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Second Edition Cycling News, Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Date published:
March 23, 2011, 0:00 GMT
  • USA Cycling reintroduces radio ban

    Jonathan Vaughters
    Article published:
    March 23, 2011, 0:06 GMT
    By:
    Cycling News

    Decision keeps UCI registered teams involved in NRC

    Just over a week after it lifted a radio ban for the National Racing Calendar (NRC) and national championship events, USA Cycling has today reversed its decision.

    When USA Cycling made the decision to reintroduce radio contact between teams and their riders, board of directors president Bill Peterson said: "We have spent considerable time discussing this issue with many experienced racers, team managers and race organizers; we have yet to find anyone make a convincing case to eliminate race radios. Therefore we are allowing radios within the races we control, and I suspect many countries around the world will follow our lead."

    The UCI objected strongly to the decision, sending a letter of reprimand to USA Cycling. Just what was in the letter is not known however. Given today’s decision, it was enough to sway opinion over the controversial issue.

    "After consultation with the UCI, it is apparent that allowing race radios in domestic NRC races would negatively impact the UCI-registered teams and riders who would no longer be allowed to compete in these events," explained Peterson via statement a press statement.

    "The absence of UCI registered teams and riders would have a highly detrimental impact, not only on the team sponsors, but also on the hard working NRC promoters and the sponsors and communities who support these races."

    Steve Johnson, USA Cycling CEO added: "While we remain convinced of the value of race radios with regard to their potential for increased safety for riders and spectators... we will respect the UCI's request to continue the ban of race radios in national calendar races and national championships."

  • Six years of the battle for cycling power

    UCI president Pat McQuaid has been nominated for membership to the International Olympic Committee.
    Article published:
    March 23, 2011, 5:03 GMT
    By:
    Pierre Carrey

    Cyclingnews recalls the main teams, UCI and organisers fights

    The project of a breakaway league in pro cycling, possibly led by 11 teams, as Cyclingnews revealed on Monday, is the latest round in the seemingly never-ending power struggle. The best way to understand the dispute between the teams, organisers and the UCI is study the previous battle between 2004 and 2008.

    April 22, 2004: The ProTour is launched
    The UCI's Professionnal Cycling Council (PCC) announced the rules of a new "ProTour" in Liege. It would be a new cycling organisation which would start in 2005: the 18 best teams in the world ride the 28 best races, including the three Grand Tours. Among the 12 PCC members were Jean-Marie Leblanc (Tour de France director), Carmine Castellano (former Giro organiser), Manolo Saiz (ONCE general manager) and Jim Ochowicz (current Team BMC general manager).

    June 2004: The first problems
    Three teams announced they would refuse to apply for a four-year licence: Lotto-Domo (which disappeared that winter), Fassa Bortolo and Saeco (both of which later reversed their decision). In Italy, Germany and France, national federations said the UCI's project was questionable.

    September 2004: ASO accepts 'test' status
    During the world championships in Verona, Jean-Marie Leblanc signed a ProTour agreement with the UCI but Patrice Clerc, the ASO president, refused ASO's involvement for four years. He accepted, however, his events would be part of the 2005 ProTour, as "a test".

    On September 28, Christian Prudhomme, told Cyclismag: "Hein Verbruggen [UCI president] copied the American closed system principle,...

  • Confident Ballan arrives in Belgium after strong Milan-San Remo 2011 showing

    Alessandro Ballan (BMC)
    Article published:
    March 23, 2011, 6:40 GMT
    By:
    Barry Ryan

    Italian views Cancellara as the danger man on the cobbles

    Alessandro Ballan (BMC) arrived in Belgium on Tuesday ahead of the cobbled classics and the former world champion is confident that he is back to the kind of form that saw him win the Tour of Flanders in 2007. Ballan finished in 4th place at Saturday’s Milan-San Remo 2011, where he had ample opportunity to measure himself against his principal rivals for glory in the coming weeks.

    “I’m very happy with my start to the season, because after two years with a lot of problems I’m back at the front in the finale of the important races that I like,” Ballan told Cyclingnews in Kortrijk. “Two second places and 4th in San Remo show that I’m back to being the rider I was in 2008, 2007 and 2006. The only thing missing is a win.”

    Ballan contributed generously to one of the finest editions of Milan-San Remo in recent memory and he was particularly pleased with the way his BMC squad took the initiative when the peloton split on the Le Manie, with 90km still to go. Along with Omega Pharma-Lotto, Ballan and his cohorts provided much of the manpower in the front group.

