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Second Edition Cycling News, Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Date published:
October 14, 2009, 1:00 BST
  • Tour de France route highlights Savoy region

    AG2R Manager Vincent Lavenu
    Article published:
    October 14, 2009, 14:31 BST
    Jean-François Quénet

    2010 edition "harder" according to AG2R-La Mondiale manager Lavenu

    The 2010 Tour de France will skip many of the climbs in the southern Alps and instead spend more time in the northern Alps, including the towns of Morzine-Avoriaz, Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne and Chambéry. One reason is that 2010 will mark the 150-year anniversary of the end of the Savoy region's independence from France.

    The Chambéry-based AG2R-La Mondiale team will be associated with the celebration of that anniversary. "This (route) makes a very nice Tour de France," said team manager Vincent Lavenu whose hometown will host the start of the popular stage contested on Bastille Day, July 14.

    "This is also a very hard course," said Lavenu. "It's definitely harder than last year. If we consider the Jura as a prolongation of the Alps, that makes four Alpine stages and four Pyrenean stages. "With the uphill finish in Mende, it will be very good for the climbers."

    "I think there will be a great dynamic on the course throughout the Tour. It should create numerous surprises - good and bad. The wind in Holland and the hills in Belgium will make the race extremely difficult for the pure sprinters."

    Lavenu pointed to Thor Hushovd as a perfect potential defending champion of the green jersey because the first days favor him more than Mark Cavendish - on paper at least- and the toughness of the mountain stages at the beginning are likely to exclude some sprinters from the time cut.

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  • Tour 2010: Hushovd hopeful for green and yellow

    Tour 2010: Thor Hushovd hopeful for green and yellow
    Article published:
    October 14, 2009, 15:08 BST
    Daniel Benson

    2009 green jersey winner aims to strike yellow and defend points title

    2009 green jersey winner Thor Hushovd aims to strike yellow as well as defend his points title in the 2010 Tour de France. The race kicks off in Rotterdam with an 8 kilometre prologue, something that Hushovd believes he is capable of winning.

    "I think I can perform really well in the prologue," the Norwegian sprinter told Cyclingnews after the 2010 route was announced in Paris. "I've done well in prologues before. I won the Tour prologue in Strasbourg in 2006."

    In fact the prologue suits Hushovd far more than in 2009, when the Tour started with a long and hilly encounter in Monaco. However 2010's short, flat course is one that he'll try to surprise favourites Alberto Contador, Fabian Cancellara and Bradley Wiggins in.

    Yet his long term goal for the race will be the defence of his green jersey. "I didn't count how many stages are suited to the sprinters. All I know is that there will be enough to decide the jersey. Overall it looks like a harder Tour than last year," Hushovd said.

    He will face stiff competition though with Columbia's Mark Cavendish hoping to win the title after the Manxman narrowly missed out in 2009, finishing second by just ten points, despite outscoring Hushovd 6-1 in stage victories. "I won't change my programme or my training too much. I'll go there to win and that's it. I know that it's an aim for Cavendish as well, so we should see another good fight."

    Last year Hushovd won stage 6 to Barcelona, beating Oscar Freire into second place but he cemented his lead with a daring break on the stage from Bourg-Saint-Maurice to Le Grand-Bornand.

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  • Armstrong: 2010 Tour route is interesting

    USA's Lance Armstrong (Astana) watches the 2010 Tour de France presentation in Paris
    Article published:
    October 14, 2009, 15:31 BST
    Daniel Benson

    Final time trial "decisive", first few stages to provide drama

    With Andy Schleck sitting in the middle of a Lance Armstrong, Alberto Contador sandwich as the route was unveiled, each of the 2009 Tour podium finishers watched intently as Christian Prudhomme unveiled his 2010 masterpiece. But as the lights came up and the applause trickled out it was hard to decipher which contender was happier.

    Armstrong, however, scored early and vital points against Contador with the parcours featuring a shorter prologue and no mid-race individual time trial. Contador beat the Texan with regular ease against the clock in 2009. "Based on my time trials this year, I have to be glad it's less," Armstrong told the press. "That last time trial the day before Paris is going to be decisive," he said regarding the 51-kilometre test from Bordeaux to Pauillac.

    As for the rest of the route, Armstrong remained slightly coy, perhaps showing the rustiness of not attending a Tour presentation since his domination ended in 2005. "I think it's interesting. The first few days will provide a lot of drama for people. Crosswind, the hills around Spa and Brussels and the cobblestones - people will be nervous for days if not weeks."

