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Second Edition Cycling News, Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Date published:
February 24, 2010, 0:00 GMT
  • Gilbert misses Omloop Het Nieuwsblad recon ride

    Philippe Gilbert guides his Omega Pharma-Lotto troops
    Article published:
    February 24, 2010, 10:00 GMT
    Susan Westemeyer

    Omega Pharma-Lotto captain grounded by air traffic controllers' strike

    Omega Pharma-Lotto will be among those out testing the course for the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad on Wednesday, but it will be there without its captain Philippe Gilbert. The Belgian has been caught up in a French air traffic controllers' strike and couldn't fly out of Monaco to join his teammates.

    “Philippe would normally today from Monaco to Belgium, “ the team said in a press release issued on Tuesday night, “but the strike by French air traffic controllers made this impossible. There are a whole series of flights cancelled and Philippe could not arrive in Belgium.”

    The 27-year -old will now remain at his home in Monaco to train, and expects to join the team on Thursday – if the air traffic controllers co-operate.

    Gilbert has won the Belgian semi-Classic on two occasions during his tenure with former squad, Française des Jeux.. He took his first victory at the race - then known as Omloop Het Volk - in 2006, and his second in 2008.

  • Freire battles back from puncture to go three-for-six

    Oscar Freire (Rabobank) wins in Ruta del Sol
    Article published:
    February 24, 2010, 10:30 GMT
    Susan Westemeyer

    Rabobank show strength in Spain, Ten Dam out of hospital

    Spaniard Óscar Freire is on a roll, having won not only two consecutive stages in the Ruta del Sol, but also three of the six races he has ridden this season. His 2010 tally is already more victories than the Rabobank rider had all of last season, when he won just two stages at the Tour de Romandie.

    The Spaniard won the Ruta's third stage on Tuesday the hard way, coming back from a puncture with around 30km to go. Milram attacked on the penultimate climb of the day, splitting the peloton, and although six Rabobank riders were able to go with them, Freire's puncture broke the momentum.

    Only Bauke Mollema stayed in the first group, while the others were ordered to wait for their captain. Freire took a wheel from teammate Paul Martens and continued on. Both he and Martens were able to rejoin the lead group with 15km to go.

    Martens then turned lead-out man for Freire. The Spanish rider obliged his Dutch colleague's efforts to cross the finish line first, by a half a bike length, on an uphill finish in Benahavis.

    As Freire's fortunes continue to improve, so has the condition of his teammate Laurens ten Dam. The Dutchman suffered a cracked pelvis in a crash near the end of the second stage Monday. He was able to leave the hospital in Córdoba on Tuesday and joined the team at their hotel that evening. Ten Dam is expected to return to the Netherlands on Wednesday for further examination and to begin his rehabilitation.

  • Basso backs himself ahead of season debut

    Ivan Basso poses with the 2010 Giro d'Italia leader's jersey.
    Article published:
    February 24, 2010, 11:35 GMT
    Cycling News

    Former Giro winner ready to take back Italian Grand Tour title

    As his season debut approaches, Ivan Basso has indicated that he'll be in top condition for this year's Giro d'Italia and will use this weekend's GP dell'Insubria-Lugano as a gauge of his form for the year ahead.

    Basso returned to the professional peloton last season following a two-year suspension for doping-related activities, finishing the Giro fourth overall after runner-up Danilo Di Luca was found to have used performance-enhancing substances and subsequently handed a suspension that effectively ended his career.

    While Di Luca won't be back at this year's Giro, Basso will, and told Tuttobiciweb, "I'm sure you will find the best Ivan, who can fight with the best both at the Giro and the Tour."

    He'll also use the Vuelta a Catalunya as preparation for the Giro, and admitted that while his form at the Spanish race may still be far from optimal, "at the Giro del Trentino and the Giro [d'Italia] I will go better in top condition."

    Basso said that last year, "was a very special season with great excitement. I think that racing as much as I did was not a mistake but a choice; the team gave me the opportunity to do whatever I wanted because the urge to race was strong.

    "This year the priorities were decided specifically and, eventually, if my condition is still good, there are many other beautiful races that I can do, including the Tre Valli [Varesine]."

    He added that this year's Giro course suits him because, "I consider myself a climber and this year the time trials are less influential. Altogether there are nine stages in which an athlete must always be near the front; even if they win another stage they must be consistent and for me, except when I fell ill in 2005, has always been a strength."

    Basso admitted that BMC Racing's Cadel Evans, the current road world champion, will be one of the men to watch when he returns to the Giro for the first time since 2002. He also commented on the possible...