    His teammate Greg Van Avermaet then managed to slip clear in a four-man break on the descent of the Cipressa, and then attacked alone on the Poggio, but Ballan admitted that BMC would have been better served had Van Avermaet saved himself for the sprint and left Ballan himself to go on the offensive.

    “Van Avermaet anticipated a little, perhaps it should have been the opposite: it would have been better if I had attacked and if Greg, being quicker in the...

  • Petacchi back on form after Volta a Catalunya win

    Alessandro Petacchi (Lampre-ISD) takes the win
    Article published:
    March 23, 2011, 12:33 GMT
    By:
    Cycling News

    Veteran Italian learning to live without a lead out

    Alessandro Petacchi (Lampre-ISD) finally won his first race of the season at the Volta Ciclista a Catalunya and is convinced he has shaken off the bad luck and illness that that have wrecked his early season.

    Petacchi beat Jose Joaquin Rojas Gil (Movistar) and Manuel Cardoso (RadioShack) in the sprint in Banyoles on Tuesday. He missed the Tour of Qatar and other races in February due to severe asthma problems and was almost forced to miss Milan-San Remo. He recovered in time to ride, finishing 12th, in the group that was 27 seconds behind winner Matt Goss (HTC-Highroad).

    “I’d never ridden Milan-San Remo without having won a race but this is only the start,” he told Gazzetta dello Sport.

    “This win is for my son. Before San Remo he gave me a lucky bracelet which I’ll never take off again now. The secret is the ten white stones on it. Ten is the date he was born.”

    Petacchi now faces several days of suffering as the Volta Ciclista a Catalunya heads into the hills. He hopes to win Sunday’s flat stage and will then begin preparing for the Giro d’Italia. His only race before the Corsa Rosa will be  the Giro del Trentino.

    In the summer Petacchi is expected to return to the Tour de France to defend his green points jersey from 2010. During last year’s race he was embroiled in a doping investigation but Italian police and the Italian anti-doping investigators have so far not formalised any charges against the 37-year-old sprinter. His close friend and former teammate Lorenzo Bernucci was caught up in the same investigation and confessed to...

  • Dwars Door Vlaanderen: start line picture gallery

    Belgian champion Stijn Devolder (Vacansoleil-DCM) is a popular man in Flanders.
    Article published:
    March 23, 2011, 14:00 GMT
    By:
    Barry Ryan

    The riders line up in Roeselare

    Clear skies, pleasant temperatures and huge crowds greeted the riders as they assembled in Roeselare for Dwars Door Vlaanderen on Wednesday. After Saturday’s shoot-out in San Remo, the Classics focus shifts north, and the race from Roeselare to Waregem sees the countdown to the Tour of Flanders begin in earnest.

    Many of the big names who will be battling for Ronde supremacy in ten days’ time were on the startline in Roeselare’s Grote Markt. As ever in Flanders, Tom Boonen drew the largest cheers from the passionate fans, and he will be looking to ignite Quick Step’s season with a big showing on the road to Waregem.

    He will face stiff opposition from Fabian Cancellara (Leopard Trek), who looked in ominous form in Italy at the weekend. Alessandro Ballan (BMC) is another man in good condition, but although the former world champion is still seeking his first win of the season, he told Cyclingnews that BMC’s plan would be to set Greg Van Avermaet up for the sprint finish.

    However, André Greipel, who leads Omega Pharma-Lotto in the absence of Philippe Gilbert, said that a sprint finish was unlikely in Waregem, with the climb of the Oude Kwaremont at 165km likely to rip the field to pieces.

    Garmin-Cervélo have brought a strong line-up, and both Tyler Farrar and Heinrich Haussler will be seeking to make amends for a disappointing outing in Milan-San Remo. Juan Antonio Flecha (Sky) and Lars Boom (Rabobank) also lined up at the head of solid teams in Roeselare.

    Yoann Offredo leads the FDJ challenge, although his manager Marc Madiot was less than expansive on his chances. Madiot  described his charge’s performance in San Remo was “good” and told Cyclingnews that Offredo would be...

  • Bruyneel criticises the UCI and talks about a possible breakaway league

    Johan Bruyneel ties up a few loose ends before the start of stage one.
    Article published:
    March 23, 2011, 15:10 GMT
    By:
    Cycling News

    RadioShack team manager vents his anger in interview

    Johan Bruyneel has hit back at UCI president Pat McQuaid, insisting the teams have to have a say in how professional cycling is run.

    In a long interview with Belgian newspaper Het Laatste Nieuws, the RadioShack team manager refuted McQuaid’s claims that he is actively working to create a breakaway league, but threatened it could happen.

