggen. The Dutchman currently serves as an honorary member of the IOC.

  • The Cyclingnews guide to team training camps

    Erik Zabel chats with Mark Cavendish on the road
    Article published:
    March 02, 2010, 16:00 GMT
    Cycling News

    2009-2010 training camps summary

    Keep informed about all information related to professional cycling team training camps as teams prepare for the 2010 road season. Check back often for the latest feature articles, news briefs, tech information, video and photographs related to teams' pre-season activities.

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