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Second Edition Cycling News, Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Date published:
March 02, 2011, 0:00 GMT
  • 2011 Tour of Flanders wild card invitations announced

    Skil-Shimano is presented.
    Article published:
    March 02, 2011, 3:38 GMT
    Cycling News

    Skil-Shimano, FDJ, Europcar also among seven invited teams

    The Dutch team Skil-Shimano has been awarded a wild card invitation to the Tour of Flanders, reported today. It is one of seven Professional Continental teams to earn a start, along with Belgian squads Landbouwkrediet, Topsport Vlaanderen, Veranda's Willems and French teams Cofidis, FDJ and Europcar.

    Along with the wild cards, all 18 ProTeams complete a roster of 25 squads which will take part in the Ronde van Vlaanderen on April 3.

    Invitations to World Calendar races are highly sought after this year, as new UCI rules take into account the points earned in the World Calendar races in calculating which teams will enter into the top division in 2012.

    It was announced yesterday that Skil-Shimano earned a spot in another Spring Classic, the Amstel Gold Race.

  • Sky high start for Sean Yates' men

    The masterminds behind Team Sky: Sean Yates (l) and Dave Brailsford.
    Article published:
    March 02, 2011, 3:56 GMT
    Les Clarke

    British directeur sportif says 2010 was no failure

    Team Sky's start to 2011 has proven directeur sportif Sean Yates's belief that his team would improve on its 2010 performance, which he says was not disappointing, contrary to what was written in the press.

    The British squad has started the year in fine fashion, winning two stages of the Santos Tour Down Under with Ben Swift and the recent Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne with Australia's Chris Sutton.

    Asked earlier this year whether the team would aim to maintain its momentum following the second of its Tour Down Under stage wins given that it had dropped off the pace somewhat following last season's Down Under success with Sutton, Yates quickly replied with a smile, "I would contest that statement!"

    "We finished the year in sixth place [in terms of race wins] and this really rangles me that you guys give us a hard time," he continued, feigning indignance. "We had the sixth most wins of all teams, sixth on the teams classification of the ProTour, we qualified ourselves for the Tour de France and we're sitting at number eight in this year's ProTour list."

    The experienced Briton puts the public - and media - perception of the team's shortcomings down to Sky's Tour de France performance. Bradley Wiggins was disappointing in the fight for general classification honours, although Yates believes there's too much focus on what is done in that race on which to judge the entire season.

    "Obviously, yeah, we didn't do jack shit at the Tour de France in a way, because too much focus was put on that race, in my opinion. There are other bike races that count and we performed on a regular basis from the start until the finish of the year," he said.

    "As I said, okay, we didn't perform at the Tour - we tried, and got close on a few occasions; G [Geraint Thomas] had the young riders' jersey and almost took yellow... so I think last year was far from disappointing, overall.

    "We'll be stronger this year - we'll be better."


  • Kupfernagel as guest rider with Team Horizon Fitness RT in 2011

    Hanka Kupfernagel will be a guest rider with Team Horizon Fitness in 2011
    Article published:
    March 02, 2011, 9:30 GMT
    Cycling News

    German with small British team as guest rider

    Hanka Kupfernagel will ride for the British Team Horizon Fitness RT for the 2011 road season as a guest rider. The German will concentrate on preparing for the world time trial championship, with an eye to the 2012 London Olympics as well.

    "This is a great and new challenge for me,” Kupfernagel said in a press release. “The Thüringer Rundfahrt is a major goal for me this season. And I am looking forward to riding with this young, hungry and motivated team this season.”

    Horizon Fitness RT is a developmental team for young riders, many of whom come from the GB Academy programme. The team plans to turn professional in 2012, in time for the London Olympics.

    Kupfernagel, 36, won the world time trial title in Stuttgart in 2007, and is a four-time cyclo-cross world champion. She finished just off the podium in fourth at this year's 'cross championship in St. Wendel, Germany. Kupfernagel competed for the German national team in road races the recent years.