    If anyone or any partnership are able to take advantage over these stages it's the Lance Armstrong-Johan Bruyneel axis. Both cunning to the extreme, it was the Belgian who was the only rider to stick with Miguel Indurain on a famous break into Liège, Belgium in the 1995 Tour. Bryneel out-sprinted the Spaniard to claim the stage and yellow jersey in what was then a record pace for any Grand Tour stage.

    And Armstrong, of course, was able to gain valuable time on Contador - and every other general classification rival - during the 2009 Tour when the race split due to crosswinds on stage three finishing in La Grande-Motte. To compound matters for the Spaniard, he'll have to face those tricky and potentially race-changing stages without the aid of many of his Astana teammates, who are already tied to...

  • Andy Schleck sees 2010 Tour route advantages

    Luxembourg's Andy Schleck (Saxo Bank) smiles during the 2010 Tour de France presentation.
    Article published:
    October 14, 2009, 15:37 BST
    Cycling News

    Tougher mountain stages, less time trialing suit Saxo Bank rider

    Andy Schleck, runner-up at the 2009 Tour de France, thinks next year's edition will be harder than this year's. The younger of the two Schleck brothers, who both race for Saxo Bank, got a look at the route when he attended the presentation in Paris on Wednesday morning.

    "My first feeling was that it doesn't look too hard, but then looking more at the details, I think it's even harder than 2009," said the 24-year-old Schleck, who was also the Best Young Rider in 2008 and 2009.

    The 2010 Tour de France will kick off with a prologue over eight kilometers in Rotterdam, the largest port in Europe. Overall the route seems to favor, even more than last year, riders who excel in the mountains. There will be six tough mountain stages, three of which end atop a climb, and there are fewer climbs.

    "The mountains are full of long and tough stages and the Col du Tourmalet and Marie-Blanque stage is going to be hard," predicted Schleck. "The race is going to be decided in the mountains." The race also visits legendary climbs like the Col de Madeleine and the Col de Peyresourde.

    "There are some risky elements in the Netherlands and Belgium where we must be careful to not lose unnecessary time. However, it appears that ... I could have a better chance of winning time in the mountains and losing less in the long time trial."

    Saxo Bank's Team Manager Bjarne Riis called the overall route "interesting". "I am happy to see that the mountain stages seem harder and the mountains are positioned later on each stage so they can be used for attacks," said Riis. "Obviously, I would like to have a team time trial, but it speaks to our favor that there is only one long time trial. Last but not least, we must be very careful and aware on stage three which passes over the cobblestones."

    There are fewer time trials overall - and specifically, no team trials. The time trial of note is 51km on stage 19, before the ceremonial parade to Paris the...

  • Contador: 2010 route better than this year

    Alberto Contador gives the thumbs up to the 2010 tour route.
    Article published:
    October 14, 2009, 15:43 BST
    Jean-François Quénet

    Two-time Tour winner likely to race with Astana

    Alberto Contador's first words after watching the route of the 2010 Tour de France were "I like this course."

    It wasn't completely new for him as he heard quite a lot of rumours before heading to Paris. He had heard there would be a cobblestone stage in the north of France. "Racing on the pavés is something I like to watch on TV, but not ride on," he said. "It will be spectacle that day."

    He refused to give too much importance to that cobblestone stage. "I actually think this is a better course for me than in 2009. There are more mountains, and finishing with the Tourmalet is super for me."

    Contador expects a lot of Spanish fans to support him in the Pyrénées for the specific centennial of the Tour de France going over the mountains that separate France and Spain.

    "It can't really predict anything for next year's race as long as I don't know the team I'll have on my side," he continued.

    Contador, 26, has one more year in his contract with Astana and the team has already said he would remain for 2010. He said in recent months, however, that he prefers to leave the team.

    "I'm looking forward to October 20. Everything will have to be decided by then because this is the deadline for the teams to provide all the documents to the UCI."

    The day before the Tour de France presentation, Contador was a guest at the Senate in Paris. He admitted he's "worried" about the current situation of the Astana team. Johan Bruyneel and the Kazakhs are still in negotiations since Belgian Bruyneel also has another year on his contract.

    Bruyneel is still unsure whether or not he'll officially join Lance Armstrong's RadioShack. "I might as well take a year off," he said.

    Contador has had contacts with teams Garmin, Caisse d'Epargne and Quick Step.

    "The possibility to join one of these teams has been considered, but I've realised it was pointless to tussle with Astana", Contador said....

