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Second Edition Cycling News, Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Date published:
March 30, 2011, 1:00 BST
  • V Australia aims to win Redlands Bicycle Classic

    After the preem, team Fly V Australia takes over the lead riding toward the finish.
    Article published:
    March 30, 2011, 4:19 BST
    Kirsten Frattini

    Continental team targets events in US and Asia

    Australian-based UCI Continental squad V Australia will begin its season Stateside at the National Racing Calendar (NRC) opener, the Redlands Bicycle Classic, held from March 31 to April 3 in California. The 15-man team will target the majority of NRC events this season, in addition to select stage races in Asia.

    "We've got some very good sprinters and we will try and get them on the podium as much as we can," said directeur sportif Henk Vogels. "Obviously losing Ben Day left a hole but we have one or two guys that can step up into that role with [Darren] Rolfe and [Johnny] Walker. We want to try and win as many races as possible over here."

    The season's roster includes Walker and Rolfe, plus Jonathan Cantwell, Bernie Sulzberger, Christopher Winn, Taylor Sheldon, Sean Sullivan, Hayden Brooks, Ben Kersten, Michael Freiberg, Cameron Peterson, Nick Walker, Zach Davies and Scott Law.

    Rolfe, former Australian national time trial champion and runner up at the Tour de Beauce, will lead the team at the Redlands Bicycle Classic. The eight-man team for that event includes Cantwell, Sulzberger, Winn, Sheldon, Sullivan, Brooks and Peterson.

    "We have a couple of guys here capable of winning Redlands; it just depends on how the GC goes because there are so many time bonuses up for grabs," Vogels said. "We will have to stay within striking distance of the best five guys. Beaumont [stage two] is harder and Sunset [stage four] is always hard to defend, it is a very hard race to control and my guys will be animated this week."

    Noticeably absent from the team's full roster is recent San Dimas winner and Redlands Bicycle Classic defending champion Ben Day, who found a home with the Kenda/5-hour Energy outfit for the 2011 season after his contract with the proposed Pegasus Sports ProTeam fell through.

    "It feels a little strange to be at a race like this and Day is on another team," Vogels said. "I classify him as being one of my riders...

  • Team Movistar counting on Valverde's return after suspension

    Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne) was well out of contention for the win.
    Article published:
    March 30, 2011, 9:52 BST
    Cycling News

    Manager Unzue says team needs the strong leader

    Alejandro Valverde will have his choice of teams to ride for when he returns from his doping suspension next season, but Eusebio Unzué hopes he will come back to his team, now called Movistar but formerly Caisse d'Epargne.

    “Valverde is one of the greatest, and will be on the agenda of many teams,” Movistar  team manager Unzue told the Diario de Navarra.  “Riders of a certain level are on the minds of many teams.”

    “We will try to help Alejandro not to lose his brilliance in this year and a half during his ban, and then agree to his return.”

    Valverde rode with the team from 2005 until his suspension.

    Unzue praised the commitment from his new sponsor.  “With such a structure, it is evident that we must aspire to be good riders, we need a strong leader.  And we are working for 2012 as well.  Because of our personal and professional relations, and because of his knowledge of our structures, we are going to fight for Valverde to return with us."

  • Basso disappointed by March results

    Ivan Basso (Liquigas - Cannondale)
    Article published:
    March 30, 2011, 10:35 BST
    Cycling News

    Italian's spring form better than in 2010

    Ivan Basso (Liquigas-Cannondale) has declared himself disappointed with his results in March, as he failed to make the impact he wished in both Tirreno-Adriatico and the Volta a Catalunya. After an effervescent opening to the season that included victory in February’s GP Lugano, the Italian fell short of his expectations in the past month.

    “I’m the first one not to be satisfied with what I gathered in March and in such cases it’s right to recognise that,” Basso said. “My objectives were, and are, to ride the spring at a high level.”

    Basso was 7th on the queen mountain stage to Andorra in the Volta a Catalunya, and would finish in the same position overall. While Basso was not content with this result, nor with his 4th place finish at Tirreno, he was able to console himself with the knowledge that his form is currently more advanced than it was this time last year.

    “My athletic performance was positive, better than it was in the spring of 2010,” Basso said. “For this reason the fact that I didn’t win doesn’t worry me: the condition is there. Now I will tackle the April races, with routes that on paper are more demanding and more suited to my characteristics, so I’m convinced I can do well.”

