Video: Red and white look gets the nod for Down Under debut
Team RadioShack have revealed their new look for the 2011 season, days out from the opening Pro Tour event of the year - the Santos Tour Down Under. The race will be Lance Armstrong's final international appearance before retirement.
A video featuring flashes of the 2011 design appeared on the team's website this morning before being followed up by an official press release hours later.
Like many teams this season, white is the new red with the bold background colour replaced and instead a huge vermillion ‘R' dominates the jersey. As traditional, the yellow Livestrong band appears on the left sleeve.
Other sponsor's logos appearing on the jersey include Trek, Twitter and Nike while a white Nissan logo appears on the rear of the team's black shorts.
"Since the inception of Team RadioShack, we've relied heavily on Twitter to help keep our fans around the world updated and engaged, so we're excited to embrace them on our 2011 kit," said Lee Applbaum executive vice president and chief marketing officer for RadioShack.
Team RadioShack for Santos Tour Down Under:
Lance Armstrong, Robbie McEwen, Manuel Cardoso, Ben Hermans, Markel Irizar, Robbie Hunter and Gregory Rast.
Australian looking forward to Greipel-Cavendish clash
Richie Porte has conceded that he is not an overall contender for the Santos Tour Down Under and instead will ride in support for the Team Saxo Bank-SunGard sprinters. He is also looking forward to the duel between Andre Greipel of Omega Pharma-Lotto and his former teammate Mark Cavendish of HTC-Highroad.
“I'm going to help the sprinters,” the Australian told Procycling.no. “We have the Haedo brothers and Baden Cooke. I think we may see Baden come back to winning form.”
The 25-year-old from Tasmania had a highly successful debut season in 2010, wearing the maglia rosa for three stages at the Giro d'Italia. This will be his first Tour Down Under as a professional. He rode as an amateur with the Australian national team in 2008, finishing ninth overall.
He does not expect to do nearly as well this year.
“My form is not very good at the moment,” he said. “My goals will come later in the season. I'm here to enjoy it, to ride in good weather.”
The Tour Down Under will be Lance Armstrong's last race outside of the US, but Porte doesn't see him as the largest drawing card this year. “You have the Lance factor, but personally I'm looking forward to the sprint brawl between Cav and Greipel,” he said. “I think the duel is fantastic for the race.”
Greipel has won the Tour Down Under twice, taking eight stages along the way. He and Cavendish had a tense relationship at HTC, with the German leaving for Omega Pharma-Lotto. The Tour Down Under will be the first time they clash as rivals in a sprint. It is Cavendish's first appearance at the Tour Down Under.
Fabian Wegmann does not believe that cycling in Germany is dead. The country has no ProTeams this year after the demise of the Milram team but he insists the future is bright.
“Right now is doesn't look so good, but we still have a lot of professional riders in Germany, but just no big team in Germany. Hopefully it's something that will improve in the future. Cycling has a future in Germany,” he told feltet.dk.
“We have some big races like Frankfurt Eschborn and the Cyclassics in Hamburg. Maybe it will take some time, but the people are still there. There are still plenty of German fans. I am sure that it will be enough to turn the tide.”
Wegmann is part of the five-man German contingent at Team Leopard-Trek. He has previously only ridden for German teams, turning professional with Gerolsteiner in 2002 and moving to Milram from 2009 to 1010. However he insists he doesn't feel responsible for cycling in Germany.
"I don't feel that there is extra pressure on my shoulders to produce results to get German cycling back on its feet. I put the pressure on myself. I want to get results for myself and for the team, that's why I'm in cycling. But with my success and from those of other German riders I'm sure there will soon be a big German team in the sport again,” he said.
The 30-year-old has won the Rund um den Finanzplatz Eschborn-Frankfurt for the last two years. He won the national road championship in 2007 and 2008. Wegmann has also won the king of the mountains jersey of the Giro d'Italia in 2004, the GP San Francisco (2005), and has twice won the GP Miguel Indurain, in 2006 and 2008.
The Guardia Civil has confirmed that Alberto Leon's death was a suicide. Both former rider Jesus Manzano and the Spanish Secretary of Sport Jaime Lissavetzky have both mourned his death.
Earlier this week Leon was found hanged at his brother's home, where he had recently moved after separating from his wife. The retired mountain biker was arrested as part of Operacion Puerto in 2006 and again last month as part of Operacion Galga, both of which are doping-related investigations involving Dr. Eufemiano Fuentes.
Manzano and Leon rode together on the Coronas mountain bike team, while Fuentes was working with the team. Manzano is a former professional who in 2004 spoke out on doping in Spanish cycling.
“I knew he was going through a difficult time, but these things always affect you,” Manzano told the EFE news agency. “I met him at Coronas and we shared many trips and events. Since Operacion Puerto I have had no dealings with him.”
Lissavetzky told EFE: “I have little to say, but want to lament the death of a young person and share the pain of his family that this has happened. The death of a person only 37 years old is certainly not good news, not at all."
The Spanish Civil Guard has confirmed to the AP that his death was a suicide, but said that the death would not affect their investigation. Neither the Guardia Civil nor the Madrid court handling the investigation would either confirm or deny whether any doping products or equipment were found at the scene.
More mountain finishes and a Basque finale in 2011
The route of the 2011 Vuelta Espana has been officially unveiled in Benidorm, confirming rumours of a return of the Angliru climb and a visit to the Basque Country for the first time in 33 years.
2010 Vuelta winner Vincenzo Nibali was amongst the riders present in Benidorm, where the race will start on August 20 with a 16km team time trial. The race will end in Madrid on September 11 after a total of 3295km of racing.