  • Beppu gets off to a Classic start with RadioShack

    Fumiyuki Beppu takes a turn on the front of the bunch
    Article published:
    February 24, 2010, 12:32 GMT
    Richard Tyler

    Japanese rider ready to support strong squad at Omloop and Kuurne

    An enthusiastic Fumiyuki Beppu will finally get his 2010 season under way this weekend when he lines up for RadioShack at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and Kuurne-Bruxelles-Kuurne.

    The Japanese rider spent January embroiled in contract negotiations with former squad Skil-Shimano, but was earlier this month cleared to make a move to the US's newest ProTour team. His deal with RadioShack is a return of sorts for Beppu, who spent three seasons as part of much the same formation at Discovery Channel.

    "The training camp in Calpe[, Spain] this month was great. Everyone was very welcoming and I'm pleased to be here," Beppu told Cyclingnews on Wednesday.

    The contract polemics meant Beppu missed any opportunity to start racing in early February, as he has done for the past two seasons. Despite the delay, he will line up for this third successive appearance at Omloop on Saturday and his second shot at Kuurne on Sunday.

    "I kept going from last year and trained well over the winter," he said. "I like the spring Classics, they're tough races, but I've come from a mountain bike background which does help."

    Beppu will form part of a strong RadioShack roster for the weekend's races. Despite doubts over Gert Steegmans recovery from a crash at the Volta ao Algarve, Sebastien Rosseler's stage win at the same race has seen him emerge as a possible contender.

    Regardless of who is named as the team's protected rider, Beppu said he is ready to use his experience to support his teammates' ambitions. "I heard about Steegmans' crash this week. The Classics are long races and I will aim to be strong at the end to help riders like Rosseler wherever I can."

    Kick-off on the cobbles, dreaming of a return to France

    Although he has started...

  • Pevenage confirms split from Rock Racing

    Rudy Pevenage has distanced himself from Rock Racing
    Article published:
    February 24, 2010, 13:24 GMT
    Susan Westemeyer

    Belgian Directeur Sportif says team still owes him money

    Rudy Pevenage is no longer associated with Rock Racing, and says that the US-based team still owes him salary from 2009. The Belgian served as the team's Directeur Sportif throughout the 2009 season.

    "Together with [team manager] Lorenzo Lapage, since late 2009 I am no longer part of that team," Pevenage told "Besides, Lapage and I still have a few months salary due to us from the people who are or were in charge. I don't have anything more to do with Rock Racing.”

    "We set to work ambitiously” at Rock Racing, the 55 year-old said. “In a very short time we created something beautiful with some good sporting results. Lorenzo and I have proved that with limited resources, we could build something good from the ground up.

    “Afterwards we felt extremely let down,” Pevenage continued. “There were huge promises, but they were never fulfilled.”

    Lapage signed as a Directeur Sportif with Team Astana in December. “For him, a new world opened. Do I still have ambitions? Why not? They just have to call me.”

    Pevenage rode professionally from 1976 to 1988 before going into team management. He is best known as the mentor of German Jan Ullrich, with whom he worked at Telekom, Coast/Bianchi and T-Mobile. He was suspended along with Ullrich before the start of the 2006 Tour de France for their alleged connection to Dr. Eufemiano Fuentes and Operación Puerto.

  • Alexis Rodriguez to join LeTua for Tour de Langkawi

    Alexis Rodriguez has joined Ng Yong Li at LeTua
    Article published:
    February 24, 2010, 14:00 GMT
    Jean-François Quénet

    Veteran Spanish professional relishes Asian opportunity

    Former Kelme rider Alexis Rodriguez will lead the Continental Malaysian team LeTua at Le Tour de Langkawi (March 1-7), which begins next week in Kota Bharu. The 33-year-old Spaniard will follow the path of former Tour de France yellow jersey wearer Jan Kirsipuu, who enjoyed his time with the Asian squad last year.

    "I'd seen on the internet they were looking for riders, so I contacted the team and luckily [Ng] Yong Li told them I'm a good climber because he remembered me when he raced in Portugal with ASC Vitoria in 2007," Rodriguez said.

    After three years with Kelme from 2001 to 2003, Rodriguez enjoyed successive moves to Portuguese teams: Beppi, Barbot, Tres Molinos and Fercase. He is best remembered for coming second on stage one at the 2002 Dauphiné Libéré behind Jacky Durand, who tried to speak to him in Spanish during their two-man breakaway. Rodriguez replied to him in perfect French and informed him that he was born in Marseille where his sister still lives.