    "We want to take part in the two biggest events in Germany,” said team manger Stefan Wyman. “One is the Thüringen Rundfahrt in July and the other is the Sparkassen Giro in Bochum. Thüringen is a very professionally organised six-day stage race. Every aspect of this race meets the highest standards and we look forward to being part of the high-class starter field.”

    2011 is primarily aimed at “the further development of our riders, so that we will be in the best position to become a professional team in 2012,” he added. “We have some excellent riders and they can learn a lot under the direction of a world-class athlete like Hanka.”

  • Nygaard not worried about lack of Leopard Trek victories

    Andy Schleck (Leopard Trek) gets his race underway
    Article published:
    March 02, 2011, 9:57 GMT
    Daniel Simms

    Schleck questions Contador's plan to target the Giro d'Italia

    Leopard Trek team manager Brian Nygaard is not worried that his team has yet to win a race, pointing out the string of placings by sprinter Daniele Bennati.

    Nygaard was speaking during the announcement of new co-sponsor Enovos. At the same event Andy Schleck questioned Tour de France rival Alberto Contador's plan to ride and possibly win the Giro d'Italia  before also targeting the Tour de France.

    Enovos is a Luxembourg-based energy company which services Luxembourg, Germany and France. The company's name appears on the sleeves and collar of the Leopard Trek kit. 

    Leopard Trek is one of five teams which has still to win a race this season but Nygaard said Bennati's first win “is just a matter of time.”  “All of our riders are where they should be at this point in the season,” he insisted.

    Bennati finished second on two stages at both the Tour of Qatar and the Tour of Oman.

    “I am happy to see him at this level. He had a bad 2010 because of injuries. We've put our trust in him and he has shown us that he will pay us back,” Nygaard said.

    The Danish team manager preferred to see the Italian's results in a positive light. Not as “only twice four times,” but “already twice four times.”

    Nygaard is also not worried that his two star stage race riders, Andy and Fränk Schleck, have yet to achieve any major results. And neither are the Luxembourg brothers.

    "At this early stage of the season, I am not yet one hundred percent, but that's normal,” Andy Schleck said.

    The younger Schleck brother has his sights...

  • Rabobank's early successes the payback for years of work, Breukink says

    Sebastian Langeveld (Rabobank) on the podium
    Article published:
    March 02, 2011, 11:16 GMT
    Cycling News

    No secret to success as Dutch team looks to win one of the Classics

    The Rabobank squad has had an exceptional start to the 2011 season: not only does it have more wins than any other team so far, it also won the opening race of the Belgian season, Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, for the first time ever.

    Theo Bos, Robert Gesink and Oscar Freire have each contributed two victories, with Michael Matthews, Lars Boom and Sebastian Langeveld taking one each.

    Sport Director Erik Breukink seems to be just as surprised as anyone else. “I have no idea what the secret is,” he told

    Whatever it is, it is not an overnight success. “You can't say what one thing we have done to succeed. There is no button to push and it will work. This is the work of years, paying off now.”

    Breukink does not assume, however, that this streak will guarantee wins in the top Spring Classics. "No, there are never guarantees, even though we have riders who can do that. Oscar Freire in Milan-San Remo for example.

    "But we have to keep our feet on the ground. This is sport, you know that hard times will come again. We have a stable organization, it is important to work calmly. Although we look at it this way: if we don't win one of the five major Spring Classics, the spring won't be a success.”

  • Riccò’s soigneur denies being involved in suspected blood transfusion

    Flavio Mongiardo (Vacansoleil) at the start
    Article published:
    March 02, 2011, 11:27 GMT
    Cycling News

    Flavio Mongiardo threatens to sue Vacansoleil after being sacked

    Riccardo Riccò’s personal soigneur Flavio Mongiardo has denied any involvement in the Italian rider’s alleged botched blood transfusion.  He has also suggested that Riccò was in such a critical condition when he was taken to hospital that he would not have been able to confess to undergoing a blood transfusion.

    Mongiardo was sacked by the Vacansoleil team on Friday but is threatening to take legal action against the team. He revealed he is in a relationship with Riccò’s sister and defended Riccò’, describing him as ‘an exceptional person.’

