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Second Edition Cycling News, Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Date published:
January 18, 2012, 23:00
  • Video: Phil Anderson's analysis of Tour Down Under stage 2

    William Clarke (UNI SA - Australia) rides solo to an impressive win
    Article published:
    January 18, 2012, 13:14
    Cycling News

    Australian cycling legend puts Stirling stage under the microscope


  • Musseuw suffered brain damage in 2000 motorcycle accident

    Johan Musseuw (centre) suffered an horrific accident in 2000
    Article published:
    January 18, 2012, 13:53
    Cycling News

    Belgian legend says he's a different person since horror crash

    Johan Musseuw is said to have suffered brain damage in his August 2000 motorcycle accident, leaving him with “frontal syndrome” which causes personality disorders. The Belgian cycling legend discussed the aftermath of the accident in Belgian magazine Humo this week.

    In August 2000, Musseuw was riding his Harley-Davidson along with his wife and son. An car attempted to pass him at the same time that the cyclist started a left hand turn. His wife and son received only minor injuries, but he suffered multiple fractures including his fibula, ribs and eye socket, as well as bleeding in his brain.

    'Frontal lobe syndrome' causes behaviour and personality changes, including distraction, restlessness, a lack of inhibitions, and changes in memory.

    "Since that crash, I am a different person," Musseuw said. "I knew I had suffered brain damage, but the severity of the case did not dawn on me immediately. I was working on my comeback in the peloton. It was the fibula fracture that had me more worried. "

    From the beginning it was clear that there were problems. "At the hospital I did strange things," he said. "I accidentally broke the thumb of a nurse and I called Eddy Merckx to say that I still would participate in the Olympic Games, after the road race has been ridden.

    “In other words, I was half gone mad.”

    Musseuw refused the drugs and therapy he was offered. "I don't need it, because I now find myself to be a better person than before," he said. "That really totally unrestrained behavior after two years has become normal. I'm a different Johan Musseuw, but I have only good things left over [from his earlier personality]."

  • Gallery: Vacansoleil-DCM training in Benidorm

    Johnny Hoogerland is hoping to stay injury free in 2012
    Article published:
    January 18, 2012, 15:00
    Cycling News

    Dutch team stepping things up in Spain

    The Spanish sunshine has been popular with lots of WorldTour teams this winter, with many of them staging their winter training camps there. The latest team fine-tuning their fitness under a Mediterranean sky are Dutch team Vacansoleil-DCM, who have based themselves in Benidorm on the Costa Blanca.

    The likes of Johnny Hoogerland, Bjorn Leukemans and neo-pro Barry Markus are testing themselves on a variety of training runs under the watchful eye of the coaching staff. As you can see from our picture gallery, the team has been busy. It's a big pre-season, in particular for Hoogerland. After a bright start to 2011 in the spring, he suffered a horror crash in the Tour de France that disrupted the rest of his year, and a productive and injury free training camp will be crucial to the completion of his rehabilitation.

  • Amstel Gold Race wildcards announced

    John Degenkolb and Marcel Kittel
    Article published:
    January 18, 2012, 16:40
    Cycling News

    Project 1t4i among the four teams invited

    The Project 1t4i team is among the first four wildcard invitations to the 2012 Amstel Gold Race, which were revealed by race director Leo van Vliet on Wednesday.

    Joining the Dutch squad in the April 15 race are three Belgian outfits, Topsport Vlaanderen-Mercator, Accent-Willems Veranda’s and Landbouwkrediet-Euphony.

    Project 1t4i will have been renamed under the guise of its news sponsor by the time the Amstel Gold Race comes around. The ambitious team missed out on a Giro d’Italia wildcard last week, but is hoping to secure an invitation to the Tour de France.

    Thus far, there is no wildcard birth for teams from outside the Benelux although it is understood that up to two more wildcard places will be assigned before the race. In 2011, Cofidis and Farnese-Neri were invited along with this year's four invitees. The 18 WorldTour teams are automatically invited to the race.