  • Gallopin not impressed by hectic Tour de France beginning

    Alain Gallopin, Astana directeur sportif.
    Article published:
    October 14, 2009, 15:52 BST
    Jean-François Quénet

    Opening stages don't take full advantage of windy coasts

    Astana's directeur sportif Alain Gallopin, who will join Armstrong's RadioShack team next year, cooled down the comments about the hectic beginning expected at the 2010 Tour de France. "We haven't been much surprised," said the Frenchman in Paris. "I'm a little bit disappointed about the first week. I thought there were more possibilities to use the windy coasts of Holland and Belgium."

    Gallopin was skeptical about the possibilities of stage 1 to create differences like it happened this year en route to La Grande-Motte on stage 3. "The polders are very far away from the finish line in Brussels," he said. "With 200km to go, if something happens, there will be a need for many riders to form the front group."

    However, the future tactician of RadioShack stated he counts on the initial part of the Tour de France for gaining a time advantage on Alberto Contador. "In the climbs, Contador is unbeatable," he said. "He will be hard to beat. This Tour will crown a very complete rider."

    The former mentor of Andy Schleck at CSC and Contador at Astana admitted: "I know our rivals more than I know Lance Armstrong." He also counts on his personal experience to know how to beat the supposed "unbeatable" Spaniard.

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  • Cavendish eyes five stage wins in 2010 Tour

    Mark Cavendish (Columbia-HTC) and Lance Armstrong (Astana), l-r, in Paris for the 2010 Tour de France presentation
    Article published:
    October 14, 2009, 16:33 BST
    Daniel Benson

    As many as eight sprint finishes possible

    Mark Cavendish threw down the gauntlet on Wednesday in Paris, aiming to win every stage possible and claim the green jersey at next year's Tour de France. The Columbia-HTC rider was among an elite band of riders at the presentation and counted five possible stage wins for himself and his sprint rivals. He allowed his wins may number as many as eight, if circumstances go his way.

    "There are five sprint stages and most of them are in the first week. At a stretch, there are possibly eight altogether, but I have to survive the last two weeks if I'm to maintain the green jersey challenge. That's the main aim for next year." he told Cyclingnews.

    Last year Cavendish won an impressive six stages, to add to the four he won in 2008, but he missed out on the green jersey to Thor Hushovd, despite the Norwegian only claiming one win in the race. The competition between the two riders was overshadowed by an official ruling on stage 14 when Cavendish was alleged to have deviated from his sprinting line. He was docked points and relegated to last on the stage, leaving Hushovd in an almost unassailable lead.

    "It was a paper decision that decided the jersey last year. Well just have to hope that there are no dodgy barriers this year," Cavendish said.

    Despite saying that there were up to eight stages with a sprint finish, Cavendish doesn't believe that he'll surpass last year's stage-winning achievements. "It's unlikely, not next year anyway, but never say never. Every time I can try and win, I'll try. Whether that means 20 times or once, it doesn't matter. I'm never going to sacrifice wins and the jersey might come from that. That's my mentality."

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  • Breukink plans Rabobank’s 2010 Tour de France

    Robert Gesink (Rabobank) wins the Giro dell'Emilia in Bologna, Italy
    Article published:
    October 14, 2009, 16:58 BST
    Daniel Benson

    Mountains for Gesink and Menchov

    The 2009 Tour de France promised so much for Rabobank but a string of events left them clasping at straws and at the 2010 presentation in Paris today, director sportif Eric Breukink laid out the team’s modest aims.

    “For us it’s an okay route. There are obviously some special features - the Alps and Pyrenees will be hard but suited to our climbers. There’s also the cobbled stages where we could do something. There’s something for a lot of riders,” Breukink told Cyclingnews.

    At the start of the 2009 Tour in July Rabobank were on the crest of a wave. They boasted the Giro d’Italia champion Denis Menchov, talented climber Robert Gesink and green jersey holder Oscar Freire. However after three weeks of racing the Dutch team had witnessed Freire fall apart as a sprinter, Menchov falter as team leader and Gesink crash out. Only Juan Gárate saved the team’s blushes when he won the stage to Mont Ventoux.

    The team is yet to finalise their training programmes for 2010 but Breukink believes that better times could lay ahead for both Gesink and Menchov, although he wouldn’t be drawn on team hierarchy after Gesink rode to an impressive sixth in the recent Vuelta España. “They are our best climbers and you want to have them in the race but they need to be fit. We’re talking about training schedules and race programs now but nothing will be finalised before November,” he said.

    Therefore whether Menchov would defend his Giro crown was still up in the air: “I don’t know about Denis yet. It’s not decided. We’ll talk soon about his plans.”

    As for Freire, Breukink more than hinted that the Spaniard might not even ride the 2010 Tour. “I don’t know. There are only a few stages for him at the start. Young sprinters are now taking over with Cavendish and Farrar. We’ll see if he’ll ride or not. Again,...