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American squad secures Omega Pharma-Lotto rider
American outfit UnitedHealthcare-Maxxis has signed British rider Charles Wegelius for the 2011 season. The 32-year-old has spent the last two seasons as a domestique at Omega Pharma-Lotto, but is expected to play a larger role at UnitedHealthcare-Maxxis as the squad expands its program into Europe.
“I’m looking forward to being part of a new project and hoping to help the younger riders in the team develop and improve,” said Wegelius. “I’m also hoping that the experience will be something new and exciting for me after many years racing a very traditional calendar of events.
“I hope to be a part of the team growing and expanding over the coming years, and that is big motivation for me,” he added.
UnitedHealthcare-Maxxis team director Mike Tamayo hopes Wegelius’ extensive experience will benefit the squad’s younger riders as they’re exposed to European racing next season. Wegelius has spent 10 years competing in Europe after turning professional with Mapei-QuickStep in 2000. The Finland-born rider has also ridden for De Nardi and Liquigas throughout his extensive career.
“Much like Robert Förster will be for our sprinters, Charly brings a wealth of experience and confidence to our stage race squad,” said Tamayo. “He’s raced most of his career at the ProTour level, and he’s done pretty much every race that we expect to do in Europe. Plus he’s started over a dozen Grand Tours, including all three in 2009.
“When we get to the high mountains, we expect him to be able to lead by example, whether it’s in European races, or big races in the U.S. like the Amgen Tour of California, the Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah or the new Quiznos Challenge in Colorado,” Tamayo added. “His experience with positioning for climbs and initiating or following moves will be particularly beneficial for our younger climbers like Max...
Lefevere says his leader is crucial to search for new sponsor
Tom Boonen (Quick Step) finished his truncated and often difficult 2010 season at the Putte-Kappellen race on Tuesday and admitted that he was glad to draw a line under an injury-strewn year.
“Half of me wants to forget it as quickly as possible,” he told Het Nieuwsblad after completing the race that marks the end of the Belgian season.
Boonen was afflicted by knee problems after crashing at both the Tour of California and the Tour de Suisse. He ultimately underwent surgery in July, missing the Belgian championships, Tour de France and world championships. He conceded that it was “a blunder” to return to racing so quickly after his crash at the Tour of California and that it simply served to compound his problems.
“We significantly underestimated the rehabilitation,” Boonen said. “An injured knee and races don’t really go hand in hand. It was trial and error for months on end. Both physically and mentally it was very tough.”
The former world champion eventually returned to racing in September after a difficult summer of recuperation, but was frustrated not to be able to race to win. “I really had to start from scratch. It takes so much energy just to build a base,” Boonen said. “It’s difficult just to ride along. I’m used to racing; I’m used to making the race.”
Boonen admitted he watched the final kilometres of the world road race championships in Australia with a certain degree of regret. “It’s easy to say now, ‘that was my race!’” he said. “But look, I wasn’t there.”
The Belgian’s sights are now firmly set on 2011, and in particular the spring classics. Last April, he was beaten by the rampant Fabian Cancellara on the cobbles, but he clearly aspires to return to his past levels.
“I have ambition, I’ll be easily motivated for the...
Omega Pharma-Lotto sprinter matches Gilbert for 2010 wins
Adam Blythe (Omega Pharma-Lotto) capped a hugely successful final fortnight of racing for 2010 with victory in Nationale Sluitingprijs - Putte-Kapellen in Belgium on Tuesday.
Blythe's win in the final race of the Belgian season was his fourth of the year and followed his two stage wins and overall victory at the Circuit Franco-Belge earlier this month. He finished clear of Wouter Weylandt (QuickStep) and Stefan van Dijck (Verandas Willems) in a massive field sprint and told Cyclingnews that the manner of his victory had been particularly pleasing.
"The sprint that I won yesterday was a little more convincing. I won it by a full bike length and I was clear from the field rather than just a dip on the line sort of thing," he said on Wednesday morning. "It was a nice feeling, last race of the season for me and the last race in Belgium, that made it special."
Victory at Putte-Kapellen added another to the total of nine wins Omega Pharma-Lotto have secured this year. Although the race brought his first season as a fully-fledged professional to a close, Blythe admitted that he had decided against taking too much advantage of local Belgian hospitality.