    "The whole discussion we’re hearing now has begun with Daniel Bilalian of France Télévision. He complained to organizer ASO about the disappointing ratings in the Tour. ASO then went to the UCI. The first consequence of this discussion was the well-known two days in the Tour of 2009 when we raced without ear pieces. I was fully against it then and I still am,” Bruyneel said.

    "The spectator value of cycling really is unaffected by the use of the ear pieces. Cycling is a very difficult sport for television. In the first ten stages of the Tour de France or all those stages of the Tour of Spain through the desert, there is just nothing to see. This is how it is. With or without ear pieces the result will be the same. If Cavendish is in shape, you know in advance that he will win as the interests of cycling teams are so large, the budgets so huge and the teams so well organized.”

    Bruyneel refuted McQuaid’s claim that the riders and teams had been consulted about the decision to ban race radio, suggesting there is a lack of democracy within the UCI.

    "That's not true. There are so many committees within the UCI. McQuaid can always hide himself somewhere and give the responsibility to an obscure committee,” he said. “He speaks of the Conseil du Cyclisme Professionnel, but that committee has no vote. And the Management Committee is not elected democratically...

  • Video: Mixed emotions for Thomas after Dwars door Vlaanderen

    British national champion Geraint Thomas (Team Sky)
    Article published:
    March 23, 2011, 17:45 GMT
    By:
    Daniel Benson

    Second place for Team Sky rider after overeager final move

    Geraint Thomas (Team Sky) was left frustrated after taking second place behind Nick Nuyens (Saxo Bank SunGard) in Dwars door Vlaanderen on Wednesday. The 24-year-old had bridged up the Saxo Bank rider in between the Varenstraat and Vossenhol with 20 kilometres to go and together with the remnants of an early break, held the peloton at bay.

    However coming into the final 300 meters, with the bunch bearing down, Thomas hit the front, effectively leading out Nuyens to the line and allowing him to come through for the win.

    "I'm a bit annoyed with myself because I saw the bunch coming up and got a bit nervous with 300 to go round the final corner. Even though I knew it was a headwind. I'm really annoyed with myself actually," Thomas told Cyclingnews.

    Despite his disappointment with the result, Thomas deserves much credit for his performance. On the Eikenberg, he was forced to chase back to the leaders after a mechanical problem. And when Nuyens put the hammer down on both the Kwaremont and near Vossenhol, it was Thomas who answered both moves.

    "I had a bit of a mechanical early on and was out the back on the Eikenberg, but if I'd known the roads better I would have gone a bit steady. I was a bit nervous and was fighting to get to the front and didn't really have the legs in the final 10 kilometres."

    Coming into the finish Nuyens and Thomas shared the work as Frederic Amorison (Landbouwkrediet) and Rob Goris (Veranda's Willems-Accent) both slipped back.

    Asked if a different tactical approach to the final kilometre would have ended in a different result, Thomas...

  • Nuyens reaps benefits of change at Dwars Door Vlaanderen

    Nick Nuyens (Saxo Bank - Sungard)
    Article published:
    March 23, 2011, 18:29 GMT
    By:
    Barry Ryan

    Changes in team, mentality and fortune improve Belgian's build-up

    Nick Nuyens (Saxo Bank-SunGard) was happy to put an indifferent spell at Rabobank behind him with a bold victory at Dwars Door Vlaanderen. The Belgian held off a fast-closing chase group and outsprinted Geraint Thomas (Sky) to take the win in Waregem.

    After crossing the line, Nuyens explained that he has trained himself to become less sensitive to the criticism that he had faced in recent years and had consequently enjoyed a more relaxed build-up to the Classics.

    "This year I haven't really been reading the papers or watching too much television," Nuyens said. "If I don't win, it's not because I'm a bad rider. You can't change people's opinions. Perhaps I used to try to do that, but like I said, I don't read the papers anymore. I just concentrate on racing and my work."

    Nuyens' final season at Rabobank was hampered by crashes and illness, but this time around he has reaped the benefits of a winter free of health problems.

    "I really had great condition last year, but I had three crashes and two weeks of antibiotics," he said. "Some people said they were just excuses but that wasn't true. Then afterwards, I didn't feel great in the team. It's a good team, but it wasn't working for me."

    Nuyens opted to leave Rabobank at the end of last season and was signed to head up Saxo Bank-SunGard's Classics team after the defection of a number of its star names to Leopard Trek.

    "This year is another year, and I felt good straight away," he said. "They [Saxo Bank] have placed a lot of confidence in me and allowed me to prepare calmly for the Classics. Even after Milan-San...