Surprisingly the 66th edition of the Vuelta avoids the Catalunya region and the Pyrenees but includes six mountain finishes, two of which have never been climbed before. These are to Estacion de Montaña Manzaneda in Galicia on stage 11 and La Farrapona in the Asturias region on stage 14.
The race returns to Valdepeñas de Jaen in 2011 and to San Lorenzo del Escorial, which ends with a final kilometre at 23%. The race visits the Sierra Nevada near Granada and the infamous Angliru is also back on stage 15, as is the Peña Cabarga, where Igor Anton crashed out last year.
The only time trial is over 40km around Salamanca on stage 10, making the Vuelta a race for the climbers.
The Basque Country will host the final decisive stages before a transfer to Madrid for a 94km circuit finish. Stage 19 from Noja to Bilbao is flat but stage 20 from Bilbao to Vitoria includes four first category climbs.
Nibali, Sastre, Sanchez and Anton point out the key stages
2010 Vuelta winner Vincenzo Nibali and his main Spanish rivals Carlos Sastre, Samuel Sanchez, Joaquin Rodriguez and Igor Anton, were all at the official presentation of the route in Benidorm, Spain. All agreed the six mountain finishes and limited time trialing makes it a route for excellent climbers.
“It’ll be a hard Vuelta right from the start because the finish in the Sierra Nevada,” Nibali told Marca, spotting the 2,126m high finish on stage four.
Despite his Geox-TMC team needing a secure a wild card invitation after being snubbed for a ProTeam place, Sastre was confident he will be at the start in Benidorm on August 20.
“It’s a hard route, similar to last year’s with a spectacular start,” he said, noting the Sierra Nevada finish and pointing out it could still be very hot in southern Spain in August. "The three grand tour organizers are trying to more chances to the climbers and I like that."
Olympic champion Samuel Sanchez was worried about the steep stage finishes, especially the one to Lagos de Somiedo on stage 14.
"There are only 40km against the clock and the time trial is in the second week, so there is no real chance to get back two or three minutes," he said. "It’ll be an open race, which is not too hard but we’ll be climbing for an hour on stage 11 to Manzaneda. The finish at Lagos de Somiedo is short but hard. It climbs 1,500 metres in just eight kilometres. That’s very tough.”
Rodriguez found it amusing that some riders were already worried about such a mountainous route. He pointed out several stages that could also throw up surprises and catch out some riders.
“Stages like the one to Ponferrada (Stage 13) are difficult to control and so a rider who perhaps is not in the leading positions could get away and become a danger,” he said.
Euskaltel climber Igor Antón, crashed out of the 2010 Vuelta while wearing the leader’s jersey. But he was perhaps the happiest of all the riders. The route suits him and the final stages are on his home roads in the Basque Country for the first time for 33 years.
"I hope this time to reach the Alto de Angliru," he said, naming it as the queen stage of the race even if it will not create huge time differences.
"This (middle) week will be important because it will tire riders a lot. I will try to be at my best because these mountain stages could decide the race.”
One in five Italian riders has still to find a team for 2011 as a reduction in the number of Italian teams has left lesser-known riders scrambling for places in the peloton.
According to Gazzetta dello Sport, who has scrutinised the numbers, 49 out of 226 Italian riders are still without a team, with the new season just days away. That is 21.6 per cent of the total.
While Danilo Di Luca has found a place at Katusha after completing his ban for blood doping, riders of the calibre of Angelo Furlan, Alberto Loddo and Andrea Tonti are still looking for a ride. Furlan finished a close second to Oscar Freire at last year’s Paris-Tours, while Tonti was part of the Italian team for the world championships in Australia.
Loddo has won 25 races during his nine-year career and beat Alessandro Petacchi in a sprint at the Giro di Sardegna last year while riding for Androni Giocattoli. He has revealed the costs of being a professional outweighed his salary.
“In 2010 I earned 1,600 Euro a month but considering all the costs, I ended up losing money,” he told Gazzetta dello Sport.
“It’s a pity because I beat Petacchi and think I deserved a contract. I had an agreement with Team Type 1 and everything seemed sorted out but I haven’t heard anything since then, not even from my agent. I’m not expecting any surprises and will soon have to start looking for job.”
Tonti is hopeful of finding a team in the next few days while Furlan has given himself a further 15 days before accepting his career is over.
“It’s all about a few centimetres,” Furlan said. “Freire just edged me out in the sprint, otherwise I’d have a team by now. Fortunately everyone knows what I’m like and I’m still training hard. I’ve given myself 15 days to find a team, otherwise I’ll throw in the towel and think about the future. I might have a chance of working for the Italian Federation as a contact between the off road and road sectors.”
Christian Prudhomme, the director of the Tour de France, has called for a rapid conclusion to the Alberto Contador doping investigation, hoping a verdict can be reached before the season gets fully under way.
On Tuesday UCI President Pat McQuaid took a more pessimistic view, suggesting Contador could miss the Tour de France if the case goes to appeal at the Court of Arbitration for Sport. Prudhomme hoped for a far more rapid conclusion.
"I expect a response as soon as possible, as quickly as possible. The Spanish Federation and the UCI must decide before the season starts," he told Marca while attending the presentation of the 2011 Vuelta a Espana route in Benidorm.
Amaury Sports Organisation (ASO) owns the Tour de France and 49 per cent of Unipublic that organises the Vuelta. Prudhomme predicted the 2011 Vuelta would be another close race.
"I think it’s an interesting route, with mountain finishes spread throughout the race and stage finale that promise plenty of emotions. Like last season, the result will be undecided until the last kilometre.”
"The return of the Vuelta to the Basque Country is also very important, especially for the Euskaltel team and the Basque cycling fans who love cycling so much.”