"We kept it pretty low-key really, I hadn't seen my girlfriend in a while, so I just spent some time with her," he said. "It was just nice that everyone could go out, be relaxed and finish on a high, instead of doing a lot of work and not get anything from it. I think everyone was pretty happy that they put the work in and then we could celebrate after."
Blythe also moved on par with teammate Philippe Gilbert, both riders having four season wins to their names. While he was aware of that record the young Briton said it was not one he would spend a lot of time worrying about.
"It's not a competition to see who gets the most wins out of the team. All I'm trying to do is win and help get as many as we can as a team. I just try to do my best for the...
Brailsford denies deal is done
Team Sky principal Dave Brailsford has refuted reports that the British team has signed Michael Rogers for 2011, although he has confirmed that he has talked to the experienced Australian, who is leaving HTC-Columbia at the end of the season.
Brailsford was quoted in an interview as saying Rogers had signed with the British team along with Alex Dowsett, Rigoberto Urán and Xabier Zandio. The news was picked up via other media in Australia and Europe. However, Brailsford told Cyclingnews he had been misquoted.
“We were asked about the recent speculation about Michael joining Team Sky during an interview. I can confirm that we’ve spoken to him but we don’t talk about riders who are contracted to other teams until the end of the season,” Brailsford said.
Rogers told Cyclingnews that he will leave HTC-Columbia at the end of the current season but has not revealed his plans for the future. After a difficult 2008 and 2009 due to illness and injury, Rogers won both the Amgen Tour of California and the Vuelta a Andalucia. He also finished second overall in the Criterium International and third in the Tour de Romandie. He finished fifth in the recent time trial world championships in Australia.
Rogers’ stage race experience, his time trial ability and valuable UCI World ranking points make him an attractive proposition for many teams and Team Sky is believed to be leading the chase for his signature. However, he is under contract with HTC-Columbia until the end of the season.
Now almost 31, Rogers recently told Cyclingnews he intends to focus on week-long stage races in the future instead of the Tour de France.
“I think I really found my niche as a cyclist. The Tour de France is really only good for a few people who can actually say they can win but I was really good and competitive in week long stage races,” he said.
Veteran Spaniard rides with RadioShack for the last time
Team RadioShack veteran José Luis “Chechu” Rubiera will end his international career at the Tour of Lombardy on Saturday after 16 years as a professional.
The 37-year-old Spaniard will ride a criterium in Oviedo on October 30 but the final Classic of the season will be his last truly competitive race.
During his long career, Rubiera rode for Kelme, US Postal Service, Discovery Channel, Astana and RadioShack. He was often a key rider in Lance Armstrong’s Tour de France winning teams, contributing to five of the Texan’s seven Tour victories. He was also part of Alberto Contador’s Astana team when he won the 2009 Tour de France.
Rubiera also won two stages at the Giro d’Italia and finished in the top ten overall at the Giro d’Italia and the Vuelta. His best result this season was tenth overall in the Vuelta Ciclista a Castilla y León.
“I think it's time now to enjoy my family and spend more time at home”, Rubiera said in a statement from the RadioShack team.
“I consider myself very lucky to have had the good fortune to do what I liked best during all these years. I enjoyed and did my job to the best of my ability. I felt the love of many fans around me and I was proud to have such support with such a modest record. I hope that all fans will continue to enjoy cycling and that the difficult times we are undergoing now will soon be only be a bad memory. Hasta pronto. We’ll meet on the road. I’ll remain a cyclist all my life.”
The complete RadioShack line-up for the Tour of Lombardy is: Jani Brajkovic, Mathew Busche, Chris Horner, Markel Irizar, Gregory Rast, Ivan Rovny, José Luis Rubiera and Haimar Zubeldia.
Belgian confused by delay in announcing result of doping control
Eddy Merckx has refused to make a definitive pronouncement on Alberto Contador’s recent adverse analytical finding for Clenbuterol but said that he hopes he can trust in the Spaniard’s innocence.
“I hope I can trust him,” Merckx told La Gazzetta dello Sport. “It would be very serious for cycling if Contador did not show himself worthy of this faith.”
The five-time Tour de France winner measured his words carefully when discussing the matter but did admit that he was confused by the timeline of the case.
“The control was in July, the test was found to be positive in August, then the news came out at the end of September, over two months after the control. It seems very strange to me,” Merckx said.