    He's now back in the Spanish Elite ranks with Supermercado Froiz and divides his days into three parts at his base in Salamanca. He's a spinning instructor in the morning, trains like a professional cyclist in the middle of the day and he gives massages in the evenings as a qualified physiotherapist.

    "Our first stage race in Spain will be in Galicia in mid April, so it's really good to come here to Malaysia, find great weather and put seven days of racing in the legs. Le Tour de Langkawi is a great opportunity to begin a season. But it's been difficult to train due to the awful weather conditions in Europe. I'm probably at 70 per cent of my capacities. The staff of LeTua might expect more from me than my current form allows, but it's fun to do this and I'll give my best to the team."

    Team manager Shukor Yassin picked Rodriguez along...

  • Bahati Foundation prepares for team launch

    Rahsaan Bahati takes time for an interview on the Rock Racing bus at Philly week.
    Article published:
    February 24, 2010, 15:19 GMT
    Kirsten Frattini

    New US Continental team to show off 20 rider roster

    Bahati Foundation Pro Cycling Team has promised a big presentation at its scheduled team launch on March 12 in downtown Los Angeles, California. Rider introductions will be held at Club Nokia, an up-scale entertainment venue with amphitheatre-style seating designed to attract as many as 4,000 spectators.

    “It made sense to have it in a place that people are familiar with and attracts a decent crowd,” said Rahsaan Bahati, team co-owner and rider. “It has traffic flowing all the time, so it is a great place for us to deliver the message of the Bahati Foundation.”

    Bahati, a former USPro Criterium Champion, built the professional cycling team as a vehicle to spread awareness about the Bahati Foundation. Bahati created the organisation to help underprivileged inner-city children through the sport of cycling, education and music.

    “More important than the team launch, the presentation is about introducing the Bahati Foundation to the public,” Bahati said. “It’s about making the public aware that this foundation exists to help inner-city kids. That is really what this launch is about. Ultimately the team is here to deliver the message about our foundation.”

    The team will introduce those in attendance to its 20 strong professional team: Nathan O’Neill, Hilton Clarke, Jason Donald, Matt Rice, Cesar Grajales, Ryan Baumann, Corey Collier, Bobby Lea, Alex Hagman, Peter Carey, Phillip Mann, Evan Hyde, Ian Burnett and Lanell Rockmore. There are also five amateur riders in the squad Morgan Ryan, Devan Dunn, Yosvany Falcon, Jorge Alvarado and Neil Coleman.

    “Picking the team was one of the hardest things I had to do because there are so many riders out there that I have competed against and wished I could bring on to the team,” Bahati said. “I had to make a conscious effort to make sure that not only was I getting a talented rider but a guy who could speak well...

  • Washington, DC start to 2012 Giro falling into place

    Christian Vande Velde (Garmin-Slipstream) after winning the Giro d'Italia's pink jersey in 2008
    Article published:
    February 24, 2010, 21:17 GMT
    Cycling News

    Update: Key parties to meet at reception tomorrow

    An announcement regarding a Washington, DC start to the 2012 Giro d'Italia is not imminent, contrary to reports in the Italian press, but it appears that momentum behind the city's bid to make the US the first overseas host of a departure for a Grand Tour is building.

    The possibility of beginning the race in the US capital was made public after Giro organiser RCS Sport sent its head Alberto Zomegnan to the city back in November.

    Terri Washington of the Washington Convention and Sports Authority explained to Cyclingnews that Zomegnan will be back in DC to meet with the key people behind the effort and to introduce the concept to potential sponsors tomorrow, but there is no confirmation yet that the race will visit American shores in two years time.

    The 2012 Giro d'Italia Working Group, headed by Mark Sommers and g4 Productions, has been working on the details of the proposed stages with the support of DC Mayor Adrian Fenty, a triathlete and avid cycling fan. Garmin-Transitions rider Christian Vande Velde, once a wearer of the Giro's maglia rosa, came out in favour of the start in his home country last year.

    The race is proposed to begin with a prologue, which would take place among the city's most iconic features including the Memorial Bridge which fittingly has two large statues donated to the country by the Italians after World War II. It would also pass by the famed Lincoln, Jefferson and Washington monuments, the National Mall and the US Capitol.

    A second stage would stay within the city for a circuit that finishes on Pennsylvania Avenue, and there have been discussions about having an additional two or three stages on the east coast before the race would head back overseas to Italy.

    Stay tuned to Cyclingnews for details of the announcement as they develop.