    This optimism was echoed by Liquigas trainer Paolo Slongo, who believes that Basso’s qualities of endurance will yield greater dividends as the year progresses.

    “Ivan’s resistance is his strong point,” Slongo said. “We can compare his motor to a diesel: the peak performance does not come immediately but over long distances. The athletic tests that we did before and after the two races confirmed Ivan’s good...

  • Bennati ends classics campaign to build towards Giro d'Italia

    Daniele Bennati (Ita) Leopard Trek took second
    Article published:
    March 30, 2011, 10:48 BST
    Barry Ryan

    Italian fears cobbles could aggravate Achilles tendon injury

    Daniele Bennati (Leopard Trek) was agonisingly close to taking his first win of the season at Gent-Wevelgem on Sunday, but in spite of the strong showing in Belgium he will not line up in the remainder of the spring classics.

    The Italian sprinter had been not initially pencilled in to ride the Tour of Flanders or Paris-Roubaix in order to allow him to prepare for the Giro d’Italia. However, his recent strong showings could well have prompted a rethink, were it not for the fears that the effects of the pavé might have on a nagging Achilles tendon injury.

    “I’m very sorry, because these races fascinate me and because I’d have liked to have been of help to Cancellara,” Bennati told Gazzetta dello Sport. “Even on Sunday after the race we had a meeting with the heads of the team. They asked me if I was really certain that I wasn’t riding [the rest of the classics]. With a heavy heart I said I was. I’ll ride the Circuit de la Sarthe and the Tour of Romandie, and you’ll see me at the Giro.”

    Bennati battled an injured right Achilles tendon in his final two seasons at Liquigas, and consequently limited his racing on the cobbles.

    “Nobody is able to provide me with the certainty that the tendon wouldn’t inflame as a result of the vibrations of the pavé,” Bennati said. “At the end of the season we’ll see if it might be a case of having some special therapy or an operation. But first they must guarantee me that the solution would be definitive.”

    So close in Wevelgem

    Bennati clocked up his fifth second place finish of the campaign at Gent-Wevelgem,...

  • Sagan looking to learn at Tour of Flanders

    Peter Sagan (Liquigas-Cannondale) was already in fine form at the weekend.
    Article published:
    March 30, 2011, 11:23 BST
    Cycling News

    Liquigas manager thinks young Slovak can make the top ten

    Peter Sagan is heading into his first Tour of Flanders this weekend and admits that he knows nothing about the course. While the 21-year-old confessed, “I still have much to learn,” his team manger thinks he can finish in the top ten on Sunday.

    Sagan made his pro debut last season with Liquigas, and exploded onto the scene with five wins and numerous top placings. "I have new responsibilities, but after my first year as a professional I know what I'm worth,” he told Sportwereld. “I know how I can win. "

    The Slovak already has four wins this season, taking three stages along the way to the overall title at the Tour of Sardinia. Most recently, he shone in Gent-Wevelgem, as part of a break group which was caught only near the end of the race.

    For the Tour of Flanders this weekend, he confessed to knowing “Precious little. Sorry, I don't know. The Bosberg? My apologies, I cannot imagine it. On Friday, we will do a route reconnaissance. I still have much to learn. "

    "Last year I first discovered the Flemish Ardennes. I rode the opening weekend and Paris-Roubaix. Gent-Wevelgem and now all that follows. I ride this time both the Flemish and Walloon cycling monuments. I'll mostly gain experience. "

    He has not let his successes go to his head. “I must be honest: I still have much to learn from guys like Fabian Cancellara, Tom Boonen and Philippe Gilbert. I will watch them closely, but I am still not at the same level.”

    Team manager...

  • Wagner out of Classics with broken shinbone

    Robert Wagner (Leopard Trek) signals a wheel change is needed.
    Article published:
    March 30, 2011, 13:46 BST
    Cycling News

    Hit by organizer's car in E-3 Prijs

    A race committee car knocked into Leopard Trek's Robert Wagner during the E-3 Prijs, breaking his leg and putting an end to his Spring season. He must now wait four to six weeks before racing again.