    Wildcards for Amstel Gold Race: Project 1t4i, Topsport Vlaanderen-Mercator, Accent-Willems Veranda’s and Landbouwkrediet-Euphony.

  • Paris-Nice 2012 wildcards announced

    Paris-Nice GC podium: Andreaas Kloden (RadioShack), Tony Martin (Team HTC - Highroad), Bradley Wiggins (Team Sky)
    Article published:
    January 18, 2012, 17:25
    Cycling News

    Four extra teams invited to 70th staging of famous race

    For many fans and riders alike, Paris-Nice is the major highlight of the early season calendar. This year's "Race to the Sun" will take place from March 4-11, and the race organisers have whetted everyone's appetites by announcing the entry list, which also includes the wildcard teams.

    In addition to the 18 WorldTour teams, four wildcards have been granted. Unsurprisingly three of these are the French-based teams Saur-Sojason, Cofidis and Team Europcar. The quartet is completed by Dutch outfit Project 1T4I.

    In last year's race, Tony Martin led home a Germany one-two (with Andreas Kloeden in second place), while Britain's Bradley Wiggins rounded off the podium in third place. The major teams have yet to finalise their line-ups for this year's renewal, but it is safe to assume that there will be a world class field on the start line for what is the landmark 70th staging of the event.

    WorldTour Teams for 2012 Paris-Nice
    AG2R La Mondiale (Fra)
    Astana Pro Team (Kaz)
    Bmc Racing Team (USA)
    Euskaltel-Euskadi (Spa)
    Fdj-Bigmat (Fra)
    Garmin-Barracuda (USA)
    Greenedge Cycling Team (Aus)
    Katusha Team (Rus)
    Lampre-Isd (Ita)
    Liquigas-Cannondale (Ita)
    Lotto Belisol Team (Bel)
    Movistar Team (Spa)
    Omega Pharma-Quickstep (Bel)
    Rabobank Cycling Team (Ned)
    Radioshack-Nissan (Lux)
    Sky Pro Cycling (GBr)
    Team Saxo Bank (Den)
    Vacansoleil-Dcm Pro Cycling Team (Ned)

    Wildcard Entries
    Cofidis (Fra)
    Project 1T4I (Ned)
    Saur-Sojasun (Fra)
    Team Europcar (Fra)

  • Menchov aims for Tour de France glory

    Denis Menchov (Geox-TMC) will be hoping to make an impact in the final week.
    Article published:
    January 18, 2012, 19:17
    Daniel Benson

    Experienced Russian backed by Katusha

    Having ridden for Spanish and Dutch squads throughout his career Denis Menchov (Katusha) has finally returned to mother Russia, signing with Igor Makarov’s super-team. Despite his veteran status, Menchov believes he can win the Tour de France.

    The 33-year-old has finished third on two occasions and has three grand tour titles in his back pocket – bar Alberto Contador he’s the most decorated three-week rider in the peloton and after a turbulent year with Geox he is eager to get back to the Tour de France. In 2011 Geox were left out of the race, with Menchov having to head to the Giro and Vuelta.

    Menchov’s homecoming to Katusha almost happened at end of 2010 when the rider was allowed to leave Rabobank. The Dutch team were keen to promote youth, in particular the promising Robert Gesink who was waiting in the wings. However, contract negotiations took a turn for the worse with Katusha’s Andre Tchmil and the rider trading public blow in the press. Tchmil has since moved on, which helped pave the way for Menchov to sign.

    “At the moment everything is going well and there’s a comfortable atmosphere on the team,” Menchov told Cyclingnews.

    “I don’t want to criticise [Tchmil] because everyone can have their point of view and I respect his work. If he has some personal point of view that’s fine. What we have to do is just show respect.”

    “I’m really happy to be on the team. I was hoping to be here two or three years ago but the main thing is that I’m here now. Because of some circumstances it wasn’t possible that I could come earlier, it’s difficult to say why but there were some certain misunderstanding between myself and Andre Tchmil, but now with the new management things were clear.”