    “I’ve been doing this job for 20 years and now nobody wants anything to do with me,” Mongiardo lamented to Gazzetta dello Sport.

    “I’ve got nothing to hide. I’ve got nothing to do with what happened. I’m not under investigation and the investigating magistrate hasn’t contacted me. I’ve been distanced (from the team) without a valid reason despite having a year-long contract and so the team will have to pay for that.”

    “In the letter they sent me on Friday the team has justified my sacking with the fact that I don’t speak English, that I only work with Riccò and that I’m close to his family. I respond to that by saying that I also worked with other riders and that I followed two races: The Tour Méditerranéen and in Portugal, and Riccò’ wasn’t there...” At the time Riccò was in a critical condition in hospital.

    An exceptional person

    Mongiardo worked for the Astana team until last summer, before joining Vacansoleil with Riccò. He went to live to in Serramazzoni,...

  • Bettini and Italian time triallists prepare at Tuscan training camp

    Italian coach Paolo Bettini was on hand to keep an eye on his riders' form.
    Article published:
    March 02, 2011, 11:44 GMT
    Barry Ryan

    Italian coach hopes to bring team to London pre-Olympic race in August

    Italian national team manager Paolo Bettini is overseeing a time trial training camp in Tuscany in a bid to improve his country’s fortunes against the clock at the world championships. No Italian rider took part in the elite time trial in Geelong last year and the country has won just one medal in the event since its introduction in 1994, when Andrea Chiurato took silver behind Chris Boardman.

    “A special training camp for the time trial: it's a hard task but one where it’s necessary to motivate the athletes in for them to grow,” Bettini told Tuttobici. “I’m looking to the next Worlds and I would like to participate with a precise objective in mind in this discipline too.”

    Marco Pinotti (HTC-Highroad) is the most experienced time triallist present at the Marina di Bibbona camp, which runs until Thursday. He is joined by Dario Cataldo (Quick Step), Alfredo Balloni (Lampre-ISD), Adriano Malori (Lampre-ISD), Alan Marangoni (Liquigas-Cannondale) and Manuel Quinziato (BMC).

    Four riders from the Italian under 23 squad (Diego Florio, Gianluca Leonardi, Metto Mammini and Alessandro Stocco) are also on hand, along with their manager Marino Amadori.

    Bettini hopes that the novel training camp will be just the first of many he will have to work with his charges first hand this season. In 2010, he brought an experimental Italian selection to the Giro del Veneto and he is aiming to repeat such trials more...

  • Pellizotti CAS hearing begins in Switzerland

    Franco Pellizotti has cut his blonde curls
    Article published:
    March 02, 2011, 13:16 GMT
    Cycling News

    UCI field five experts in defence of the Biological Passport

    This week could be vital for the future of the UCI’s Biological Passport programme as the Court for Arbitration for Sport studies the Franco Pellizotti case.

    The Italian was snared by the UCI’s Biological Passport programme before last year’s Giro d’Italia after experts identified three suspicious blood values that could have been sparked by blood doping or EPO use. In 2009 Pellizotti finished third in the Giro d'Italia and won the King of the Mountains title at the Tour de France.

    He denied doping and was cleared by the Italian Tribunale Nazionale Anti-doping on October 21, who accepted that his blood values were affected by possible external factors such as altitude training and illness.

    The UCI decided to appeal to CAS and has called on Giuseppe D’Onofrio, Olaf Schumacher, Pierre Edoard Sottas, Michael Ashenden and Martial Saugy to defend the validity of the Biological Passport and give evidence at the hearing.

    D’Onofrio, Schumacher and Ashenden are all part of the independent expert group who analyse the profiles of the riders participating in the biological passport programme.

    According to a report in Gazzetta dello Sport, Liquigas-Cannondale team doctor Roberto Corsetti is with Pellizotti in Lausanne. Corsetti has always defended Pellizotti even after the Italian team decided not to renew his contract. He has been linked to the Spanish team Movistar but team manager Eusebio Unzué has made it clear Pellizotti must clear his name before any deal can be finalised.

    Gazzetta dello Sport claim that Pellizotti has requested that the hearing be considered urgent,...