    During the race last weekend, the German gave eventual race winner Fabian Cancellara his rear wheel after the Italian puncture. On his way back to the peloton, a race committee car hit him. “He knocked me off my bike,” Wagner told He had to abandon, as “the pain made it impossible to continue.”

    However, he still got back in the saddle the next day at Gent-Wevelgem, but had to abandon there too, after only 20 km.

    Subsequent medical exams showed that he had broken the upper shinbone. He will not need surgery, team doctor Andreas Gösele said on the team website: "I have recommended a straightforward treatment for Robert. When treated with care, he will completely recover from the fracture.”

    The fracture knocks Wagner, 28, out of the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix. “I was set to ride the Classics, and since we have defending champion Cancellara and I would have had the honour of riding for him, so it is of course extra frustrating,” he said.

    "It’s always a pity having to replace a rider,” said Directeur Sportif Torsten Schmidt. “Robert, in particular, has been a fantastic support to his captain.”

  • Neo-pro Nizzolo to replace Wagner in Leopard Trek team for Tour of Flanders

    Giacomo Nizzolo (Leopard Trek)
    Article published:
    March 30, 2011, 18:54 BST
    Daniel Benson

    Italian shocked but happy to make team for Sunday

    Neo-professional Giacomo Nizzolo (Leopard Trek) will replace Robert Wagner in the team for Sunday’s Tour of Flanders after the German was ruled out through injury. He was hit by a commissars car in last week’s E3 Prijs Vlaanderen and suffered a broken leg.

    Wagner's poor fortune, however, gives 22-year-old Nizzolo his first taste of the Spring Classics as Leopard Trek aims to fire Fabian Cancellara to victory.

    “I’m extremely happy to be riding Flanders for the first time. Honoured, actually, to be able to help the team in this extremely important race,” Nizzolo said.

    “I was in Milan when Luca Guercilena called me. At first, I thought he was joking. I couldn’t believe it.

    “This is my first year as a pro and this might be the highlight of my maiden season. Still, it’s unfortunate that I get this chance at the cost of my teammate, Robert Wagner. I feel sorry for him, because he has been working for months toward this goal.”

    Nizzolo has only raced over cobbles as an under 23 rider – Paris-Roubaix 2009 – but will put that limited knowledge to one side as he goes into Flanders full of enthusiasm.

    “I think Flanders is one of the most beautiful races on the calendar. Probably the most historic and heroic one, after Milan-San Remo. I’m Italian, you know…The steep climbs, the cobblestones, the crowds: it all adds to the value of a race like Flanders. I think it’s fascinating,” he said.

    “Still, I’m not afraid, not at all. I know I’m in the best team imaginable when it comes to cobbles. Fabian Cancellara and Torsten...

  • Oss and young Liquigas-Cannondale team look ahead to Tour of Flanders

    Daniel Oss (Liquigas)
    Article published:
    March 30, 2011, 21:00 BST
    Barry Ryan

    Italian recovered from Coppi e Bartali TTT crash

    Daniel Oss and his Liquigas-Cannondale team were to the fore in the finale of stage two of the Three Days of De Panne as they fought to set up Peter Sagan for the sprint. While Sagan would ultimately have to settle for third place, Oss was nonetheless pleased with his own form and that of his young teammate ahead of Sunday’s Tour of Flanders.

    After stage one had failed to break up the race as anticipated, the seemingly more straightforward second leg saw a number of riders eliminated from overall contention on the short series of hellingen that punctuated the middle section of the stage. On crossing the finish line, Oss explained that the wind had helped to split the field.

    “Yesterday was also hard, as it was fast, but there wasn’t a lot of wind so people could hold the wheels, plus on the first day people have a lot more energy,” Oss told Cyclingnews in Koksijde. “Today there was more wind and it was more of a battle on the few muri that there were on the stage, although at the same time we came to the finish in quite a big group.”

    Liquigas-Cannondale joined in HTC-Highroad’s efforts to bring back the three rider break that animated the closing 50km, as they sought to propel Peter Sagan to stage victory.

    “We were working to bring Peter to the finish in the sprint, and he got a decent third place,” Oss said. “Above all he’s going well, so we’re hopeful for Sunday.”

    In spite of crashing during the team time trial at last week’s Settimana Coppi e Bartali, Oss was prominent at Gent-Wevelgem on Sunday, although he...