    “It was a logical step in my career to come here and for Russian cycling. Back home this is a very big team and I’m the best GC rider from the country so it’s logical that I’m here.”

    Despite finishing in the top ten in both the Giro and Vuelta last year, Menchov missed out on the Tour, but the 2012 route suits his talents and with Katusha automatically invited due to their WorldTour status he is eager to make up for the lost ride in 2011.

    “This year my main goal is the Tour de France. The route, it suits me, with the more time trial kilometres,” he said.

    In 2010 Tour Menchov finished third but he rarely troubled the pair of Alberto Contador and Andy Schleck, and his main battle was between himself and Samuel Sanchez for the final podium spot.

    “I always think about the win and I think that it’s in my capacity. I’ve won big tours in my career and I was really close to the first place at the Tour. In my last Tour in 2010 it was really the first time I saw that winning was a possibility. I have that experience and I hope I can improve.”

    “I know my goals and I like the big tours. In the last few years I’ve done big tours and I’ve been on a good level. Last year, that was a strange year for me and the team. I don’t think I lost a year at Geox though. It was a new experience and sometimes in life you don’t do the right things and you don’t make the right choices but it’s all experience for the future.”

    Geox were undoubtedly a failure. Off the bike the team had troubles with its UCI licence, and kit failed to arrive in the new year, leading to riders training in all black lycra. Menchov was quick to point out when he realised he’d made a mistake in signing.

    “From the beginning I took a decision to choose a new team and a new suitor and at that moment it was the right choice. It didn’t turn out that well.”

    “The first impression was very important and how we started. We didn’t have a licence, there was problems with some sponsors, some of the management and we were told that everything would come later, later.”

    Menchov’s programme with Katusha will include Paris-Nice, Tour of Cataluña and the Dauphine ahead of the Tour and while he sees himself as a contender he acknowledged that should Alberto Contador start the race the Spaniard will be the favourite.

    “I think it’s possible I can beat him. Of course. We know he’s one of the best but two years ago I saw some things that made me think I can win the Tour. Maybe he’s not as strong now in the time trials and he’s human after all. If he starts, he’s favourite though.”

  • Velits looks to put injury woes behind him

    Peter Velits (HTC - Highroad)
    Article published:
    January 18, 2012, 22:15
    Barry Ryan

    Slovak building for Tour de France with Omega Pharma-Quick Step

    Peter Velits is confident that he has put his injury problems behind him as he faces into a new campaign in the colours of Omega Pharma-Quick Step. The Slovakian and his twin brother Martin arrive at the overhauled squad after two seasons with the now-defunct HTC-Highroad.

    Third overall at the 2010 Vuelta a España, Velits entered last season with high aspirations for the general classification at the Tour de France. Although he acknowledged that his final 19th place finish in Paris did not quite live up to his expectations, he explained that a niggling injury in the early part of the year had compromised his preparation for the race.

    “I can’t say that it was really bad or disappointing, but of course it could have been better,” Velits told Cyclingnews in Vilvoorde last week. “In the spring I had a little bit of a problem with my leg and then for the Tour, the preparation was not the best. The Tour, it was not a bad one but it also wasn’t a really good one.”

    Velits’s physical issues in 2011 began as early as his first race, when he fell ill at the Volta a Algarve. He reckons that the heavy cold he picked up in Portugal triggered an inflammation of an old injury, and the entire first half of his season was duly compromised.

    “I tore the muscle in a crash before and the doctors have told me that’s my weak point. So when I’m sick, I feel it there also,” Velits said. “The inflammation went to the muscle and it took quite some time until it was healed and that was the problem. Muscular problems can often take longer to sort out than broken bones.”

    As a result of the injury, Velits endured something of a stop-start spring and reached his key preparation events for the Tour with a dearth of training miles in his legs. By the time July rolled around, he found himself short of the condition that had carried him to the Vuelta podium in 2010.