“I’m not a doctor, I don’t understand. You’d need to be a specialist to pass judgement on the matter.”
During his own career, Merckx tested positive for the stimulant Reactivan at the 1969 Giro d'Italia and was excluded from the race while in the overall lead.
Merckx was also critical of Italian anti-doping prosecutor Ettore Torri’s recent pronouncement that doping was rife in cycling. “Cyclists have made a lot of mistakes and there’ll always be somebody who makes mistakes, but it’s a fact that we’ve started to follow the righteous path,” he said. “It seems to me like Torri’s words are generalizations, indiscriminate accusations levelled at the easiest target, cycling.”
Meanwhile, Merckx said that he was not pleased by Oscar Freire’s (Rabobank) failure to land a fourth rainbow jersey in Geelong, even though it means that Merckx continues to hold the record for world titles won, an honour he shares with Freire, Rik Van Steenbergen and Alfredo Binda.
“In any case, on Sunday Oscar recovered by winning Paris-Tours,” Merckx noted. “So he beat me...
Da Dalto, Marangoni, Ponzi and Nerz complete roster
Liquigas-Cannondale has confirmed its final seven signings for the 2011 season, with Americans Ted King and Timmy Duggan among their numbers, as well as Australia’s Cameron Wurf. The team will have 29 riders on its books for next season.
“We have found our missing pieces,” said Liquigas-Cannondale team manager Roberto Amadio. “These last signings will guarantee a high level of reliability in the service of the team, be it in one-day races or stage races.”
Along with King, Duggan and Wurf, Liquigas-Cannondale has signed up Italy’s Alan Marangoni from Colnago-CSF, while German Dominik Nerz has also agreed a deal following the demise of his Milram team.
Meanwhile, Mauro Da Dalto rejoins the team after a two-year stint at Lampre-Farnese Vini and Simone Ponzi will also make the switch from Lampre to Liquigas in 2011.
Liquigas recently announced that bike supplier Cannondale would become the team’s secondary sponsor in 2011 and the team’s American influence will be reflected in its line-up for the first time.
“King and Duggan will be the first Americans in the history of our team, just as Nerz and Cameron will be the first German and first Australian,” Amadio explained.
Ted King's Cervélo TestTeam announced that it would disband at the end of the 2010 season. This left him free to consider a number of other options, including a return to racing on the American circuit, but he has instead decided to continue racing at the highest level with Liquigas-Cannondale.
Timmy Duggan joins the Italian squad from Garmin-Transitions after spending six seasons with Jonathan Vaughters’ squad. The Colorado native suffered a serious head injury in 2008 but returned to deliver solid performances at the 2009 Dauphiné Liberé and Tour of Austria.
Cameron Wurf already has considerable experience of racing in Italy, having spent the 2010...
Former team doctor questioned
The now defunct Spanish Professional Continental squad Xacobeo Galicia is being investigated by Spanish police for doping violations, according to AS. Former team doctor Juan Manuel Rodríguez Bastida confirmed on Tuesday that he has been questioned by authorities.
Rodríguez Bastida was fired by Xacobeo Galicia after the fourth stage of the 2009 Vuelta a España and replaced by Colombian doctor Alberto Beltrán, who had previously worked with the Liberty Seguros team. Beltrán was later released by Xacobeo Galicia when news came out that the Colombian was under investigation in Italy for doping offences. Also, three Liberty Seguros riders tested positive for EPO CERA at the 2009 Tour of Portugal while Beltrán was team doctor.
In April of this year, Rodríguez Bastida launched legal action of his own against the Xacobeo Galicia team to obtain payment of wages owed to him by the squad. Rodríguez Bastida also stated at the time that Xacobeo Galicia team manager Alvaro Pino was "only able to understand cycling with doping".
Fundacion Ciclismo Galego, owners of the Xacobeo Galicia team, recently announced they were unable to find a title sponsor for the team for 2011 and subsequently did not apply for renewal of their Professional Continental licence.
Xacobeo Galicia teammates Ezequiel Mosquera and David Garcia Dapena each tested positive for Hydroxyethyl starch (HES) during the 2010 Vuelta a España, in which Mosquera finished second overall. Additionally, Garcia Dapena tested positive for EPO at the same event.