    “With my problems, I couldn’t really finish the spring season out,” he said. “Then after that, I could not start the preparation because there were races coming. I immediately jumped to California and then after that Switzerland. So it wasn’t exactly what I would have wanted and I think could feel it also on the Tour. That’s why the Tour wasn’t as good as I wanted. But at least the leg is all sorted now."

    Moving from Highroad

    While Velits was pedalling his way to 19th place overall in Paris, rumours of the imminent demise of his HTC-Highroad team were continuing to gain traction. By the time the news was confirmed, Velits and his twin brother Peter had already agreed to join Omega Pharma-Quick Step, but in the weeks that followed, they would be joined by a number of former members of Highroad, including directeur sportif Brian Holm.

    “We didn’t know who was going to join Omega Pharma-Quick Step so when we found out that there were more and more people from HTC coming to this team we were really happy,” Velits said.

    Among the riders who made the switch from HTC-Highroad was Tony Martin, however and given that Levi Leipheimer will also line up for Omega Pharma-Quick Step at the Tour, it would be understandable if Velits had concerns about his role come July on a time trial-heavy route well-suited to all three men.

    “No, it’s good that we’re going there with three GC guys who can help each other,” he insisted. “It always depends on how the situation during the race develops, maybe there’s a crash or one of us gets caught at the back and his chances are gone. Besides, I don’t think anyone of us has a problem helping the others. If there’s someone better than me, then for sure I have no problem in helping them.”

    In a bid to avoid the illness and injury that stifled his 2011 campaign, Velits will begin the new season in warmer climes at the Challenge Mallorca and the Tour of Oman, as he works towards his first objective, Tirreno-Adriatico. After the Ardennes classics, his thoughts will turn to his Tour de France build-up.

    “I’ll have a little bit of rest and then do some high-altitude training to get ready for California,” he said. “After that, I think I’ll fly back to St. Moritz again to do more altitude training, before going to the Tour de Suisse and the Tour de France.

    “I already have a plan in my head of what I want to do in preparation for the Tour de France so I hope nothing’s going to break and there’s not going to be problems.”

    The London 2012 Olympics are unlikely to feature on Velits’ agenda, however. Due to the vagaries of the qualification system, Slovakia has just one berth for the two road events, and he admitted that Peter Sagan represents the nation’s best chance of a medal at the Games.

    “I don’t think we’re going to get more places, even if we ask for them,” Velits said resignedly. “Sagan has the most points, so definitely he is the first one who should go there, and he has the best chance if it comes to a sprint. But either way, whether it’s Sagan or me or somebody else, it’s going to be hard when there’s only one guy there.”

  • Seven wildcards named for Gent-Wevelgem

    It's tough to move up on the narrow Flemish roads.
    Article published:
    January 18, 2012, 22:48
    Cycling News

    Project 1t4i gets another nod

    Organisers of Gent-Wevelgem named the full complement of teams to race this year's event, which is set to take place on March 25. In addition to the 18 WorldTour teams, Dutch squad Project 1t4i earned its fourth Classic invitation. The team will also participate in Milan-Sanremo, the Amstel Gold Race and Il Lombardia in addition to the Paris-Nice stage race.

    Also named for this year's 235km race from Deinze to Wevelgem are Belgian teams Topsport Vlaanderen-Mercator, Accent.Jobs-Willems Verandas and Landbouwkrediet-Euphony, which will also feature in the Amstel Gold Race. Additionally, French squads Team Europcar and Cofidis and the Italian Farnese Vini-Selle Italia team will toe the line in Deinze.

    Gent-Wevelgem was expanded in length to include the Casselberg twice, crossing briefly into France in order to do so. As in previous years, the course includes the Kemmelberg twice and then takes in the Monteberg before a relatively flat 34km run to the finish in Wevelgem.

    In 2011, the race was contested as a sizable bunch sprint, and it was the one Classic in which Tom Boonen was able to prevail.

    Wildcards for Gent-Wevelgem: Project 1t4i, Topsport Vlaanderen-Mercator, Accent.Jobs-Willems Verandas, Landbouwkrediet-Euphony, Team Europcar, Cofidis, Farnese Vini-Selle Italia.